- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The District has invalidated 2010 standardized test scores from three D.C. public school classrooms, citing clear evidence of violations or a “strong suspicion” of them, the city’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education said Wednesday.

The agency is also looking into 14 reports of testing irregularities during this year’s administration of the DC CAS exams, an annual assessment of 40,000 D.C. students in 3,800 classrooms, Mayor Vincent C. Gray said at his weekly press briefing.

The decision to invalidate the scores follows an investigation into test irregularities in 18 public and charter school classrooms in the District.

State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley said the test-security firm Caveon analyzed the exam sheets and interviewed principals and teachers.

She also said one teacher from the three sanctioned classrooms has been suspended and two others were not allowed to participate in this year’s testing.

The names of the schools and the specific violations are being withheld because the principals and new Chancellor Kaya Henderson were just notified, said Tamara Reavis, OSSE’s acting director of assessment and accountability.

However, a USA Today story two months ago on the irregularities cited a high rate of erasures on test sheets from a well-performing school in the District.

Mr. Gray said the results do not take away from the legacy of Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who ran the school systems when the tests were given.

“This is simply an effort that looks at a set of allegations that were made about the testing and the testing environment, and I think that essentially the results speak for themselves,” the mayor said.

Preliminary results for 2011 tests show such violations as a teacher standing too close to a student, the use of cellphones during testing and a teacher who wrote down the answers provided by a student, according to OSSE.

Mr. Gray said one charter school teacher improperly used the previous year’s exam to prepare students for this year’s test. The school self-reported the incident and terminated the teacher, the mayor said.

Ms. Mahaley said a student, in a separate incident, finished in half of the time that it took the other students.

When asked why, “the student indicated that they recognized some of the questions,” she said.

Ms. Mahaley stressed that it was only one student out of thousands, and that the incident is under investigation. She also touted the performance of D.C. students in the exams.

“When you look at fourth-grade test scores in the District of Columbia between 2007 and 2009 … the average gain for students was more than five points higher than the national average.”

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