Friday, May 29, 2015

The Year's First AzMERIT Test Cheating Story

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2015 at 9:00 AM

COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin

In recent news, we learned of allegations that seven Arizona schools cheated on AIMS tests in past years by erasing wrong answers and replacing them with correct answers. Oops, make that eight as of a week ago.

Now we have what looks like the first report of a school cheating on the new AzMERIT test which replaced AIMS. 
Allegations of cheating on standardized tests have prompted an investigation at a Phoenix elementary school.

ABC15 Investigators have learned charges there was cheating on the AzMERIT statewide achievement test at a local elementary school have prompted a formal outside investigation.

The Isaac School District #5 confirms they're looking into allegations that answers were altered at the J.B. Sutton Elementary School in Phoenix.

The school is part of the Isaac Elementary School District #5 .
It should come as no surprise that 94 percent of the school's students are on free or reduced lunch. Cheating by an adult on high stakes tests is a high risk endeavor, and the stakes are rarely high enough to warrant the risk at schools with kids from affluent families. Those students are likely to do well on the tests no matter what, and the schools are likely to get A and B state grades, so why take the chance of getting caught to gain a few points? J.B. Sutton, on the other hand, has a D rating, and its math and writing scores went down in 2014. You can bet the pressure was on at the school, big time.

Here's something interesting. It's not the AZ Department of Education that's initiating the investigation this time, according to ABC15 Investigators. It's the school district.

So we have nine schools where there's a strong possibility that adults altered tests to increase student scores. Does that indicate an increase in dishonesty by teachers and administrators? I don't think so. It's more likely an increase in honesty at the state level. Education Superintendent Diane Douglas isn't a big fan of high stakes tests, unlike previous superintendent John Huppenthal, so she's very likely decided to be more aggressive about the cheating that's always been there but Huppenthal decided to hush up (See Carpe Diem charter school). Posssibly—I'm just guessing here—the changed atmosphere at the Ed. Dept. led the Isaac Elementary School District to be proactive and pursue the possible cheating problem itself before it became an issue at the state level.

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