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Schools caught cheating on standardized tests [Google+ hangout]

Times education reporter Howard Blume will join city editor Shelby Grad at 1:30 p.m. for a Google+ hangout about schools the state stripped of their Academic Performance Index ratings for cheating on standardized tests.

Some teachers may have thought they were within bounds when in fact they weren't, while others corrected answers, gave students cues with facial expressions or displayed test material in the classroom, an investigation found.

From Blume's weekend story:

State officials have stripped Westside [Elementary in Thermal] and 22 other schools of a key state ranking for cheating, other misconduct or mistakes in administering the standardized tests given last spring. The offenses ranged from failing to cover bulletin boards to more overt improprieties, including helping students correct mistakes or preparing them with actual test questions. The details were included in school district reports obtained by the Times through a public records request filed with the California Department of Education.

The state defines such episodes as "adult irregularities," and if they affect at least 5% of students tested at a school, the campus loses its annual rating on California's Academic Performance Index, which was released this month.

The API is a scale by which schools are officially measured in California. Top rankings are celebrated and contribute to high property values. Low scores can label schools as failures and trigger penalties.

The number of schools with invalidated test scores remains relatively small: about two dozen each of the last three years in a state with more than 10,000 schools.


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Photo: A student fills in his answer to the practice test question for a standardized test. Credit: Anitta C. Charlson / MCT

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