Atlanta Journal-Constitution infers schools nationwide may be cheating on state assessments

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Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) took a huge swipe at the credibility of public school educators all across the nation.

Based on its own research of state testing results from all 50 states and somewhere between 69,000 to 70,000 individual public schools, the newspaper has identified 200 school districts across the nation where the pattern of scores on state tests allegedly resembles the pattern of scores in the Atlanta school system.

That’s an ominous situation. In Atlanta, widespread test cheating was actually confirmed. Consequences are now being levied. Teachers have been fired, and the superintendent was shown the door, as well.

While I am still trying to figure out exactly how the paper conducted its analysis, the AJC on line database includes dozens of Kentucky schools and districts in its listing of unusual test score results.

I’m not going to list any of those school systems at this time, however, as I have reservations about the AJC methodology and assumptions. You can look up schools and districts on the AJC potential cheaters radar scope for yourself here.

Stay tuned on this one.

Due to the amazing breadth of the findings – with many states involved – I am sure educators and researchers all around the nation are going to be examining both the methodology used by the newspaper and the schools and districts that popped up with unusual and statistically highly unlikely test score histories.

Still, without question the AJC has thrown down a huge gauntlet in front of educators around the nation. And, it is troubling that the newspaper says the analysis it used for its new nationwide study is similar to the one used in 2009 that pointed to the now-confirmed cheating scandal in Atlanta.

So, I suspect the ‘fight’s on’ as they say in the fighter pilot world.

The ‘next round’ is going to be fired at ajc.com on Tuesday at 11:00 AM, when a live chat will take place. The web might get loaded down by all of the interested parties who are likely to log in.

Comments

  1. Steve White says:

    Look up imply/infer. You used it wrong and that makes me not want to read your blog.

  2. Steve, a couple of points.

    First, we are human at the Bluegrass Institute and might occasionally make a mistake in our writing, though I think our standards here are a lot better than most areas of the blogosphere.

    Furthermore, if you stop reading everyone because of an occasional error, you are going to deprive yourself of a lot of information.

    All of that said, in this case the word you question is not misused. You need to look at all the definitions under a word to fully understand its meaning.

    My copy of the “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus” says infer means “to derive a conclusion from facts or premises.” It also can mean to “guess or surmise” or “to lead to a conclusion or consequence.” It can additionally mean “to convey indirectly and by allusion rather than explicitly.”

    My copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus goes further, listing “infer” as a suitable substitute word for “imply” (under section 544.4).

    So, your challenge about my word usage does not hold up.

    By the way, both my blog and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution itself make it clear that the available evidence is not conclusive concerning cheating, but the testing patterns the newspaper found across the nation definitely bear a disturbing relationship to historical patterns of test scores from Atlanta that were definitely related to actual cheating.

    One more point: we already know here in Kentucky that cheating on the ACT college entrance test did occur in the Perry County Central High School recently. While ACT data was not included in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s research, the point is that cheating isn’t unique to Georgia. It has happened right here in Kentucky. You may not like that — I certainly don’t, but you can’t ignore the facts, either, by quibbling over a supposed language issue.

    In any event, I hope you don’t cut yourself off from our blog. You’ll only be hurting yourself. But, please do let us know if you think we made a mistake. As I said, on occasion, we do, and we welcome correction when that happens.

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