Signs of cheating, such as test scores that go up sharply one year and crash the next, can be found in nearly 200 large school districts nationwide, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.
As Atlanta learned after cheating was uncovered in half its elementary and middle schools last year, falsified test results deny struggling students access to extra help to which they are entitled, and erode confidence in a vital public institution.
. . . In nine districts, scores careened so unpredictably that the odds of such dramatic shifts occurring without an intervention such as tampering were worse than one in 10 billion.In Houston, for instance, test results for entire grades of students jumped two, three or more times the amount expected in one year, the analysis shows. When children moved to a new grade the next year, their scores plummeted — a finding that suggests the gains were not due to learning.
In 33 districts, the odds the tests results were valid were worse than one in a million.