March 08, 2012

DCPS to Participate in OSSE Led Independent Testing Integrity Investigation  

TODAY AT 4:30: DCPS to Hold Background Call with Reporters to Discuss Flagging Methodology

Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz | 202.535.1096

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District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) will support an independent investigation into 2011 DC CAS results to be conducted by Alvarez and Marsal Public Sector Services, LLC (A&M), DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced today. A&M, a leading independent global professional services firm, selected and managed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), will examine standardized test results in DC public and charter schools. In addition to welcoming the OSSE-led investigation, DCPS will also request A&M’s investigation of an additional set of classrooms.

“DCPS takes testing integrity and any accusations or suspicions of improprieties very seriously. Testing gives us a clear, accurate measurement of student performance and it indicates whether or not DCPS is moving toward the high standards for student achievement we have set,” said Henderson. “I feel strongly that our principals, teachers and students can produce superior student achievement results -- I want to ensure public confidence in those results.”

The investigation announced today will look into classrooms flagged for possible testing concerns following receipt and analyses of the actual test results from the 2011 DC CAS. The classrooms that were flagged for further review had high wrong-to-right erasure rates and statistically aberrant student gains from 2010-2011. These gains could be an indication that certain exams were compromised, or it could be a direct reflection of exceptional instruction.

“DCPS cannot and will not tolerate any breach of security in our testing methods or protocols,” said Cate Swinburn, Chief in the Office of Data and Accountability. “Even one example of impropriety poses a threat to the hard, demanding work that each and every one of our employees puts in on a daily basis. But we in no way should jump to conclusions – an investigator’s presence in a particular school or in particular classroom over the next few months is not an indictment of that school, their teachers, their principal or their students.”

The OSSE and DCPS both use achievement and answer sheet metrics to flag classrooms for potential impropriety. The OSSE has three performance metrics including classrooms flagged for CAS growth percentile, low within class variation scores and wrong-to-right erasures in 2010 and 2011. DCPS has instituted similar and additional metrics for a total of five, including CAS growth percentile, the percentage of students improving one or more performance levels from 2010 to 2011, growth percentiles based on the DC Benchmark Assessment System and the CAS and wrong-to-right erasures in 2010 and 2011.

The OSSE has identified 16 schools and 24 classrooms. DCPS’s methodology identified an additional 14 schools and 36 classrooms with a total of 30 DCPS schools and 60 DCPS classrooms to be investigated. This total will result in a more robust investigation pool, representing 25 percent of DCPS schools and 5 percent of DCPS tested classrooms.

“I feel confident in the OSSE and DCPS’ complementary methodologies. While it is almost certain that we will be investigating some our strongest educators who have made outsized gains in student achievement, we have also very likely triangulated those classrooms where improprieties – if there were any – occurred,” said Swinburn. “These methodologies, paired with the OSSE’ engagement of a third-party evaluator, reflect the recommendations of many national experts on testing integrity.”

After A&M has completed its investigation, it will release a final report to OSSE, which will, in turn, provide DCPS with a report of findings. If A&M does find evidence of impropriety, DCPS will take swift action.

For more information about the flagging methodology, please RSVP here for a background call with DCPS officials.

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