Pupils changed incorrect test answers

July 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM

PHILADELPHIA, July 25 (UPI) -- A fourth of seventh- and eighth-graders at a Philadelphia school had statistically suspicious changed answers on a state test, a report found.

Several teachers at Roosevelt Middle School told The Philadelphia Inquirer they had seen intentional violations of rules while pupils took the test in the past few years, the newspaper reported. Among other violations, the teachers said they had witnessed answers being written on blackboards and pupils getting forbidden assistance.

The newly surfaced report, conducted by state-appointed investigators from Data Recognition Corp. of Minnesota, had been completed in 2009 but sat on a shelf in the state Education Department for two years, the Inquirer said.

Ronald Tomalis, the new state education secretary, asked districts where possible improprieties had been reported on 2009 tests to investigate and report to him. He also ordered similar analyses of 2010 and 2011 state tests.

In 2009, the Inquirer found 19 Roosevelt pupils had changed answers from incorrect to correct nine out of 10 times.

The school's scores shot up 52 points in math and 51 in reading on a 100-point scale that year, by far the best of any comparable school in the district.

The school district defended its test security as "robust," noting training on administering the tests and random visits to schools.

Stefanie Ressler, who had been Roosevelt's principal during the testing, did not respond to the Inquirer's questions about the school's improvement, which she had described last year as a "miracle."

Ressler has been reassigned to a bigger school with better student performance.

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