The elementary schools are Glen Haven in Decatur and Shadow Rock and Stoneview in Lithonia. The middle schools are DeKalb Path Academy Charter in Atlanta, Cedar Grove in Ellenwood and DeKalb Truancy in Clarkston.
State officials say the high incidents of erasures could indicate cheating by students, teachers or administrators and have asked the district to investigate.
Dale Davis, the school district’s spokesman, said Thursday that the school system would obey.
“We’re going to comply,” Davis said. “We’re going to conduct a thorough investigation and we’ll be able to speak more definitively once the investigation has been conducted and concluded.”
The DeKalb schools are among hundreds of Georgia schools identified in a statewide analysis of erasure marks on student answer sheets on the 2009 spring test by testing contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and CTB/McGraw-Hill said the unusually high numbers of erasures could indicate tampering.
DeKalb Schools had the second-highest number of flagged schools, behind Atlanta Public Schools, which has 58 of the 191 schools under investigation.
The state Board of Education heard a presentation of the findings on Feb. 10.
The news of possible test cheating in DeKalb County Schools comes nearly two months after former Atherton Elementary School Principal James Berry was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for his role in changing more than 32 fifth-graders’ test answers on the CRCT retest in June 2008. His former assistant principal, Doretha Alexander, who also was charged in the case, was sentenced to 40 hours of community service at a local food bank. Both administrators were accused of changing the fifth-graders’ answers on the CRCT mathematics retake test.
Berry admitted to cheating and resigned. Alexander was reassigned but has since left the school system, Davis said Tuesday.
The changed answers helped the school meet No Child Left Behind standards.
The state’s CRCT screens students in grades one to eight for proficiency in reading, English-language arts and mathematics. The test also is used to determine whether schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress as required by the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act.
The analysis examined 125,000 test sheets in every subject and grade level.
Kathleen Mathers, director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, said their recommendations are intended to eliminate future problems and help students who have been adversely affected by test tampering.
During the analysis, the company looked for high numbers of wrong answers that were erased and changed to right answers and highlighted classrooms where the number of changed answers per student diverged greatly from the state average.
While 80 percent of the state’s elementary and middle schools raised no concerns, 18 percent of the tests raised “minimal” to “moderate” concern, and 4 percent, including the six DeKalb schools, fell into the “severe concern” category because up to 25 percent or more of their classes had high incidents of erasures.
At Shadow Rock, 40 percent of classes were flagged; at Glen Haven, 44.9 percent. At Stoneview, 48.1 percent were flagged; at DeKalb Path Academy Charter, 25 percent. At Cedar Grove Middle, 35 percent were flagged, and at DeKalb Truancy, 66.7 percent.
State officials said they would need more information to pinpoint what caused the high number of erasures but offered several scenarios.
“Various activities may take place, such as a student copying from another student’s paper, students receiving inappropriate assistance before or during testing, or students’ responses altered after testing,” CTB/McGraw-Hill officials said.
Mathers said test tampering could play a factor in the high number of erasures on students’ answer sheets. “If it is determined that someone tampered with student test documents and students were adversely affected by that, then we’re certainly going to take appropriate steps to make sure that those students are helped,” Mathers told Atlanta media.
In a unanimous vote on Feb. 12, the Georgia School Board ordered investigations of the 191 Georgia schools facing questions of tampering on the tests.
Results of those investigations are due back to the state between April 1 and the end of the school year. Officials could accept those results or investigate further.
The board also required extra precaution to be taken during the spring CRCT test in April.
State testing monitors will be sent to each of the 74 “severe” schools, including all six DeKalb schools. The schools will have to randomly rotate teachers to different classrooms during testing, and teachers won’t be allowed to be proctors for their own students.
While there are no laws in Georgia making it unlawful to tamper with state tests or help others cheat on them, DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming successfully charged Berry and Alexander with tampering with a state document in connection with the Atherton cheating scandal.
Lawmakers are now considering a bill to make it unlawful for administrators and school employees to tamper with tests.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the state’s reporting and accountability agency for education, will continue to analyze other state tests including the End of Course and Georgia High School Graduation tests. The agency also will examine graduation and dropout rates and other factors that determine student achievement.