If TAKS scores go up unexpectedly, you can be flagged for cheating when all you really did was, well, what you were supposed to do:
For example, Northside’s Pease Middle School was flagged for gains in eighth-grade math. But districts don’t know which individual student scores stood out. “If they gave us the data files, we could link it back to a ton of things our schools did,” said Sandra Poth, Northside’s testing director. At Pease, the district doubled the time eighth-grade students were in math class from the 2003-04 school year to the 2004-05 year. Students went from 45 minutes of math each day to 90.
But then again, there are those who can’t really point to any reason for gains in test scores:
North East Superintendent Richard Middleton said it’s nearly impossible to police a system that tests millions of students each year. North East had one school flagged — Bush Middle School — for gains in sixth-grade math.
Maybe it’s time to start looking beyond just numbers for both schools and students. Tests are a valuable tool, but they aren’t the complete answer.