How they cheated on D.C. tests: Excerpts from new report

How many ways did D.C. educators cheat on the 2102 high-stakes Comprehensive Assessment System tests given to students? Here are some excerpts from a new official report that details how teachers in 18 District classrooms cheated on the exams.

You can see the entire report below or by clicking here but in the meantime, here are some excerpts. Classes were flagged on the basis of the number of erasures on the test answer sheets, from wrong to right, but, as you will see, the report says teachers cheated in other ways.

What may be the most most egregious case is at Langdon Education Center, where there are also allegations of cheating in years prior to 2012, the year that is the focus of the new report. Concerns about widespread cheating over the years on high-stakes tests in D.C. schools were heightened late last week with the publication of a 2009 memo that raised suspicions about nearly 200 educators cheating on the 2008 test, when Michelle Rhee was schools chancellor.

This is from the “Incident Reports” of the Langdon section of the report:

…On May 9, 2012, DCPS received an anonymous tip alleging that staff members at Langdon Education Campus (“Langdon”) have been violating test procedures during DC CAS tests, including the 2012 DC CAS test. The allegation stated that, “For years, Langdon has been cheating on the DCCAS. They [Staff members] have been copying the test in the late afternoon and would share it with the students. The students would take the test home and practice.” It further stated that, “For the current 2012 DC CAS season, they [staff members] did the same thing. When the test arrived at Langdon, they looked at the test before the monitors came on Wednesday.” The anonymous tip did not specify which staff members were involved in the alleged cheating at Langdon.

 

We received these allegations as well as a report generated as a result of DCPS-led investigation in May through August 2012 (See Appendix A). That investigation included thirty-four interviews (including some of the same individuals that we interviewed in March 2013). Based on the findings in the initial May investigation and our follow up interviews, although there is no confirmation of cheating on the 2012 DC CAS, former staff members confirmed that test booklets were reviewed in advance of the 2010 DC CAS administration.

 

On April 19, 2012, a DCPS Observer at the school filed an incident report noting that, in a classroom designated for testing special education students (there were 3 2nd Grade special education students testing), each time she observed the room through the window, the test administrator, who she noted as being REDACTED was sitting at a student desk within an arm’s length of one student and on the Observer’s third visit to the classroom, she “saw the teacher with the student’s answer book in her lap-there was nothing on the student’s desk.” She continued to note  that the teacher “flipped through 3-5 pages of the book and then put the the book back on the student’s desk. She pointed to a place in the student’s book.”

 

We attempted to speak with the Test Administrator for the classroom; however, due to the disorganization of the Test Security binder and Admin 2′s refusal to speak with us, we were unable to confirm which teacher actually administered the test to that class. Based on the DCPS Observers’ notes, we spoke to Proctor 1 and Proctor 2 regarding this incident, but both indicated that they did not administer a test to 2nd Grader students. Based on handwritten notes in the Test Security binder, we were able to determine the names of the 2nd graders who tested as special education students. Of the three students noted, two were no longer at the school and our interview with the one remaining student was brief as he was unable to recall anything about the test. As such we were unable to to reach a conclusion as to what actually occurred in the classroom.

 

C. Missing Booklets

CTB [test publisher] reported that live test booklets were never returned to the CTB facility….

 

… Overall based on the relative severity of the findings at Landon EC, this school has been classed as critical (i.e., having definitive test security violations; test tampering or academic fraud.)

At Brightwood Education Campus:

…Student 1A stated that Teacher 1 would help students during the 2012 DC CAS test by reading aloud an entire question and by asking students to read specific questions carefully.

 

Student 1B stated that both Teacher 1 and Proctor 1 would tell individual students to check over a specific question by mentioning the question number. She recalled that when students said that they didn’t understand a question, Teacher 1 and Proctor 1 would help them understand the question or word by explaining it or saying what it means…

 

At Hendley Elementary School:

… Specifically Teacher 1 re-read questions to students during the test and reviewed student test materials and answers during the test, telling students to go back and check their answers…

 

At Miner Elementary School:

…Students 1A and 1B both indicated that when students had a question during the 2012 DC CAS test, Teacher 1 would re-read the question aloud to assist them in understanding the question. Both students also noted that Teacher 1 would occasionally explain the meaning of a word in a test question if students did not understand it.

 

 

 

DCPS 2012 DC CAS Redacted Reports

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | April 14, 2013