An independent audit of standardized tests administered to children in the District of Columbia shows a very low rate of serious cheating.
Tests, in April of 2011, were administered in 262 different school buildings. "Critical violations" were confirmed in only three classrooms, according to a report issued by Hosanna Mahaley, the State Superintendent of Education in D.C.
Two of the classrooms in which testing improprieties occurred happened in D.C. Public School buildings: Martin Luther King Elementary School and Langdon Elementary School.
Kaya Henderson, the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, told reporters, "There are a very small number of adults who made a conscious decision to cheat. And those people will no longer teach in D.C. public schools."
Test scores in D.C. have been controversial for several years, in part, because of the tenure of the previous Chancellor, Michelle Rhee. She used her broad authority to get rid of about a third of the city's teachers over a several-year period. Test scores appeared to improve, but a nine-month investigation by USA Today revealed a shockingly high rate of erasures on the tests. In most cases, the erasures changed an incorrect answer to a correct answer.
The city's Inspector General is examining the test scores from that period of time, but has not yet issued a report. A spokeswoman in his office would confirm only that the probe remains "active."
The third school in which significant testing improprieties occurred happened at a charter school: Perry Street Prep, formerly called the Hyde Leadership School. Marketing Director Holly Cherico said the school apologizes to the parents of the third graders in the affected classroom.
"We are revamping our test administration procedures and tightening security," said Cherico, who added, "We take very seriously our responsibility to administer tests in an ethical fashion."
Statement from Scott Pearson, Executive Director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board on the results of the DC CAS testing investigation:
"Testing integrity is extremely important to the DC Public Charter School Board, as DC CAS test results are the most critical part of the formula we use in the Performance Management Framework to assess and place schools in tiers. We take testing violations very seriously. We are grateful to OSSE for the work they have done with the investigation. It does not appear that the incidents found in charter schools are systemic. We will be working with those schools that had irregularities to ensure that these incidents do not occur again."