State Department of Education reviewing SCS for potential TCAP cheating

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MEMPHIS -- The State Department of Education confirmed to WREG it has audited Shelby County Schools for signs of potential cheating on the 2013-2014 TCAP exams.

It all had to do with students changing their TCAP answers from wrong ones to right ones.

The state said two schools in SCS met criteria for a second look.

"We have to be real intentional on what we're really saying, because are we saying that we don't want children to make mistakes, and if you do, your school district may very well be punished for that?" School Board Member Stephanie Love said.

Love explained how students were encouraged to check their answers.

"The investigation is open, so we're cooperating, and we'll wait to see what the results yield," said SCS School Board Chairwoman Teresa Jones.

The state explained the analysis it ran to look for potential cheating.

"Erasure analysis means we are analyzing the percent of students that changed their answers. Specifically, we are looking at answers changed from wrong to right."

This model looked for outliers.

Even if the state were to find evidence of cheating, the state said this kind of flag did not necessarily reflective of a wider issue going on in the district.

Alcy Elementary and LaRose Elementary met the criteria for further review.

"Last time I checked, we did our own work. So, I mean, as far as cheating, we never grew up on that," said Martaivious Stephenson, who is a graduate of Alcy Elementary.

He said this could all be a misunderstanding and have nothing to do with cheating.

SCS seemed to agree.

"We did not find anything indicating that testing had been handled inappropriately. The state department is also conducting its own investigation, and we are still awaiting those results," said a SCS spokesperson in a statement.

SCS said this kind of audit focused on cases of small groups of students, which the state called testing groups.

Four testing groups in the whole state required another look across three counties.

The state said the testing groups in question were in Williamson, Shelby, and Robertson County.

The state completed the review of Williamson County and found no evidence of cheating.

SCS said it trained all test coordinators on security measures to prevent cheating.

School Board Member Mike Kernell said he thinks it is good that the state is watchful of the possibility of cheating.

However, he expressed concern that the changing of answers could shame students with disabilities who have more teacher/student intervention on tests.

The State Department of Education said it expects the remaining audits to be completed in the next several weeks.

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