MCAS test irregularities were reported this week at several Massachusetts schools, including the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in Boston’s North End. At the Eliot, an unusually high number of answers were erased and changed from incorrect to correct on the important standardized test, according to a report by WCVB TV5 Investigates.
The State concluded it “was unable to determine the cause” of the unusually high rate of erasure marks on some answers, said Rich Weir, Communications Director for Boston Public Schools in response to an inquiry from NorthEndWaterfront.com. The multi-year review was completed in November 2015 and questioned 2014 MCAS results “for a small group of students at the Eliot,” according to Weir.
The MCAS test scores in question were subsequently invalidated after being reviewed by the State. The Eliot School is often hailed for its high MCAS test scores, used as a key measure to gauge school quality.
The pressure on schools to increase MCAS scores is highlighted in the WCVB report. In one case, a 14 year old student from Hanson Middle School committed suicide after his answers were questioned and called an “embarrassment” by school officials. “Teachers or proctors have changed answers in answer books or have directed students to change answers,” said Jeff Wulfson, deputy commissioner at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in response to the report. A planned move to electronic testing will make it more difficult for schools to inappropriately influence MCAS test answers.
11/4/2016 update: This post was modified to reflect Boston Public Schools response with details of the review dates and that the State was unable to determine the cause of the unusually high rate of erasure marks. For that reason, the word “cheating” was also changed to “irregularities.”