Fort Worth Star-Telegram, by Melissa Winn, Mar. 28, 2012 – A Georgia news organization’s examination of standardized test scores identifies three local school districts as among 200 nationwide with unusual swings in test scores that could indicate cheating.
But none of the districts — Keller, Crowley or Weatherford — plan to investigate based on the report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Weatherford Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks fired back, calling the report reckless and irresponsible.
“It slights the hard work of our students, their teachers and parents and the school district as a whole,” he said in a statement. “We are not placing any value on this report.”
A Keller spokesman said the district takes pride in students’ gains in science the past five years.
“The district takes any concerns of cheating very seriously and follows the guidance and directives of the Texas Education Agency; however, KISD does not plan to investigate the recent claims,” the district said in a statement.
Crowley officials said the district has instituted comprehensive safeguards to prevent cheating.
“We have seen no indications of cheating or suspicious test scores in our schools,” spokesman Anthony Kirchner said in a statement. “Crowley ISD joins with the Texas Education Agency and other school districts in questioning the methodology and dismissing the findings of this flawed report.”
TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said that while the report raised questions, the agency is concerned about its methodology and has no plans to investigate the scores.
The report broke Monday as Texas schools began the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. Ratcliffe said the newspaper investigation emphasizes the need to follow the highest safeguards to prevent cheating.
Hanks said Weatherford has significant safeguards.
“Weatherford ISD has gone beyond what is required by the state to ensure that our testing process is beyond reproach,” he said.
The Journal-Constitution listed for each district the number of grade levels flagged over four years for unusually high or low test performance compared with previous years.
It reported that districts that consistently have 10 percent or more grade levels flagged or that have an extremely high flag rate in a particular year warrant further examination.
In Weatherford, more than 15 percent of grade levels were flagged in 2011 for such fluctuations in test scores, compared with about 2 percent in each of the two previous years. In the Houston district, more than 11 percent were flagged, the same as in Crowley and Keller; Dallas topped 10 percent.
In comparison, among local districts, none were flagged in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw or Cleburne; 2 percent in Burleson; under 3 percent in Hurst-Euless-Bedford; about 4 percent in Arlington, Birdville and Fort Worth; and less than 5 percent in Mansfield and Northwest.
The Journal-Constitution reported that in any given year, about 5 percent of a district’s grade levels would be flagged for unusually high or low performance compared with the previous year.
Staff writers Sandra Engelland and Shirley Jinkins contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.
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