HISD Likely Cheated on Standardized Tests, Study Says

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published a massive project studying standardized-test scores across the nation in the wake of a scandal in that city.

Their analysis showed, the paper said, "that test scores in hundreds of cities followed a pattern that, in Atlanta, indicated cheating in multiple schools."

One of the offenders highlighted: Houston. (And Dallas, too, so there's that.)

Their summary box on HISD:


Enrollment: 204,245

Eligible for free or reduced-price meals: 79 percent

AJC analysis: Since 2006, 307 classes exhibited improbable changes, compared to an expected 177. Odds: less than 1 in 1 trillion.

History: After the Dallas Morning News identified possible cheating in 2004 and 2007, the district fired numerous principals and teachers.

High stakes: In 2011, 75 percent of the district's teachers received bonuses through a pay-for-performance system.

HISD superintendent Terry Grier sent out a letter to "the HISD community" with the district's response:

I want you to know that HISD takes these allegations seriously and does not tolerate cheating. We believe that adults who participate in cheating are robbing their students of the quality education they deserve. I also want you to know that I believe in the integrity of the overwhelming majority of educators working in Houston schools.

Now, I don't know everything that happened in Atlanta. But I can tell you that in 2010 and 2011, HISD hired outside law firms to conduct aggressive investigations of possible cheating at 22 schools. These investigations resulted in nine confirmed cheating cases. Twenty-one HISD teachers were recommended for termination, did not have their contracts renewed, or decided to resign or retire as a result of these investigations. We currently have five ongoing cheating investigations.

Our testing security measures are comprehensive. Our teachers are not permitted to administer state exams to their own students. On test days, we send monitors to each campus to personally ensure that proper testing protocols are being followed. We have a telephone hotline for people to anonymously offer tips of possible cheating. On each campus, only two people have keys with access to testing material storage rooms, most of which are monitored by video camera.

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