Analysis: GCPS testing process working

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A statewide analysis of standardized test scores revealed one Gwinnett County school fell into a category of minimal concern for the number of erasures on students' tests.

On Wednesday, the Governor's Office of Student Achievement released the results of a spring 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests erasure analysis. The analysis focused on the number of wrong answers that had been changed to right answers on individual student answer sheets in reading, English/language arts and mathematics, according to a news release.

GOSA partnered with CTB-McGraw Hill, the state's testing vendor in charge of developing and scoring CRCT exams, to conduct a comprehensive examination of all statewide CRCT answer documents from grades 1 through 8.

"The analysis looked on average at 125,000 test takers in every subject and grade level at which the CRCT was administered and provided a clear picture of typical student test behavior against which all schools could be compared," GOSA Executive Director Kathleen Mathers said. "Our recommendations are intended to eliminate future problems and help students who have been adversely affected by test tampering."

In the analysis, CTB psychometricians scanned answer documents to identify local erasures per classroom, flagging those classrooms in which the number of wrong-to-right changes proved to be three standard deviations or more above the state average, the news release states. Less than 0.15 percent of test takers would be expected to fall in that range naturally.

Based on the analysis, schools were placed in varying categories according to their percentage of flagged classrooms. Nesbit Elementary was the only Gwinnett school where the number of flagged classrooms was above the threshold for the "Clear" category. With 6.6 percent of classrooms flagged, Nesbit Elementary fell into the "Minimal Concern" category, in which 6 to 10 percent of classes were flagged. Ten percent of the state's elementary and middle schools were in this category.

"This analysis shows very clearly that we have good assessment practices in place throughout Gwinnett County Public Schools," spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. "It also indicates that our teachers and schools do an excellent job in terms of proctoring tests and monitoring the test environment. As a district, we will analyze the data from this report further to see what, if any, additional steps we can take to improve our processes."

All schools in Buford and Barrow, as well as Ivy Preparatory Academy, were in the "Clear" category, which means less than 6 percent of classes were flagged. Eighty percent of Georgia's elementary and middle schools fell into this category.

Other categories in the analysis were "Moderate Concern," with 11 to 24 percent of classes flagged, and "Severe Concern," with at least 25 percent of classes flagged for wrong-to-right changes.

The CRCT is a standardized assessment given to students in grades 1 to 8 in Georgia. The test is designed to measure how well students at each grade level have learned the state's curriculum. CRCT results are used to determine whether schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress as required by No Child Left Behind.