When test scores soared at a low-performing District of Columbia school, the principal and teachers collected bonuses. Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus was called one of D.C.’s “shining stars” and was named a National Blue Ribbon School. But cheating may explain Noyes’ apparent turnaround, reports USA Today.
In 2006, only 10% of Noyes’ students scored “proficient” or “advanced” in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.
. . . Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes’ staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.
Noyes’ proficiency rates fell significantly in 2010.
“For the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests,” reports USA Today. “The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.”
On the 2009 reading test, the average erasure rate for D.C. seventh graders was less than one. At Noyes, seventh graders averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures. “The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance,” according to statisticians consulted by the newspaper.