Ga. finds fewer erased test answers

LAWRENCEVILLE — State monitors helped reduce the number of wrong answers that were erased and replaced on standardized tests in Georgia school districts after reports of possible cheating sparked widespread public concern, according to a review of 2010 test results announced Wednesday.

This is the second year that the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has taken a comprehensive look at Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, which are part of how state officials measure whether schools have met federal education benchmarks. In 2009, officials were alarmed at results that showed possible cheating on the CRCT at about 20 percent of Georgia’s elementary and middle schools.

That report led to increased scrutiny of teachers, especially in the Atlanta area, where erasures were most prevalent. On Wednesday, Kathleen Mathers painted a brighter picture for the state Board of Education in announcing this year’s findings.

Mathers said less than 4 percent of schools fell under the moderate to severe categories of concern this year, compared to 10 percent last year. Tests clear of concern rose from 80 percent to 87 percent. In Atlanta, the number of schools of severe concern plummeted from 43 to three.

‘‘That is significantly better,’’ Mathers said. ‘‘The data speaks for itself. The ‘severe’ category has all but disappeared from Atlanta.’’

In Gwinnett County Public Schools, only six schools were flagged with minimal concern — Dacula Middle, Kanoheda Elementary, Knight Elementary, Lawrenceville Elementary, Peachtree Elementary and Rockbridge Elementary. In Barrow County, two schools were flagged with minimal concern — Westside Middle and Yargo Elementary.

All other schools in Gwinnett and Barrow counties, as well as schools in Buford and Loganville, were clear of concern.