Possible Testing Scandal at Rye City Schools

A statement was issued by the School Superintendent’s office May 24 informing the community of the fact that Rye City School District officials are looking into possible testing improprieties at Osborn and Milton Elementary schools.

Published June 7, 2013 5:00 AM
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A statement was issued by the School Superintendent’s office May 24 informing the community of the fact that Rye City School District officials are looking into possible testing improprieties at Osborn and Milton Elementary schools.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

A statement was issued by the School Superintendent’s office May 24 informing the community of the fact that Rye City School District officials are looking into possible testing improprieties at Osborn and Milton Elementary schools.

 

More than two weeks earlier, on May 6, a parent called the District stating that a teacher may have improperly coached her child during the administration of the New York State Standardized Tests for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

 

According to an announcement from the Superintendent’s office, “As soon as this allegation was brought to the District’s attention, District officials immediately filed a report with the State Education Department and began an internal investigation on May 7. The District has since notified the Westchester County District Attorney.

 

“The ongoing investigation has led to the administrative reassignment of two elementary school teachers from Osborn School and one from Milton School. It is alleged that the teachers provided improper coaching to a small number of students during the administration of the assessments in late April.” 

 

We asked Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez whether or not the School District knows if these are isolated incidents.

 

He responded, “The School District will continue to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation in conjunction with the State Education Department to determine the extent to which these are isolated incidents. While the District is hopeful that the allegations are limited to those that have already been communicated, due diligence requires that the District first complete its investigation into this matter before speculating upon its scope.”

 

The matter was referred to the District Attorney’s office, said Dr. Alvarez, because the allegations “involve behavior that may, very strictly speaking, violate the law.”

 

Since the allegations were made, parents and other community members have asked whether additional measures need to be put in place to ensure better monitoring of test taking, such as the presence of someone who is not a class teacher. “Administrators are discussing testing protocols and whether any changes may be in order,” said Dr. Alvarez. “No changes in testing protocol have been required by SED at this time.”

 

Whether students who received inappropriate coaching will be asked to retake the tests remains in question. Dr. Alvarez commented: “The State Education Department defines the next steps with regard to the investigation. At this time it does not appear that the students will be required to retake the exams.”

 

In the wake of testing scandals across the country, it is now common practice for the tests in question to undergo “erasure analysis.” Software programs can isolate cheating by determining if there is an abnormal level of erasures.

 

We asked Dr. Alvarez whether the tests in question at Milton and Osborn would be subject to erasure analysis. He replied, “As this is an active investigation, the District is not going to comment at this time.”

 

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