Officials in South Carolina are investigating old test results at a poor, inner-city Charleston elementary school that had been hailed as a miraculous success story. Under principal, MiShawna Moore, standardized test scores went through the roof. But she departed last spring for a job in North Carolina, and scores from tests taken shortly before she left dropped dramatically, the Associated Press reports.
Officials are now questioning what they call an unusual number of erasure marks on old tests. Law enforcement is investigating, and parents once impressed with the school’s record are second-guessing enrolling their children and worried what the publicity will do to the school.
Paul Tough had an interesting piece on Slate about the potential for cheating on tests the other day. He noted that “basing teacher compensation in part on test scores gives teachers an incentive not just to ‘teach to the test,’ but to game the test completely. He quoted an email from a young New York City teacher whose students were outraged she wouldn’t help them on the test to illustrate his point.
Part of my own skepticism about the validity of tests was borne of my experience teaching 5th grade in the South Bronx. Every year I had students come to my room with very poor math skills, yet they had somehow managed to score at or above grade level on the 4th grade math tests. How did that happen? Hmmm.