Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CMS testing violations update

This weekend I reported on the Atlanta testing scandal and how some folks fear the advent of hundreds of new high-stakes tests in CMS might leave local schools vulnerable to similar improprieties. CMS testing chief Chris Cobitz told me then that the school system investigated 11 alleged violations of its testing code of ethics this spring, and substantiated six cases. When I asked for the names of the schools involved, he cited employee confidentiality rules and said he didn't want to give out too many specifics for fear of identifying particular staff members.

But it turns out at least one case (and the name of the school) has already been in the paper. An irate father from James Martin Middle school called me back during end-of-grade testing season to tell me his son had passed his EOG, only to be told he'd have to take it over because the school didn't have enough proctors present. Hundreds of other children had to retake as well. Now, WBTV is reporting that a second of the 11 cases involves Vance High. CMS spokeswoman Kasia Thompson says it stemmed from a problem with the administration of Vance's 10th grade writing test. All Vance 10th graders had to re-take the test. She said Vance and James Martin accounted for the vast majority of the 1,000 or so CMS kids who had to re-take tests this spring because of irregularities.

The Observer and other news outlets have asked for more details on the other alleged testing improprieties from this spring. Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh has made clear the rollout of the new summative tests will continue, with an aim toward providing a better gauge of teacher effectiveness. With teacher pay at issue as well, the stakes couldn't be higher. Needless to say, it's a subject we'll be keeping a close eye on.

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