Indiana

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Documents Suggest Teacher Cheated On Statewide Test — Were Other Staff Involved, Too?

WTHR has the story of a potential cheating scandal at Washington Township’s North Central High School:

According to a tip to Eyewitness News, a science teacher at North Central copied ECA questions and answers by looking over students’ shoulders while they took the biology tests in 2009 and 2010. That teacher then distributed the questions to other North Central teachers, who used them to help prepare students for last year’s exam. A copy of those questions was delivered to WTHR.

North Central, which boasts the third largest high school enrollment in Indiana, saw a 20% improvement in its Biology ECA test scores in 2011. While many other schools around the state saw a similar improvement, the 2011 scores at North Central are now under serious scrutiny…

IDOE has confirmed some of the leaked test questions were on the 2011 Biology ECA and are also on this year’s biology test, which students across Indiana are taking right now…

Internal e-mails and staff notes from North Central High School… show a North Central science teacher was assigned the task of bringing ECA test questions to a staff meeting of science teachers in August 2010. That teacher later promised to “e-mail everyone” a copy of the questions.

“It’s clearly not the actions of just one individual,” added Wes Bruce, Chief Assessment Officer at the Indiana Department of Education, in an interview with WTHR’s Bob Segall. “That shows a lot more planning in terms of trying to game the system and cheat children.”

The ECA’s are the “end-of-course” assessments all Indiana high school students are required to take. Passing an Algebra I and English 10 ECA is a graduation requirement.

WTHR reported the cheating allegations involve a Biology end-of-course assessment that isn’t a graduation requirement.

We wrote last week about the first whispers of these cheating allegations trickling out into the press, but details were still scarce in North Central’s case.

On Friday, IDOE spokesperson Stephanie Sample told StateImpact she thought it would be hard for a breech in testing security to be chalked up to an innocent, honest mistake.

“The protocol is pretty clearly spelled out to the test coordinators in each school building. There’s a script you have to read, a clear list of ‘do’s-and-don’ts,’” she said last week. “There’s really no reason for anything like this to happen.”

As we’ve reported, Indiana education officials have asked teachers to begin signing ethics pledges before administering statewide tests. State officials know of 11 total instances in the 2010-11 school year where testing security rules were broken.

According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Hammond school officials had suspended three teachers without pay during an investigation into a breech of testing rules there. Hammond High School’s principal told The Times a teacher had e-mailed a prompt to other teachers out of frustration — which is against testing rules.

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