Missouri fails to check for standardized test cheating
"If you don't look, you don't find," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing. "You are void of embarrassment by not asking tough questions."
Missouri education officials rely on a system of self-reporting that assumes teachers and administrators will come to the state when they know of possible abuse.
Under this approach, even when allegations of testing irregularities are reported — as they were 41 times in 2011 — the state and school districts rarely engage in the kind of rigorous statistical review many say is needed.
The state has also dismantled a program due to funding reductions that had sent inspectors randomly into schools to ensure tests are administered properly.
State education officials say looking for red flags would add thousands of dollars to the testing contract at a time when the state has cut department funding.
"There is a cost to that," said Sharon Hoge, an assistant commissioner at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "We have tried to rely on self reports in our districts in Missouri. I'm not telling you that means there are not things possibly that are going on that we don't know about."
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