The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has wrapped up a three-day hearing about suspiciously high test results from a Davenport elementary school.
Former Madison Elementary School principal Sara Gott has been charged with misrepresenting or falsifying information along with one count of unethical practice, charges that could end her education career. Gott denies the charges. Gott told the board this week that she didn’t believe anyone at her school would have altered the answers on the yearly “Iowa Assessment” test — until she was shown the answer sheets during the investigation.
“The eraser marks were all in the same vicinity on the answer sheet,” Gott testified, “and I knew then that I was starting to see what they were talking about. And then the next student had 35 eraser marks.”
According to Gott, another principal in the district warned her just before she took the job at Madison Elementary in 2011 that the school’s test results were skewed.
“She has been concerned for years and has talked to the district office about elevated test scores at Madison,” Gott told the board. “Not just test scores, but when those students get to J.B. Young, there’s always been a very high concern that their abilities are not what they’re showing.”
J.B. Young is a junior high school in Davenport. Gott admitted during this week’s hearing that she shared copies of the previous year’s tests to help students prepare for the annual standardized tests, but Gott says it was her understanding the practice was commonplace in the district.
Gott no longer works at Madison Elementary. She was reassigned last year to serve as principal at another school in Davenport. It will likely be several weeks before the Board of Education Examiners issues its decision on the case.