New PLAN score release adds more evidence of misconduct
Who will be held accountable: Anyone?
It is absolutely vital that the integrity of testing in Kentucky is carefully maintained if this state is to reestablish a viable assessment system.
Sadly, events since last summer regarding school staffers cheating on the ACT in Perry County, which we discussed before here, here, here, and here provide a still unfinished story about whether state officials have the stomach to defend Kentucky’s testing programs from cheating.
The Hazard-Herald reports local commotion over the scandal boiled up again a few days ago in a Perry County Board of Education meeting.
And, while we will have to wait until August for new ACT scores, the release several days ago of the latest PLAN scores for the current school term adds to concerns that serious test tampering occurred last year on ACT, Incorporated tests given in Perry County’s two high schools, and the tampering wasn’t limited to the ACT. PLAN is another state-required test from the ACT, Incorporated given to all 10th grade students that is very similar to the ACT.
The table below (click on it to enlarge), extracted from an Excel spreadsheet with the new test results for all schools in the state, shows both of Perry County’s high schools experienced very large score increases on the PLAN test between 2008-09 and 2009-10, the year when the cheating allegedly occurred.
These one-year PLAN score drops between 2009-10 and 2010-11 are absolutely enormous. They are more than twice as large as any other drop in any other high school in the state.
Thus, the evidence mounts, including findings from the ACT investigation itself, that answer sheets were altered. And, ACT says the students didn’t do it. That means the only other individuals who had access to the controlled answer sheets did.
Should the school staff responsible for this get off scot free?
So far, the only individuals who have suffered because of the improper changing of answer sheet entries are the students, who had to retake the ACT.
But, the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board did receive a referral from the Kentucky Department of Education and is conducting an investigation.
Furthermore; since the ACT drives money from KEES scholarships, which impacts both taxpayers and students; and influences college admissions, which obviously impacts students; perhaps other state agencies will decide to take a look, as well.
So, stay tuned.
One critical point in all of this is that we don’t want to send a message to educators around Kentucky that if you get caught altering test sheets, others in the system will cover for you.
If that bad message gets sent, Kentucky’s new assessment system’s credibility is dead before the first test booklet ever gets printed.