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NCLB Outrages

Uniondale Math Results Voided as Cheating Is Cited


By Ford Fessenden

THE State Department of Education has found evidence of cheating on standardized math tests in Uniondale schools, and it has taken the unusual step of invalidating the 2006 results from math tests in Grades 3 through 8, as well as Regents examinations for math in high school.

The Education Department said it found âa number of significant discrepanciesâ in the results, without elaborating. But it ordered new security measures for administering the tests that indicate the discrepancies involve a suspicion of tampering by administrators or teachers.

The Uniondale superintendent, William K. Lloyd, did not return calls last week, but the school board president, Raymond R. Rhoden, said the district had conducted its own investigation and ordered ârigorousâ new security measures for the tests, with two people supervising the handling of materials and signature sign-offs at numerous points in the process. In addition, the state has ordered that someone from outside the district oversee the new measures.

A spokesman for Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said the matter had been referred to his office, which is conducting a criminal investigation. Mr. Rhoden said that the board was cooperating with Mr. Cuomo and that no action would be taken against employees until the attorney general has finished. âWe would like to see that sooner rather than later because we need to rebuild the integrity of the district,â Mr. Rhoden said.

He said the discrepancies âshould not invalidate the good progress that has been madeâ on test scores in the district. If a few individuals did something wrong, he said, âwe will root it out ruthlessly.â

The district, which became aware of the state investigation in January, put new security measures in place for the administration of mathematics and English tests for Grades 3 through 8 this spring. Scores on the math test in most Uniondale schools fell sharply from 2006. Scores on English tests were mixed compared with last year, with some schoolsâ declining and some increasing.

Last year, an investigation by the state and the City of Yonkers found patterns of erasures on test papers in that district indicating that teachers or administrators corrected wrong answers in some schools. Scores in those schools, and many others in Yonkers, fell sharply after new security measures were installed for 2007.

The Education Department ordered the Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services to oversee administration of tests in Uniondale for the next two years. Scoring of the tests is to take place at the boardâs office, the state said.

In Uniondale, scores on the Regents tests in Math A and Math B were invalidated for school and district purposes but will remain on studentsâ records. All district schools will be considered to have failed to make adequate progress based on accountability standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law and could be subject to sanctions.

With the exception of Uniondale, scores on state math tests improved markedly in most grades and in most schools statewide and on Long Island. Over all, 87 percent of students in Nassau schools met the math standard in Grades 3 through 8, up from 82 percent last year and the highest average in the state. Suffolk was fourth in the state, with 82 percent meeting standards, up from 76 percent in 2006.

âThis yearâs improvement in every grade is something to celebrate,â the state education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, said. âThe fact that children are achieving higher standards in the middle grades is especially significant.â

The percentage of students meeting standards in the eighth grade increased over last year at 91 of 137 middle schools on the Island. Performance on the third-grade test improved in 247 of 366 schools.

The number of students meeting standards rose strongly in some mostly minority schools. The number of eighth graders meeting standards rose 28 points to 38 percent at Roosevelt Middle School. West Middle School in Brentwood and Westbury Middle School also showed substantial improvement in the testing.

Middle schools in Southampton, Hampton Bays, West Islip and Wantagh saw the biggest declines in eighth grade, all dropping more than 10 percentage points.

— Ford Fessenden
New York Times
2007-06-24


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