March 31, 2011

DC Public Schools Releases All 2009 DC CAS Security Investigation Reports 

Acting Chancellor Henderson requests review of cheating allegations

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WASHINGTON - In response to allegations of cheating in a USA Today article, Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson made public the independent 2009 DC CAS security reviews which found no evidence of cheating at any of the schools flagged for possible testing irregularities by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

“Ensuring that our standardized tests are administered with the highest level of integrity is of the utmost importance,” said Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “That commitment was why we chose to bring in an outside firm to investigate possible cheating and why it is critical now for us to release the reports. When these types of allegations are made, public trust and accountability are undermined so we must ensure that we leave no question unanswered.”

DCPS has established procedures to ensure testing integrity and to flag any concerns. Following the 2009 DC CAS, DCPS elected to contract with an independent, third-party expert with unmatched experience to review security concerns raised by the OSSE at eight schools. Caveon Test Security, the firm DCPS selected, concluded that there was no cheating, a point emphasized in its final report and in a statement released Monday evening by its president, John Fremer.

“Caveon, via onsite interviews, review of testing policies and procedures, test score data review, and review of individual school DC CAS Observation Reports in Noyes Elementary School and seven other schools, did not find evidence that any misbehavior occurred,” the report reads. 

“Many of the gains and high erasures are plausible, given the evaluation process by Caveon. Onsite interviews will send the message that test security is taken very seriously at DCPS.”

DCPS does not typically release documents based merely on allegations of wrongdoing. However, the mischaracterization of DCPS’ test results made this step necessary.

“Caveon’s report absolved a number of people of wrongdoing. It’s not fair that people who’ve been cleared have the taint of an investigation over their heads,” Chancellor Henderson said.

 “We were not required to bring in a third-party investigator, but we did because we’re committed to accountability. We followed OSSE’s testing security guidelines, did more than OSSE required of us, and we followed recommendations when next steps were suggested.”

In addition to finding no wrongdoing, Caveon also noted that the test observations did not reveal the need for further action. Their report suggested action at one school – Stanton – and DCPS followed Caveon’s guidance to improve testing security there.

DCPS paid Caveon about $100,000 in both 2009 and 2010 to have the company review testing security protocols and determine ways to strengthen them. OSSE adjusts DCPS’ Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) gains to remove any invalidated scores, and increases security as necessary to ensure the highest integrity moving forward.

“The integrity of test scores is perhaps more important to us than any other district because we use the test scores in important ways -- evaluation, compensation,” Chancellor Henderson said. “We have no interest in basing these important decisions on information that has anything less than the utmost integrity.”

To further address the public’s concerns and answer any outstanding questions, Acting Chancellor Henderson asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate USA Today’s allegations of cheating.

“We know our schools are improving,” she said. “Our children are learning and I want the public to share our confidence.”

Caveon Consulting Services Releases Statement in Response to USA Today Article - March 28, 2011

Birney- Caveon Investigation February 24, 2010

Burville - Caveon Investigation February 23, 2010

Noyes - Caveon Investigation February 24, 2010

Shaed - Caveon Investigation February 24, 2010

Sousa - Caveon Investigation February 24, 2010

Stanton - Caveon Investigation February 23, 2010

Tyler - Caveon Investigation February 23, 2010

Walker Jones- Caveon Investigation February 23, 2010

Clarification on Redacted Investigation Reports: In order to preserve the anonymity of individual staff members, DCPS has redacted all names from these documents. Also redacted are specific references that could identify an individual – for example grade levels or specific programs in which a staff member participated. In the cases of principals or school testing coordinators, we have redacted their full interview, as each school has only one person in each of those roles. All instances of redaction are noted. In redacting these documents, DCPS aims to be fair to those individuals who have been cleared of any testing impropriety and to reassure staff in the future that any concerns they might raise about such impropriety will be kept in confidence.

Inside DCPS Highlights.


           

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