T.E.A. Concludes Investigation of Possible Cheating on TAKS Test

by Ramonica R. Jones The Texas Education Agency is no longer investigating nearly 600 schools for TAKS testing irregularities. Several East Texas campuses, including Lufkin Middle School, Centerville Junior High School, Centerville High School, and Center Middle School, were on the list. T.E.A. Inspector General Michael Donley said, "There will be some significant changes. The biggest changes that will affect the school districts are that the analysis would be done by T.E.A. in-house so that their name would not be released until after the investigation and the formula that identifies the schools in the Caveon report is held to be proprietary by Caveon - they don't tell you how you got on the list - and that would change." Students at many of the schools flagged by the T.E.A.'s test security firm were measured as having either unusual response patterns to test questions, an unusual number of erasure marks, a large score gain, or very similar test responses - for example, answering hard questions correctly, while missing easy questions on the TAKS last year. "You can tell that there were some school districts that had a lot more flags, so we focused our resources towards those school districts that were most likely to produce some sort of purpose of impropriety." The T.E.A.'s investigation lasted five months and included several audits and on-site visits to the campuses in question. "They were asked to describe their procedures and provide documentation they had properly administered the test, properly secured the test, properly trained the personnel, things of that nature. They were asked whether they'd seen any unusual instances." For a complete list of all the campuses cleared of cheating on the TAKS exam, go to http://www.tea.state.tx.us/