Caveon President John Fremer told USA TODAY that his firm did not do its own data analysis. It asked teachers what they knew about erasures but not whether cheating had taken place.
Eva Baker of UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards & Student Testing, says the contract seems to have tied the hands of Caveon investigators. “As a contractor, you’re often just stuck with the scope of work that someone wants you to do,” she says. “The choice is doing nothing or doing what they want you to do.”
Gregory Cizek, a University of North Carolina testing expert who advises several states — including Georgia — on testing issues, says it’s “exactly the wrong procedure” to limit such inquiries. “The districts invariably say, ‘Well, our students got smarter.’ Or they say, ‘We can’t explain.’ “
A simple way to tell whether anyone has tampered with test answer sheets, Cizek says, is to compare a student’s correct answers to previous class work in the same subject. If kids who recently showed poor performance in math answer a lot of difficult test items correctly, it suggests tampering.
Portions of many tests require students to answer in short sentences. Cizek says that if the quality of writing doesn’t match the skill level displayed by multiple-choice answers, that’s another red flag.
Comparing tests against class work
Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, says investigators should also match student performance across single tests. Kids are generally consistent, Fuller says: In reading, for instance, a student who does well on one section will generally do well on the next. “They don’t fail reading comprehension and suddenly ace the vocabulary section.”
I don’t trust the DC OIG or Caveon to do this investigation. It needs to be done at the Federal level by the FBI.