Cheating scandals continue to rock school districts around the country, and this week five schools in Los Angeles County are in the spotlight. According to Howard Blume of The Los Angeles Times, the schools have been stripped of their Academic Performance Index scores due to allegations of misconduct during the administration of state-mandated standardized tests.
This means that a total of 27 schools around California have lost their API scores — 4 more than last year. The loss of a rating is an extremely harsh penalty, because schools are required to meet the state- and federally-mandated academic performance targets. Failure to meet those targets could result not only in loss of funding but other sanctions such as removal of all members of the administration and faculty.
The loss of API scores can even have an impact on neighborhood's property values, as real-estate agents use them in property appraisals.
In one class, a teacher is thought to have helped students erase wrong answers. In another, a teacher was accused of working out problems on the board during the test.
Compton Unified had several blemishes. At Kennedy Elementary, a 5th-grade teacher "had written a chart on the white board" during the test to help students.
"Disciplinary action is in process," the district wrote in its report to the state.
Investigators looking into testing irregularities at Compton's Walton Middle School concluded that at least two teachers pointed out wrong answers to their students during the exam and instructed students to fix their mistakes. A 6th grade teacher in the same school allowed students additional time on the exam, ignoring the time limits set by the state.
Teachers either providing hints or outright telling students when they got questions wrong seemed to have been the most common type of cheating found. Investigators identified instances of that type of cheating at Norma Coombs Alternative School in Pasadena, William McKinley Elementary School in Burbank and Piute Middle School in Lancaster.
Nearly half the students at Mar Vista Middle School in San Diego practiced with work sheets that were apparently based on actual math test items. Three teachers reportedly used the review sheets, but it wasn't clear how many knew the materials were suspect.
A student's bloody nose led to the discovery of alleged wrongdoing at Arroyo Elementary in Ontario. A stricken third-grader who went to the office for assistance began chatting with the principal. The student volunteered that he knew he did well on an earlier portion of the test because the teacher "taps once on the test if they get problems right and twice if they are wrong."
"I asked him what happens when she taps twice," the principal reported.
"You go back and work some more," the student said.