Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)–The battle over whether certain Baltimore City schools cheated on their standardized tests in 2009 is far from over. School officials will now hire an outside company to investigate the allegations.
Derek Valcourt explains the move is drawing sharp criticism.
It’s controversial in part because school reputations are at stake, jobs are on the line and it will cost a lot of money.
When little kids filled out those standardized tests at Abbottson Elementary in 2009, they had no idea their results would still be in question three years later.
Now Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso has hired the Caveon Test Security Company to investigate thousands of tests at Abbottson and at other schools for evidence that school administrators there cheated by changing children’s answers.
“Part of what happened over time is that we saw variances that were not explainable and what we’re trying to do now is bring somebody in and move it faster,” Alonso said.
That review will cost the city more than a quarter of a million dollars.
Union officials representing school principals call it an outrageous waste of money.
“That’s all this is, a blatant witchhunt to soothe the CEO’s ego,” said Jimmy Gittings.
Union president Jimmy Gittings says after lengthy legal battles, independent reviews found no evidence of cheating. He says Alonso simply can’t admit he was wrong to fire Abbottson’s principal and assistant principal.
“And now he is going to buy a victory by spending close to $300,000 for a company to come in and give him a verdict that he wants. This is ludicrous,” Gittings said.
“It’s not going to go away because they’re calling me names. It’s only going to go away when we can say without a shadow of a doubt that everyone is clean,” Alonso said.
Alonso says new testing reforms have eliminated cheating. He spent the afternoon handing out medals to students at Medfield Heights Elementary, which has had the highest MSA test scores in the city three years in a row.
School officials insist the independent review is all about ensuring the integrity of the tests. Caveon Test Security has investigated cheating in Atlanta and Washington schools. There’s no word on when their review will be completed.
City schools have already spent nearly half a million dollars over the last two years putting independent test monitors in schools.