D.C. Public Schools invalidate some test scores over cheating

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Standardized test scores in three classes at three District of Columbia schools have been invalidated as a result of an investigation into whether cheating was at the root of a jump in test scores throughout the city.

D.C. Public Schools officials said that teachers at three schools - Hyde Leadership Public Charter School and Langdon Elementary School in Northeast and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Southeast - committed "critical" cheating violations.

An investigation revealed that teachers and proctors at each of those three schools gave students correct answers and gave students unauthorized help during testing. However, D.C. Schools Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley said that the investigation did not turn up any indications of widespread cheating.

"It's unfortunate that two teachers could not figure out how to ensure their students were successful without going down a dark path," D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said. "Those people will go through our disciplinary process and be terminated.

All of the questions spawn from the administration of 2011 Comprehensive Assessment System tests, which are given to 2nd through 12h grade public and charter school students in the District.

The results came at the end of an extended investigation that began in March, after a USA Today report revealed that more than 100 D.C. schools showed unusually high rates of erasures on tests. Nine other schools committed moderate violations, officials said, while 11 others reported minor issues.

One of the things schools use the test scores for is to rank teacher performance and award pay raises and bonuses.

"When you put so much stake into a test that determines if a teacher has a job, I can understand what would make a teacher want to do that," D.C. school parent Tomiko Graves said.

At one point, the U.S. Department of Transportation was involved in the investigation, which involved thousands of classrooms across the District.

In total, 70 classrooms in 38 schools in the District were flagged for investigation during the probe, a small fraction of the more than 5,000 classrooms that administered tests.

The investigation cost the District $400,000 in taxpayer money to undertake.