CRCT probe seems to be doodling along at this point

Here is yet another story on the CRCT investigation suggesting that districts are sticking with their story that the unusual number of erasures from wrong to right are simply a result of kids going back and changing answers and teachers cleaning up stray marks.

I still want to know why systems without flagged schools, including Cobb and Gwinnett, don’t have all these stray marks and doodles. I just can’t buy the defense that students are taught different test-taking skills.

But I am open to being proven wrong.

According to the AJC, which is using the Open Records Act to obtain the reports being submitted to the state by systems:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained 10 completed reports this week under Georgia’s Open Records Act. Those reports show that schools in several systems, including Appling, Savannah-Chatham and Clarke counties, pointed to suspicious erasure marks on state tests as being caused in part by test-taking strategies that included students double-checking work or making extra marks to eliminate answers.

Some systems, including Taliaferro County, found that teachers under supervision erased stray marks, including students’ doodles on answer sheets, but did not change answers. Some could not get in touch with teachers whose classrooms were flagged because of they had retired or left the system. At least one, Walton County, said it did not find violations but expected to put a letter of concern in a teacher’s file.

None of the 10 systems referred employees for test violations. The state is not releasing reports that include referrals because they are considered ongoing investigations.

According to a state report in February, 191 Georgia schools required investigation because they showed unusual patterns of erasures on the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests last spring. The tests, of students in first through eighth grade, help determine whether schools meet federal benchmarks.

In an update given a week ago, state officials said 22 of 34 systems statewide required to conduct investigations had turned in reports. Of them, the state expected five to refer 11 employees for testing violations, with possible sanctions ranging from a reprimand to loss of license.

40 comments Add your comment

APS Teacher

May 19th, 2010
6:43 pm

I am totally disgusted by this investigation. It is blatantly obvious that widespread cheating occurred in APS and that administrators with access to completed tests over an extended period of time erased answers. It is a well known and accepted fact that APS schools cheat. Friends who teach in other metro systems report that they regularly get kids from APS with average-to-fabulous CRCT scores, yet are functionally illiterate. And yet, it is clear that they are going to get away with it. These administrators will continue to get their bonuses and Beverly Hall can keep making $300,000 a year, all on the tax payer dime.

doh

May 19th, 2010
7:22 pm

This is the dumbest thing ever. I have taught in seven states and only this one actually measures “eraser marks” and suspects cheating. When I gave the CRCT I had a number of students who by accident were on one question in their test book and a totally different question on their answer sheet. When they finished the section on their question booklet they realized they messed up somewher. The result was a student who totally had to erase most of their answers on that section of the test, and redo most of that section in the 70 minutes allowed. It happened to four of my kids. So who is going to get flagged? Repeat after me…GEORGIA…STUPID. GEORGIA…STUPID. GEORGIA…STUPID>

No Way Around It

May 19th, 2010
7:31 pm

Look, I have the upper hand in this whol scandal (I won’t mention in what capacity) and it isn’t pretty. There is no way one APS Teacher can have an average of 24 wrong-to-right erasures for a class. One test even had 48 out of 60 questions changed from wrong to right. That is impossible!!! APS Teacher, just because you may not have changed your answers doesn’t mean that teachers arent changing them themselves. There is no way administrators will change one teacher’s grades without changing everyone’s grades. I am not saying that administrators aren’t changing them, but it’s more of the teachers changing them and I know this for a fact. We shouldn’t have to resort to checking for cheating, but we have to because it happened. I was a teacher and now I am in schools everyday and I am tired of hearing about “pressure to pass students”. If some students don’t pass, then we have to determine the cause and intervene. Parents will be a huge help at home if they actually monitored their students’ on a daily/weekly basis. But, the average parent does not and that hurts.

No Way Around It

May 19th, 2010
7:34 pm

@doh, this happened to 4 of your kids, not the entire classroom. Stop looking at this from your classroom. You will not get flagged for 4 students. The data has shown that the cheating is done on a large-scale, not just for certain individual students.

catlady

May 19th, 2010
7:34 pm

I am still having a hard time with this. I retested some kids today, and not a single one of them erased or doodled or made stray marks–NOT A SINGLE ONE! And we have not been instructed to say anything to the kids warning them not to erase.

IF, in fact, someone is teaching kids to mark out the incorrect answers and then erase, they are FOOLS who need to be taught test-taking skills themselves. The kids can mark in the book; they have no reason to mark out and erase on the answer sheet!

Question

May 19th, 2010
7:38 pm

When do teachers have time to erase the wrong answers for many students? We are hurried to retrieve our materials and hurried to bring them back.

No Way Around It

May 19th, 2010
7:43 pm

@Question, that is at your school. It is known that some teachers kept their students’ tests until the end of the day, claiming some showed up late! The problem was the testing coordinators weren’t strict with return the tests.

Attentive Parent

May 19th, 2010
8:00 pm

Maureen,

Does APS have a bonus system for teachers or administrators that relates to the results on CRCTs or EOCTs?

Fericita

May 19th, 2010
8:02 pm

The investigators in these cases should take into account the scores the students had this year, compared to their suspicious scores last year. They could also look at reading levels and grades to get a picture of the students abilities. It would be unlikely for the students to fail this year if they passed with flying colors on their own merit the previous year. Administrators and teachers can talk and talk about the likelihood of erasing, and the increased rate of erasing among poor students (which I think is just a ridiculous, pulled out of the air statistic), but they can’t argue with looking at the achievement level of students over the course of two years.

Teacher4APS

May 19th, 2010
8:50 pm

The cover up is ridiculous! And today we learned that APS will be rolling out their own pay for performance to be phased-in in the next 3 to 4 years. By then the economy will be better and I will be leaving! No pay for advanced degrees anymore. Instead they will use the ClassKeys assessment to determine pay increase among other things. I wonder how many other school systems will follow in their footsteps.

The AJC's Job #1

May 19th, 2010
9:19 pm

If the AJC educational staff is truly to live up to their stated mission, they have one and only one job right now.

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

Nothing else really matters at this point.

TeeJaye

May 20th, 2010
12:24 am

Has anyone ever asked to publish the “right to wrong” or “wrong to wrong” erasure rates? If so, they make cancel each other out. Urban students maybe more unsure of themselves and may erase more than suburban or rural students. Have anyone explore other districts throughout the United States to substantual or validate this trend? Please advise.

TeeJaye

May 20th, 2010
12:26 am

Has anyone ever asked to publish the “right to wrong” or “wrong to wrong” erasure rates? If so, they may cancel each other out. Urban students maybe more unsure of themselves and may erase more than suburban or rural students. Have anyone explore other districts throughout the United States to substantiate or validate this trend?

Lynn

May 20th, 2010
5:30 am

I know that at least some schools have the CRCT results back.

Is it to early for the AJC to file an open records request for those schools that were in the most severe category? Don’t compare 1st and 2nd to 3rd grade, because the test switches from being read to the student to being read by the student, but compare how last year’s third graders did in 4th, etc.

While not perfect, it should tell you something.

Been there done that

May 20th, 2010
6:30 am

I am a certified classroom teacher in a half-time position and I served as a CRCT proctor this year. The teacher in my classroom made a note of students who had “excessive” erasures by asking at the end of testing, “Did anyone do a lot of erasing, change several answers or get off on your answers in this section of the test?” The teacher then made note of the students’ names and filed away the list. This is a teacher who would not DREAM of doing anything illegal with the answer sheets…merely covering one’s a&% in today’s unbelievable classroom climate.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by blog new, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: CRCT probe seems to be doodling along at this point http://bit.ly/9zr3C1 [...]

have we forgotten?

May 20th, 2010
6:38 am

2 admin have already plead GUILTY to cheating; the rest are keeping their mouths shut and hoping it goes away. APS officials know what is going on. All the higher ups bonus monies should be frozen; none of these cheaters deserve BONUS money; with classroom teachers losing their jobs B. Hall is getting paid like $360,000 a year. Cut that pay in half along with others at the central office and you save jobs. For God sake, she gets paid more than the VP of the US. No one else sees a problem with that? I guarentee a highly qualified HONEST person would do a better job at half the cost.

catlady

May 20th, 2010
7:06 am

No Way Around It: Impossible. The tests have to be accounted for during the time window–for example, from 8-11 am, with multiple signatures.

If your school does not follow this, your administrators should be FIRED, as they have NOT followed state-mandated procedures!

Give us a break TeeJaye

May 20th, 2010
7:12 am

Urban students may be more unsure of themselves?

I doubt that. It looks like urban administrators are more unsure of their urban students, which is ironic given how quick some of them have been to play the race card in this scandal.

catlady

May 20th, 2010
7:18 am

Has anyone else noticed that the CRCT scores seem to be a lot higher this year? Were the cut scores lowered? We have too many kids who can’t read a lick who passed. If the scores were lowered (or simpler questions used) was this in response to the cheating–to make it appear that the kids did well this year?

Ms. Downey, can you give us the cut scores by subject and grades, esp. for the gateway grades of 3, 5, and 8?

APS Teacher

May 20th, 2010
7:58 am

@ No Way Around It: I’m not saying no teacher cheats. It is known that many do. But teachers who cheat don’t erase; we don’t have access to tests for long enough to do that. Teachers who cheat inflect their voice when reading answers, point to answers, etc.

@ Attentive Parent: Yes, bonuses are given for meeting targets.

need2ndjobtopaybills

May 20th, 2010
8:04 am

I don’t understand how the cheating could have occurred at these schools unless people weren’t doing the job they were entrusted with to begin with. At every school I have ever been at, I’ve had to sign the tests in and out before and after testing. They had to be returned by a certain time. If I wanted to work on cleaning up stray marks, I had to either do it in the presence of an administrator or wait until the mass school clean-up day. If a child had a problem, where he/she was off on the bubbling, I always made a note of it on the testing irregularities sheet. It was always stressed to the students that they should not do any marking out or “doodling” on the answer sheets but that they could write in the books (after all, if you’re reading them verbatim from the book as you should, it tells students this!) or on their scrap paper (math section only). I also was one of those conscientious teachers who recorded how long it took students to finish and whether or not they double-checked their work so that when a child didn’t pass, I could tell the administrators and parents that little Johnny only took 20 minutes to do his test and he didn’t bother to look back over it. But then again, maybe I’m just afraid of losing my job when test scores don’t necessarily reflect what the school and district want them to do. It’s absurd that other counties blatantly cheated on this test, but then again, would we cheat on it if we didn’t feel our jobs rested on it?

Dunwoody Mom

May 20th, 2010
8:26 am

I actually spent some time yseterday researching techniques for taking multiple choice tests. And there were many, many strategies which indicate eliminating, by marks, answers you know to be wrong and then the test-taker can work on determing the right answer. I am not going to discount this explanation at all.

catlady

May 20th, 2010
8:33 am

Dunwoody–you are right, but you WOULDN’T eliminate (HAHA) on the answer sheet! You would do it in the book, WHERE THE ANSWERS ARE WRITTEN!

V for Vendetta

May 20th, 2010
8:43 am

TeeJaye,

That might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

Maureen,

I have agreed with you on this subject from day one. There is simply NO WAY that this type of anomaly is not man-made. APS has obviously cheated, along with some other schools and districts, yet the state is sitting on its hands and trying to give everyone enough time to forget about it. (Admittedly, with all of the bad news we’re inundated with on a daily basis, it’s a technique that just might work.) If I were a taxpayer in the APS system, I would be outraged. Though Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton–especially Cobb–have made their fair share of mistakes the past year or so, this widespread dishonesty should result in a complete dismantling of the APS system. Though Clayton’s crimes were subtler and over a longer period of time, I honestly don’t think they were any worse than what APS has done.

Bev Hall should be unceremoniously fired–so should any administrators who took part in this activity. This “investigation,” as it’s called, is a perfect example of why we need to get the government out of the education business.

JJ

May 20th, 2010
8:47 am

On a flight from the West coast a few weeks ago I sat next to a gentleman from one of the large testing companies. We talked about the cheating scandal in GA and he said he was not surprised and many states have a much bigger problem than we do. What does that tell you?
So are we comparing actual test scores from state to state or who cheats the best???

Put the money where it should go

May 20th, 2010
8:47 am

One has to admit that the incentive to change scores is very high when money is attached to the outcome. This is true for all professions. The problem is that the money is displaced. Better to have a student earn 100 dollars if they receive a 90% than rewarding the teacher with bonus pay. Pay the teachers more and lessen there burdens and give students a monetary incentive to succeed. Watch the scores rise.

Laurie

May 20th, 2010
10:49 am

TeeJaye wrote:

“Has anyone ever asked to publish the ‘right to wrong’ or ‘wrong to wrong’ erasure rates?”

Yes, I have asked this specific question at least a half dozen times in comments to this blog, as well as in emails to the AJC reporters covering this story.

The question has not yet been answered, although the state has this data in its possession. Apparently the AJC is now trying to get the this data, though it hasn’t said whether it’s received the data or is now in the process of analyzing it. See last page of comments to this blog post:

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/04/29/crct-probe-dougherty-county-review-finds-no-evidence-of-cheating/

APS IS CORRUPT

May 20th, 2010
11:06 am

Everyone on the inside knows for a fact that wide-spread cheating occurred. Everyone on the inside also knows about the nepotism and cronyism that takes place when it comes to job creation and hiring. Everyone on the inside knows that GA tax dollars are being sent to out of state businesses while local businesses crumble. Loyal, dedicated and responsible employees are being laid off without any prior warning while the crooks at the top get their big bonuses and create jobs and business opportunities for their friends and families. Oh the stories I could tell and PROVE regarding corruption and policy violation! The organization is top heavy and they’re cutting at the bottom. Departments that have zero impact in the classroom have quadrupled in size and budget while departments that directly impact the classroom have been eliminated. Sad thing is, Beverly Hall, just like Benjamin Canada before her, has already made her millions at the GA taxpayers expense. Her and a few other short-term contracted administrators will simply move on and leave everyone else to have to clean up their mess. The board should pay closer attention to these people’s work history before hiring them. They are like locusts in that they come to a place, devour all they can and then move on to the next.

You Asked

May 20th, 2010
11:17 am

Did someone just play the Erase card?

another aps teacher

May 20th, 2010
9:25 pm

@Catlady: 800=53%, 829=70%. 850=80%.

At my middle school we regularly get 6th graders who can not add, subtract, multiply, divide, read, write, or spell and they have really great GCRCT scores in 3rd and 5th grade, but horrible scores in the other grades. Go figure.

2teacher4ever

May 20th, 2010
11:01 pm

“At least one, Walton County, said it did not find violations but expected to put a letter of concern in a teacher’s file.”

So, they found no violations but will put a “letter of concern” in a teacher’s file? If there were no violations then what’s the letter of concern about? Is that like saying “We had violations but we didn’t or one teacher did but “WE” didn’t. I am confused!

Laurie

May 21st, 2010
6:56 am

“So, they found no violations but will put a “letter of concern” in a teacher’s file?”

I am just guessing, but maybe the teacher didn’t follow proper procedures, procedures that are designed to protect against cheating, but there was not enough proof that the teacher actually cheated??

Lisa

May 21st, 2010
9:28 am

The students must get 50% of the questions correct for reading and math to pass. When did 50 become a passing score? On Social Studies and Science, they only have to get 30% correct. Technically, a student can guess and pass. When a student fails, they TRULY do not have a clue. I am a teacher, and I can tell you that students pass who barely know how to read.

Lisa

May 21st, 2010
9:31 am

Parents, look at your child’s CRCT report. Do they tell you how many questions they answered correctly or do they just give you a score? They don’t give you that info because they don’t want you to know that your child really scored a 50.

AP

May 21st, 2010
11:31 am

I know of two Gwinnett county testing coordinators who were busted for having an extra marital affair this past April. Both Richards Middle and GIVE Center West are not great testing schools. Does the county monitor how these Administrators work with each other and how it may effect the proper and fair testing in our schools? If this conduct is hidden from the public, what other academic indiscretions by these same administrators is being covered up in Gwinnett. It is apparent some administrators have lost focus on serving our students.

cricket

May 21st, 2010
8:55 pm

If answering 50% of the questions correctly will put the student over the 800 mark, an illiterate student can pass. It happened in my room this year. I have a 2nd grade student who has never made more than a 30 on a spelling test. His only passing grades this year were on multiple choice tests. A short answer test is an automatic 0 for this kid but he actually passed the reading, language arts, and math sections of the CRCT. This child can’t read a lick and sure as heck couldn’t write a sentence even if his life depended on it. Apparently, this test was so easy that a non-reader can pass it. What does that tell you? Only a child with severe learning or instructional deficits could fail? Not so quick. I have three other students who are on grade level in reading, can pass comprehension and short answer tests, make 100 on almost every spelling test, that failed all three parts of the same flippin’ CRCT! These students actually “have a clue” and can do grade level work. Of course, I have to be standing over them, threatening to make them do it over until they get it right but THEY CAN DO IT! They just didn’t care what they made on the CRCT. They failed the CRCT because they just couldn’t be bothered to listen to the teacher read the questions and/or possible answers.

My point in telling this story is to help some of you who are not educators understand that the cause behind many failing scores is not poor instruction by teachers but pure laziness by students. Some kids really do not care.

Dekalbite

May 22nd, 2010
11:55 am

My understanding is the “cut” scores have been lowered. That’s what I call cheating, and it’s worse than a few erasure marks. By lowering the “pass” and “exceeds” scores on the CRCT, EOCT and GHSGT in order to make your “pass” and “exceeds” rate to look better, you “cheat” every child in the Georgia school system. If you want to prosecute someone, I would suggest you start with the person who decided to lower the “cut” scores in order to show “academic progress” when there was none. Governor Perdue needs to understand that when his administration manipulates the scores to increase high school graduation rates, this is just as wrong from an educational and honesty standpoint as erasing and changing answers on a test. Both are subverting a true assessment of what students have attained academically.

Special Education teacher

May 22nd, 2010
9:43 pm

The test scores are back and Parks Middle School fell almost thirty points. I told you so, that principal is slickwilly, with his hundred thousand dollor BMW. How does a principal afford a car like that.

Annie

May 23rd, 2010
5:36 pm

The CRCT erasure analysis was never reliable- the information was used in a way that was not statistically sound. That is why so many school districts’ reports point to other variables.
I would like to know the total amount expended by already cash-strappe districts in completing the investigations.