- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas’ Umphrey Lee Elementary has plummeted in the Texas accountability ratings since six educators resigned over falsified standardized test scores.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/VoS6BT ) reports that the Dallas Independent School District said it should have contacted families sooner after determining educators gave students answers on most of the 2012-2013 state assessment tests.

Five teachers and an instructional coach resigned while under investigation in October. At the end of the 2013-14 school year, the students’ STAAR results plunged and the school became the only Texas school to tumble from the top to the absolute bottom in the state’s accountability rankings. It failed all four accountability indexes.

District officials never informed Umphrey Lee parents their children may have been promoted to the next grade even though they weren’t ready. The district hasn’t offered tutoring or other remedial help for those students either.

“Wow, I never heard anything. I never received a letter,” said Carol Williams-Burnett, whose daughter attended the school. “It is a disservice because they aren’t given everything they need. If you don’t get what you need from the previous grade then it will be really hard in the next grade.”

The district said Thursday that it was a mistake to wait on state action instead of contacting parents whose children may have been promoted in part because of the test scores. District spokesman Jon Dahlander said he’s unaware of any special resources offered to students whose scores were boosted.

“We’ve determined that some things probably could have been handled better,” he said. “A situation like this in the future … should call for parents to be notified, both by a letter and likely a meeting with parents to explain the situation. We need to do this as we move forward.”

Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said schools aren’t required to wait on the state.

“A number of other districts that have had situations sent information out to their own communities based on their own findings without waiting for the state investigation to conclude,” she said.

The former teachers identified by the district are Brenda Singleton and Da’Shonya Tyler, both fifth-grade teachers; Arrkeenah Willis and Monica Benjamin, both third-grade teachers; and Ronald Shepard, a science and social studies teacher. The instruction coach was identified as Lenora Coleman. They have denied violating any testing rules.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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