It was was low profile for some time, but WDRB has now resurfaced a story about a potential cheating scandal at Louisville’s Male High School.
“Eight seniors at Louisville Male High School say they were helped by a school official – or witnessed the official helping their peers – on a standardized test that measures whether students are ready for college.”
WDRB’s article continues with some of the TV station’s own investigative reporting interviews with students and others. That reporting that makes it clear an investigation is clearly warranted and certainly points to a high likelihood that improper activities did occur at Male. Now, both the Kentucky Department of Education and the ACT, Inc., which developed and administered the COMPASS tests in question, are investigating.
The consequences could be dramatic.
Not only would cheating lead to consequences for those involved directly, but the school’s overall College and Career Readiness Rate in the state’s Unbridled Learning accountability program would also be impacted. That would reduce the overall accountability numbers for the school.
One more point: this is the second major issue to surface with COMPASS in the past few months. I wrote earlier (here, here and here) about an issue where students using certain smart calculators could compromise the accuracy of the overall COMPASS math score. That issue could impact many schools across Kentucky. However, so far there has been no public discussion about the exact amount of such impacts on the true College and Career Readiness rates. I hope the Kentucky Board of Education addresses the situation in a transparent way shortly.
By the way, I did a little estimate of what could happen to Male’s College and Career Readiness if the COMPASS cheating occurred. Click the “Read more” link to see that.
There isn’t enough data available to the public to precisely gauge the impact of COMPASS cheating on Male’s scores, but I can do a little rough estimating.
Data in the PDF versions of the school report cards for Male from the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years (obtained with pull-down menus on line here) show only 67.6 percent of Male’s 11th grade students tested at or above the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s Reading Benchmark Score in 2011-12 (with no bonus included). That works out to 259 college ready students based on the ACT out of the 383 students who were in the 11th grade in Male that year. Those students became the graduating class of 2012-13, of course.
Thus, I don’t think the school could have more than 259 of 2012-13 graduates found overall “College Ready” due to their ACT scores. In fact, some of those graduates who met the ACT Reading target might not have met the target for English or Math; so, the overall number of students who were College Ready based on their ACT results could be even lower. But, let’s stick with the 259 student figure for sake of argument.
The 2012-13 School Report Card for Male shows on Page 14 that 377 students graduated that year and a total of 325 were college ready based on getting an acceptable set of scores on either the ACT, the COMPASS or another college readiness test called KYOTE.
Since we know Male is using COMPASS, I will assume they don’t bother with KYOTE (of course, if they did also use KYOTE, can we be sure they didn’t cheat on that, as well?).
So, I’ll estimate that 325 minus 259, or 66 Male 2012-13 graduates used COMPASS, not ACT, to demonstrate their college readiness.
If the scores for all of those 66 students are invalidated, instead of Male having 325 divided by 377 or 86.2 percent of its students college ready, only 259 divided by 377 or 68.7 percent would have been fully college ready. That’s well above the statewide average but it’s not a very high readiness rate for Louisville’s most, or second most selective magnet public high school.
If you are into rankings, the difference would mean Male’s reported third-from-the-top College and Career Readiness Rate would drop to a tie for 28th place with East Carter County High School and Hopkins County Central High School. Those are not magnet schools, to my knowledge.
In closing, a lot of things can impact my very crude estimate. We’ll have to wait for Kentucky and the ACT, Inc. to complete their investigations and provide us with more accurate information. Assuming the charges are confirmed, this presents a lesson to Male’s students that no decent Kentuckian wants taught. Assuming even some of the Male students’ comments are validated, it is a credit to those students for coming forth and exposing the improper actions of adults charged with their education.
When the dust settles, it may well be that the students should be the teachers.