Cheating on Achievement Test Probed

Thursday, October 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Five of 51 public schools under investigation cheated on California's high-stakes standardized tests, officials say.

The questionable tests were flagged by the test publisher, Doug Stone, a spokesman for the state Education Department, said Wednesday.

``By going through the scoring sheets, they came across some with an unusually high number of erasure marks'' changing incorrect answers to correct ones, he said.

The schools now face inquiries on whether student test scores were ``inappropriately influenced'' by teachers or other staff members, state Superintendent Delaine Eastin said.

``Out of 6,200 schools, to have just 50 (investigated) isn't so bad,'' Eastin added. ``There was very little cheating. We know that as a fact.''

The five schools are now ineligible for improvement awards from the state for two years.

However, more than two-thirds improved enough to share in $677 million in rewards. Teachers and principals whose schools were in the bottom half of the state last year and improved the most this year will get the biggest individual bonuses, $5,000 to $25,000 per person.

The rewards are dependent on improvement in the state's Academic Performance Index for 6,209 schools from 1999 to this year.

The index, released Wednesday, is based on the statewide achievement test. Rankings were not released for schools where cheating was suspected or confirmed.

``There are a lot of consequences for doing well and for not doing well,'' said Ken Epstein, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, where three schools are under investigation.


On the Net:

California Department of Education: