April 24, 2014

Test tampering reported at Davenport elementary school

The Davenport Community School District is reporting that standardized tests at an elementary school in the district were tampered with to increase the scores of students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. District officials say they don’t know who changed student’s answers on the Iowa Assessment reading tests this year, but say the test-tampering was isolated to Madison Elementary School.

Arthur Tate is the superintendent for the district. “The staff is devastated,” Tate says. District officials figured out that the tests were altered by looking at student’s answers. On average, most students erase and change one or two answers on the reading test. But at Madison Elementary, the number of changed answers shot up to more than seven per student. And 75% of the time, those new answers were correct.

“I don’t know of what incentive would cause someone to do something this bad,” Tate says. “No one gets additional pay. No Child Left Behind has an annual yearly progress that schools need to meet, but whether that could be a personal incentive for someone is hard for me to tell.”

Madison students will be retested next week, with additional proctors.

Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass released the following statement about the reported testing improprieties at Madison Elementary School in Davenport:

Accurate assessment data help all of us do our part to improve student learning in Iowa. Tampering with test data only serves to shortchange our students and to undermine the honest work of dedicated teachers. We take the integrity of state testing data very seriously, and so do the vast majority of school administrators and teachers across Iowa.

The Davenport Community School District first notified the Department in March that there was a concern of possible cheating on the state assessment at Madison Elementary School. The school district notified us this week that the allegation was substantiated during a district-level investigation, but that the district had not determined who was responsible.

The Iowa Department of Education is obligated by state law to report alleged testing misconduct by licensed school employees to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. As such, I have directed the Davenport Community School District to submit all investigatory materials, evidence, and reports relevant to its investigation of Madison Elementary School to the Iowa Department of Education for further review. Based on this review, I will determine whether it’s appropriate to file an ethics complaint with the Board of Educational Examiners. The Department reserves the right to conduct further investigations as necessary.

In addition, because these test results are used for accountability purposes under the federal No Child Left Behind law, a decision must be made as to whether some or all of Madison Elementary School’s test results will be invalidated, an action that could affect the school’s ability to meet Adequate Yearly Progress state targets for participation and proficiency under No Child Left Behind.

Finally, I have notified the Scott County Attorney’s Office of this issue for potential further investigation.