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State Board Accepts CRCT Audit Findings

 Media Contact:   - GaDOE: Dana Tofig, (404) 463-1487,  dtofig@gadoe.org   - GOSA: Mallie McCord, (404) 463-1150,  mmccord@gov.state.ga.us        July 9, 2009  -- The State Board of Education today accepted the findings of an external audit that the 2008 summer retest results at four Georgia elementary schools were changed and, therefore, are invalid.     The State Board’s unanimous vote directs the Georgia Department of Education to invalidate the 5th Grade summer retest results on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) for the following schools: Deerwood Academy, Atlanta Public Schools; Atherton Elementary, DeKalb County Schools; Parklane Elementary, Fulton County Schools; Burroughs-Molette Elementary, Glynn County.     The action was taken after an audit by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) found that student answer sheets on the fifth-grade mathematics CRCT were changed after the tests were completed but before the forms were sent in for grading. (For more information on the investigation, go to the  Governor's Office of Student Achievement's website )     State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said the action of the Board shows how seriously the state takes the integrity of Georgia’s standardized testing process.     “The Board and I want to send a clear message that cheating will not be tolerated and we will take action, if necessary,” Superintendent Cox said. “Ultimately, the ones who are hurt by cheating are the students.”  However, Superintendent Cox emphasized that the overwhelming majority of schools administer state tests honestly and in full compliance with state and federal law.     “The vast majority of educators are highly ethical and deeply concerned with following the rules,” she said. “While any cheating is cause for concern, I am confident it is not a widespread issue and that we have a valid, trustworthy testing program in Georgia.”     By accepting the findings of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s audit, the State Board empowered the GaDOE to take the following actions:     1. Invalidate the 2008 CRCT 5th Grade retest scores at the four schools;     2. Since the four schools involved only made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) due to these retest results, the 2008 AYP determinations for these schools will be changed to “did not meet;”     3. Begin the process of recovering any money these schools received as rewards for academic achievement under the Title I Distinguished Schools program;     4. Require the school systems to notify parents of students whose test scores were altered     5.Request that the middle schools these students now attend implement an individualized support plan for affected students who continue to struggle with mathematics. The GOSA audit found that less than half of the affected students passed the math CRCT this past year in sixth grade.     The Georgia Department of Education has a process for addressing concerns about test security and allegations of cheating and will continue to work closely with the GOSA on the identification and investigation of statistical “outliers.” The GaDOE will also continue to train educators and administrators on the proper way to administer state tests.     Additionally, the Georgia Department of Education will look at ways, within existing budget resources, to broaden its process for flagging schools that show statistically improbable gains.