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Georgia test review shows possible cheating

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ATLANTA --- More than a dozen school districts are expected to launch investigations after a state review showed possible cheating on standardized tests at about 20 percent of Georgia elementary and middle schools last year.

The report released Wednesday by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement shows that about 370 schools -- including Lamar and Hornsby elementary schools in Richmond County -- had an unusually high number of erasures on tests last spring.

Richmond County schools spokesman Louis Svehla said Wednesday that he was not aware of an investigation. Dr. Dana Bedden was out of town, and the school board last met Tuesday.

The highest numbers of changes to answers on exams were found in 74 of the 1,800 schools reviewed -- or about 4 percent, agency director Kathleen Mathers told the state Board of Education during its monthly meeting.

Those 74 schools are in more than a dozen districts, each of which is expected to investigate testing practices to see whether cheating occurred, Mathers said. She has requested that monitors be placed in those schools during the testing period this spring and that state workers pay unannounced visits to other schools that were flagged by the review.

"We are not saying in any way that we think teachers in those buildings changed answers on tests," Mathers said. "We are saying this looks unusual."

It's the first time the state has taken a comprehensive look at standardized testing, which is part of how the officials measure whether schools have met federal education benchmarks.

At least one district -- Atlanta Public Schools -- announced shortly after Mathers' presentation that it will investigate the data. The 50,000-student district has 43 schools on the list with the most erasures. That's more than any other district.

Besides Richmond County, other districts where schools had unusually high numbers of erasures were: DeKalb, Dougherty, Clayton, Muscogee, Fulton, Quitman, Bibb, Carroll and Spalding counties; the Gainesville city schools; and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Atlanta was one of four districts in which a handful of fifth-grade math test results were thrown out last year because an audit by Mathers' agency found that someone had tampered with answer sheets once students turned them in to teachers. The audit -- which uncovered cheating in four schools -- came out about two months after the tests covered in the new report were administered.

State schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said if any new investigations uncovered cheating, the districts would be appropriately sanctioned and the tests would be tossed out. But she cautioned against jumping to conclusions before the probes are completed.

"There are a lot of reasons a kid could make a lot of erasures," Cox said after Wednesday board meeting.

Mathers' office looked at every Criterion-Referenced Competency Test taken in Georgia last spring for grades one through eight -- about 3 million exams. A test was flagged if it had many more erasures than the average for the student's peers.

The 74 schools on the list with the highest number of erasures in the state saw 25 percent or more of their classrooms with unusually high numbers of changes to test answers. Nine schools on the list had more than 70 percent of classrooms with questionable test answer sheets.

Staff reports were used in this article.

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JustSpeakingMyMind
198
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JustSpeakingMyMind 02/11/10 - 08:50 am
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I believe this is called "No

I believe this is called "No Child Left Behind". If they can't pass by themselves, we'll have to help them!

Little Lamb
46040
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Little Lamb 02/11/10 - 11:04 am
0
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Perhaps next year they'll

Perhaps next year they'll make them take the tests with indelible ink pens. They will have to train in the Davy Crockett method of test taking:

First, be sure you are right, then make your mark.

gnumbgnuts
0
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gnumbgnuts 02/11/10 - 11:51 am
0
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They'll probably just allow

They'll probably just allow two shots at every question.

disssman
6
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disssman 02/11/10 - 11:53 am
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I wonder why the school

I wonder why the school districts don't have an Inspector General IG who does not report to anyone but the state board of education. It has served the United States Government since our inception to deter lying and abuse. Further, it would give the common citizen a point to investigate why kids have no school books or the computers and programs required by the homework question pamphlets they are issued, in Crosscreek high school 10th grade math. Just where do teachers go if they are being intemidated to improve their classes? Do they go to the Principal, who continues their contracts, to the school administrator, who continues their Principals contract? Basically, I guess they have no where to go in privacy, do they?

butler123
1
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butler123 02/11/10 - 12:00 pm
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What do they expect. They are

What do they expect. They are talking about paying teachers based on test scores.

scoobynews
3854
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scoobynews 02/11/10 - 12:25 pm
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Have any of you ever seen a

Have any of you ever seen a child take a standarized test! They constantly second guess themselves because they are not confident enough to know if they answered right. That is their own fault for not paying attention in class and for not learning the material enough to get the right answer. AYP is a joke. They didn't have that crap back when all of us went to school and it appears that the majority of us turned out just fine. Schools are becoming very unrealistic places. We are teaching kids that they CAN turn in work late, not be on time, retake until they pass, misbehave and get a slap on the wrist, talk back, question adults, have a spot on the team because they tried out not by ability, get awards for coming to school and participating, candy for being "good" and not make below a 60 on their report card because we don't won't them to feel as if they failed already. So I guess I can turn in my work late to my boss, come to work when I feel like it, get all postive marks on my evaluations because you would not want to hurt my self esteem, provide me with after work training because I couldn't do a good enough job during work hours, my boss should feed me breakfast and lunch, and I can question anything he says because I can.

emergencyfan
0
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emergencyfan 02/11/10 - 12:44 pm
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"It has served the United

"It has served the United States Government since our inception to deter lying and abuse." Seriously, you're going to go with that answer?

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 02/11/10 - 12:51 pm
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Bulls eye, butler123

Bulls eye, butler123

Fiat_Lux
15429
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Fiat_Lux 02/11/10 - 12:53 pm
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Nailed it, Butler123.

Nailed it, Butler123.

CobaltGeorge
159198
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CobaltGeorge 02/11/10 - 01:06 pm
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I would just like to know

I would just like to know just how many of our today 8th graders could pass the all day test I took to get into high school lever. No multi-choice questions, A test for each subject and monitored like you were in prison.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 02/11/10 - 01:16 pm
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i don't blame no child left

i don't blame no child left behind, the blame falls on two other stakeholders...the parents and schools board...both are equally to blame when, as parents they fail to get involved with their own children's education and the school board: dumbs down the curriculum to show "progress", fail to provide an safe working environment for teachers, staff adminsistrator or students who do want and strive to obtain an education, refuse to make sure their are adaquate school supplies and/or textbooks and place a greater emphasis on athletics at the expense of education and academic achievement the net results are poor graduation rates and test scores and before you know it test answers then become altered in an attempt maintain standardized test scores to prevent the truth from coming to the surface thusly leading to sanctions and/or loss of state/federal education funding...i am not saying that it occurred but by re-emphasizing education and academic achievement i can saw it WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED.

ripjones
2
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ripjones 02/11/10 - 02:41 pm
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You've hit the nail on the

You've hit the nail on the head 'lifelongresident' ...!! My wife is a teacher.

walkerjones
3
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walkerjones 02/11/10 - 04:02 pm
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I tend to agree with

I tend to agree with Butler123. It's a shame that a teacher's pay will be based on how well a child does on their test. What blame does the parent get for low test scores?

corgimom
32599
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corgimom 02/11/10 - 08:48 pm
0
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It is wrong- just flat out

It is wrong- just flat out wrong- to submit children to the stress and pressure that goes with the tests. The tests don't test anything. It's just a big moneymaker for the test companies and makes people think their children are being educated. The kids know that passing to the next grade depends on passing the tests- and they are too young to handle that intensity. When children are frightened and nervous, how can anyone think that's a positive thing? I hope that NCLB gets thrown out. It hasn't done anything positive for anybody.

LCC0256
634
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LCC0256 02/11/10 - 10:50 pm
0
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Suspicion of cheating on

Suspicion of cheating on tests at 20% of SOME OF the WORST SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTRY!!....and they still have below average scores!!! Why is no rationally thinking person over the age of 50 NOT surprised at this?...The United States public school system is irreparably damaged beyond repair. The federal government is running ALL ASPECTS of PUBLIC EDUCATION ...Only a fool would not realize this only and only a socialist would not care....When will parents WAKE UP STAND UP AND WISE UP? If you want CONTROL of your child's education home school, send them to current private schools or start new ones. The master plan to destroy America & it's fundamental Christian beliefs is being executed flawlessly albeit slow by those factions that have hated this country since it's inception. By continuing to support public education parents (having NO authority over curriculum or the unionized drones that make up the majority of the teaching workforce) are aiding in this effort to totally destroy this country. How could anyone not want to be in control in concert with like minded parents - totally involved in their child's education? I would venture to say less than 5% of parents actually UNDERSTAND what is going on in most classrooms today...Ignorance is bliss and the enemies of this country have guessed right....

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