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Independent Test Security Investigators Release 2011 DC CAS Report

Friday, June 22, 2012
58 classrooms cleared of impropriety; cheating confirmed in two DCPS classrooms

An independent investigation into the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) administered in 2011 confirmed cheating in two classrooms in two DC Public Schools. The investigation, conducted by Alvarez and Marsal LLC, also cleared 58 of 60 investigated classrooms of any impropriety, according to a report released today by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

“I am pleased that this investigation is complete and that the vast majority of our schools were cleared of any wrongdoing,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “Where corrective actions are needed, we will act swiftly to maintain the integrity of our test security protocols and ensure that the data we collect from the DC CAS accurately reflect student performance.”   

Instances of cheating were confirmed in two classrooms at two different schools. Student test scores in those classrooms have been invalidated. DCPS is pursuing personnel action for implicated employees.  

OSSE hired Alvarez and Marsal LLC in March to conduct investigations into DCPS and DC Public Charter School classrooms that were flagged by OSSE for unusual testing results, including wrong-to-right erasures, score variation within classrooms, and unusual student gains from 2010-2011.

DCPS supplemented the OSSE analysis by flagging an additional 36 classrooms in 14 DCPS schools, leading to a total of 60 DCPS classrooms in 30 DCPS schools to be investigated. This total resulted in a robust investigation pool, representing 25 percent of DCPS schools and 5 percent of DCPS tested classrooms.

Alvarez and Marsal reviewed testing security protocols and documents, and conducted hundreds of interviews of students, instructors, test proctors, school staff, administrators and others related to the administration of the DC CAS in DCPS and public charter schools.

Investigation results were categorized as “Critical” (serious test security violation, such as evident of test tampering), “Moderate” (defined violations, but not test tampering), and “Minor” (test procedure implementation errors).

In one “Critical” classroom where cheating occurred, the test administrator pointed to correct answers on a student test sheet during the exam. In the other “Critical” classroom, the test administrator provided assistance to students.

“Moderate” cases included non-reported incidents; failure to distribute or collect state test security agreements; refusal to sign state test security agreements; and use of unapproved electronic devices (cell phones, for example). Seven DCPS schools were categorized as Moderate. “Minor” cases included incomplete or missing testing binders, or lapses in securing test materials. Eight DCPS schools were categorized as Minor. And, 13 DCPS schools were cleared of any error, wrongdoing, or violations.  

At the end of April, students concluded the 2012 DC CAS. Cate Swinburn, chief of the DCPS Office of Data and Accountability, said precautions were taken during administration of the 2012 DC CAS, from April 17-27, to ensure that additional monitoring was in place at DC Public Schools that were flagged for test integrity concerns related to the 2011 DC CAS.

“Ensuring that our standardized tests are administered with the highest level of integrity is critically important to DC Public Schools,” Swinburn said. “DCPS has reassessed and strengthened our testing protocols and put systems in place to ensure the highest level of testing integrity across the board. This includes policies and procedures for testing administration as well as methods for flagging results for follow-up investigations.”

For more information, please read the DCPS findings and the response memo »

Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz | 202-535-1096