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Hub MCAS exams may have been tampered with

Hub MCAS exams may have been tampered with

By Colneth Smiley Jr.  |   Saturday, April 9, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Coverage

An investigation into the MCAS exams of a Hub “turnaround school” uncovered testing irregularities including “erasing marks from incorrect answers to correct answers on tests that led to higher scores,” according to a schools spokesman.

MCAS exams from the Blackstone Elementary School in 2010 were scrutinized in an eight-month investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and showed tests taken by third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students may have been tampered with to gain higher ratio scores.

“It is troubling that someone might think they are helping students by attempting to falsely inflate test scores. It’s also unacceptable,” Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said in a release. “Thankfully, we have put strong systems in place to detect these anomalies, so we were able to act quickly to review the irregularities in these scores,” said Johnson.

Questions were raised about the exams last fall by the newly appointed principal Stephen Zrike after he noticed scores seemed higher than anticipated. Zrike left the Blackstone in December for a job in Chicago’s public school system.

Although the investigation by DESE was inconclusive in determining whether the tests were tampered with and could not pinpoint the source of irregularities, the exams were voided because of their unusually high scores.

“Students involved won’t retest, and it won’t effect their grades or progress through Boston Public Schools,” said schools spokesman Matthew Wilder.

Blackstone Elementary receives benefits from the Education Reform legislation after it was identified by the state as one of Boston’s 12 turnaround schools in January of 2010.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1329440

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