Beacon Hill Test Scandal; More Details

The Times has a fairly in-depth story about the Beacon Hill cheating incident.

In most cases, it appears someone changed answers from wrong to right on the 20 to 25 multiple-choice questions that make up part of the reading and math exams.

But on question No. 3 of the third-grade reading section, the pattern was just the reverse.

Four of every five responses on that item were erased and changed to the wrong answer — a bizarre blip in what otherwise looked like an across-the-board attempt to help students get more answers right.

Very odd. Did someone get tired? Mixed-up?

It was not the state’s first erasure analysis, but it was the biggest and the first ever done schoolwide, said Nathan Olson, spokesman for the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

On some multiple-choice questions, more than half of the 220 students’ answers were erased and replaced with the correct response.

Typically, students erase and change answers on 1 to 2 percent of test questions, said James Wollack, associate professor of education psychology at the University of Wisconsin.

As previously reported, the district found and reported this when they started looking at schools' scores.

In fifth-grade math, the passing rate was a perfect 100 percent.

In an internal memo in late August, officials said the chances of that happening naturally were virtually zero.

“This degree of improvement is almost never seen, and it’s nearly impossible for limited English students to be 99% proficient at grade level reading,” wrote Eric Anderson, the district’s director of research, evaluation and assessment. Many students at Beacon Hill, where the population is 40 percent Latino, 30 percent Asian and 15 percent Caucasian, do not speak English as their first language.

Director Blanford, whose daughter was a 5th grader at Beacon Hill last year, had this to say:

But if the case isn’t about cheating, it’s hard to imagine what the motive might be, said Stephan Blanford, a School Board member whose daughter was in fifth grade at Beacon Hill last year.

“There are a lot of questions that are unanswered and a lot of emotion associated with it,” Blanford said. “Baffled is a good way of putting it, but also just a huge amount of disappointment.”

He said he is waiting for the district's own investigation. That will be interesting as the school reported that five people had keys to this storage area while the custodian says it was upwards of nine (and he should know - he's responsible for the master key list). As well, my sources tell me that despite this question of "key, key, who's got the key?" that the investigator didn't even ask this question until prompted.

Lastly, principals get bonuses based on school test scores. If the Beacon Hill principal at the time got a bonus, the district should take it back. It does not mean the principal had anything to do with the scores but the scores are invalid.


Anonymous said…

Who was principal when scores were changed, Kelly Aramaki or his replacement? Sorry, I can't keep up with the principal churn. I'm only familiar with Aramaki from when he principal of Maywood Hills in Bothell.

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