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Gainesville schools to be visited by auditors

State investigating changed answers on CRCT exams

POSTED: March 8, 2010 12:05 a.m.

Auditors will visit two Gainesville schools this week to investigate last month’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test erasure analysis that found an abnormally high number of erased and changed answers on last spring’s test.

The investigation was ordered by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for all schools with 25 percent or more classrooms flagged for a high number of wrong-to-right changed answers on the test.

Today, a pair of auditors from the Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency will visit Gainesville Exploration Academy and Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School.

Gainesville Exploration was the only school in the city system to have more than 25 percent of its classrooms flagged for having an unusually high number erasures. This placed the school in the “severe” category, which includes 73 other Georgia schools that will be investigated on a local and state level.

Fair Street was flagged as a “moderate” concern with 13.9 percent of its classrooms found to have an unusual number of erasures.

The investigation begins this morning, when auditors will meet with Superintendent Merrianne Dyer and school personnel who directly handled the tests from last year for questioning. The audit will be completed by Friday.

To prepare for the meeting, the schools were asked to provide documentation that personnel was trained on test administration, the test day schedules, locations of proctors, the number of special needs and second-language English students who were tested in smaller groups and a list of anyone who had keys or access to testing rooms, Dyer said.

“Our role is to provide answers to their questions and then get out of their way so they can do the audit independently,” she said.

On top of the audit, the school board ordered an independent analysis of the erasure analysis performed by McGraw Hill. Dyer said they contracted a company to look at the results and determine if they truly indicate possible cheating on the test and offer a better idea of how many erasure marks are normal on standardized testing.

“They’ll also have qualitative research about erasure patterns with students with disabilities and English-language learners,” she said.

“They can give us a report that can give us a better picture of what happened as far as this data was concerned.”

Dyer also met with a Clark Atlanta University professor who specializes in statistics and may offer his own report on the erasure analysis.

The audit was ordered by the board not to exceed $5,000 and Dyer said they are on budget. The audit report will be presented at the board’s March 31 meeting. Flagged schools in 43 other districts are organizing similar audits and reports are due to the OSA by April 1.

“We’re looking forward to getting it over with,” she said. “I really commend our teachers at all our schools for keeping their focus. They have had a pay cut, teacher furloughs and now they’re having to deal with this. They have just been troopers.”



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