Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Do I Think PPSD High Schools Cheated On the NECAP?


A few years ago, Feinstein High School and some of the small high schools at Hope High shot up 40 or even 50 points in reading proficiency on the NECAP in the space of two years. This is pretty much unheard of.

In case you're wondering (given the news from Atlanta), I don't think this was due to cheating, for a few reasons:

  • In both cases, the schools had been undergoing comprehensive reform processes for a while, and it was clear that the reading scores were lagging overall improvement. In both cases, there was a lot more attention given to preparing the test in the years the scores went up.
  • Only the reading scores went up, not math.
  • In both cases there were relatively strong writing scores, including preceding the reading score gains. There is no reason to cheat on the writing test, as it is ignored for accountability purposes. I suspect it would be difficult, too, since you'd have to hand write student responses.
  • Feinstein student scores were still good a year after the school closed and the students dispersed.
  • E-Cubed, the remaining school with a similar design to Feinstein and Hope Arts, continues to have strong scores.
  • No PPSD high school pursuing a different turnaround strategy -- even when many of the same teachers or administrators are involved -- has posted similar gains. That is, we were actually doing the right thing for a while, before it was stopped.

On the other hand, I did occasionally hear about various little irregularities, like students mysteriously repeating 10th grade and then skipping 11th, but there never seemed to be anything systematic going on.

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