District officials have asked 12 public and public charter schools with irregularities in their 2009 DC-CAS standardized test results to conduct internal investigations.
That little news nugget was tucked into the seventh paragraph of a joint statement by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and State Superintendent of Education Kerri Briggs--released shortly after 6 p.m. Monday--announcing "improved and strengthened test integrity measures" that will be in place for the 2010 exams in March.
Fenty and Briggs said the names of the schools would not be released during the ongoing investigations.
The new test protocols--which include training for exam administrators--come after disclosure in September that Briggs' predecessor, Deborah Gist, had commissioned an investigation into the 2008 DC-CAS results at 26 public and public charter schools where reading and math proficiency increased markedly. That inquiry was based on "anomalies" discovered during an analysis of incorrect student answers that were erased and changed to correct answers.
CTB-McGraw-Hill, the firm that published the test and also conducted the erasure analysis, characterized the results of the analysis as "inconclusive." Gist nevertheless asked the schools in question to conduct their own investigations. Some did, but DCPS, despite two requests from Gist's office, did not. When Briggs took over in April, she informed DCPS that the probe wasn't necessary because the erasure analysis was inconclusive.
Monday's announcement said that the 12 schools targeted for their 2009 results were identified on the basis of erasure analyses and two other criteria: growth in test scores and "item pattern analysis," a statistical method of detecting excessive similarities in answers on multiple choice exams.
Schools that showed irregularities on two of the three criteria must conduct internal investigations and report back to Briggs' office by March 1.
Asked why parents aren't entitled to know that their schools are investigating problems on the DC-CAS, Chad Colby, Briggs' deputy chief of staff, said the schools are free to inform parents. But he said the state superintendent's office will name the schools only if the allegations are proven.