“Atlanta is the Tip of an Iceberg” -- New Count Shows Widespread Test Score Corruption in 39 States And D.C.

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell  (239) 699-0468

for immediate release, Monday, September 29, 2014

“ATLANTA IS THE TIP OF AN ICEBERG” -- STANDARDIZED EXAM CHEATING CASES IN 39 STATES AND D.C.; NEW COUNT SHOWS WIDESPREAD TEST SCORE CORRUPTION

As the trial of a dozen Atlanta educators allegedly involved in a major test-cheating conspiracy gets under way this week, a new survey reports cases of standardized exam score manipulation have been confirmed in at least 39 states and Washington, D.C. in the past five academic years. The tally by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) documents more than 60 ways schools improperly inflated their results during that period.

“Unfortunately, Atlanta is just the tip of a test cheating iceberg,” said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “Across the country, strategies to boost scores without improving learning –   including outright cheating, narrow teaching to the test and pushing out low-scoring students – have been widespread. These corrupt practices are one reason for the growing movement resisting politically mandated overuses and misuses of standardized exams.”
Among the ways FairTest found test scores have been manipulated in communities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Columbus, Houston, Newark, and Washington, D.C.:

  • Encourage teachers to view upcoming test forms before they are administered.
  • Exclude likely low-scorers from enrolling in school.
  • Drill students on actual upcoming test items.
  • Use thumbs-up/thumbs-down signals to indicate right and wrong responses.
  • Erase erroneous responses and insert correct ones.
  • Report low-scorers as having been absent on testing day.

Schaeffer continued, “Stepped up enforcement will not solve the test-cheating problem. Instead, testing misuses must end because they cheat the public out of accurate data about public school quality at the same time they cheat many students out of a high-quality education.”

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