NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Schools' Test Scores Altered

April 8, 1999

In what is believed to be the first indictment of its kind in the nation, the district attorney in Austin, Texas, has brought charges against the city's school district for manipulating statewide assessment tests scores. Alterations were made in student scores to create a more favorable image of the district's public schools, according to authorities.

  • In two separate 16-count indictments, a grand jury charged that the district and a deputy superintendent were involved in altering government records -- which could result in a $160,000 fine to the district, and a year in jail and a $4,000 fine to the official.
  • The indictments say that changes were made in identification numbers of results from the spring 1998 Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test.
  • Correcting the manipulations resulted in two elementary schools dropping from acceptable to low -- while another dropped to a mid-level rank of acceptable from a top rank of exemplary.

Problems have occurred in other Texas school districts, although no charges have been brought. A teacher in the Houston Independent School District was fired after being accused of using an answer key to correct student forms, and two principals were reprimanded for not making the tests more secure. In the neighboring Fort Bend School District, a principal and teacher resigned in the midst of a test-tampering investigation.

Public school apologists blame the incidents of pressure school officials and teachers feel to increase their performances.

Source: Barbara Whitaker, "Prosecutor Says Indictment of Austin Schools Will Help Deter Test Tampering," New York Times, April 8, 1999.


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