Apparently logic isn’t a virtue among journalists or TEA officials.
But the problems identified for the 609 schools aren’t all the same. Some had TAKS results that seem beyond the pale – like the one where the answer sheets of 89 of a classroom’s 91 students were virtually identical. Caveon flagged other schools for having only a few students with suspiciously similar answer patterns.
The problem is that schools don’t know which group they fall in – and for now, there’s no way for them to find out.
Except, that some do as the story says later on.
Three Conroe high schools landed on the Caveon list, all for unusual test gains.
But we all know that what it really comes down to is money.
Dr. Neeley said those scores – which Caveon considers statistically unlikely to have occurred naturally – are instead indications of hard work by educators.”I’m not trying to say it should be a badge of valor to be on that list, but every superintendent should be able to explain why those student gains were so good,” she said in the interview Friday. “As much effort as we concentrate on closing the achievement gap, I would be disappointed if we didn’t have significant gains.”
Dr. Neeley said the wealthy districts on the list – including many considering self-investigations – are unlikely to cheat.
“You look at Highland Park, Richardson, Eanes,” she said, naming some of the state’s wealthiest districts in the Dallas and Austin areas. “Do they have to cheat to have good scores? I gave a talk in Eanes not long ago and said, ‘Do you people think Westlake High School had to cheat to get good scores?’ “
The above statement has several possible implications.
1. Wealthy districts have money so they don’t need to cheat to raise their scores since they have enough money to do it in a legal method. So, raising test scores takes money?
2. People who work, live, and attend school in wealthy districts don’t cheat. Ever hear about Enron? Those people all went to school somewhere and I bet it wasn’t Edgewood. Some of the worst cheaters I know if school were the richest. The cheated because they knew if they got caught, mommy or daddy would bail them out and had the means to do so.
3. Ever consider that because these districts were expected to have better scores they actually had more incentive to cheat than those that didn’t? Or is this just a variation of the Enron theme?
4. That the director of the Texas Education Agency has some sort of bias concerning the honesty of people with regard to money.
5. Why are these districts scores so low that a big jump is even noticeable?
As she put it in her e-mail exchange with Mr. Nelson, himself a former state education commissioner: “Am so sorry about all the anguish this has caused, because the bottom line is we are being punished for working hard and doing a good job to close the achievement gap.”
Unless, of course, you happen to come from a poor district, then we might be suspicious.
When the Caveon list was released in May, TEA officials said it would let districts decide whether to investigate themselves. But that changed when it became clear that 14 schools on the list were due state bonuses because of their high test scores.
So if you have money, you don’t cheat. But if you could get money, you might consider cheating?
Now the agency plans to investigate all 14 of those schools, plus an uncertain number of others. “We need to figure out where to draw the line,” Dr. Neeley said. Officials said those decisions should be made within a month.
I’m sure if she just looked at the average per pupil expenditure, she would find it very easy to draw.