Widespread cheating in schools is not exclusive to any one area in the country, a new report reveals. Atlanta was rocked by a cheating scandal last year, and an extensive investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has found “suspicious” standardized test scores in nearly 200 school districts nationwide.
The investigation analyzed standardized test scores from 69,000 public schools and found high concentrations of suspicious math and reading scores. Though the analysis does not prove cheating, it does reveal that test scores in hundreds of cities followed a pattern similar to that of schools in Atlanta that cheated. Additionally, four independent experts determined that the scores were too dramatic to be explained by demographic shifts, chance or even good teaching.
“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement to the AJC after being briefed on the paper's analysis.
In one example, the AJC found 42 percent of fourth-graders passed the Missouri standardized math test in 2010 at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis. The following year, however, just 4 percent of those students passed math when they took the test as fifth-graders.
In 2009, a local AJC investigation of cheating in Atlanta Public Schools prompted a state probe, which found that 180 educators at 44 Atlanta schools were involved with test-tampering.
So far, one teacher has been fired. Disciplinary hearings are scheduled through the month.
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(Photo: Commercial Appeal/Landov)