South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Middle school MAP tests invalidated after cheating alleged by employee

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education last week declared invalid the Missouri Assessment Program test scores of 75 Washington Middle School pupils after a district investigation uncovered that an employee allegedly cheated on the standardized tests.

The situation will not impact Mehlville’s districtwide performance on the Missouri School Improvement Program so it won’t hurt the district’s accreditation process, according to Walter Brown, DESE director of student assessment.

Pupils did nothing wrong, Mehlville School/Community Relations Director Patrick Wallace told the Call. Instead, a district employee inappropriately administered the tests, he said.

Wallace would not say what specifically happened or if the employee was still with the district, but he did say the misconduct was an isolated incident.

“We are convinced after the investigations, as is DESE, that this is an isolated incident,” Wallace said, though he didn’t know if the entire district had been investigated or just Washington Middle School.

DESE could drop those 75 tests to a score of zero or erase the results all together. While he wasn’t sure how DESE would score the tests, Brown assured Mehlville’s accreditation is safe.

“This will not count in the accreditation process for Mehlville,” Brown told the Call. “They will not be used in the Annual Performance Report.”

A district employee notified Mehlville administrators two weeks ago that another employee had cheated on the tests, according to Wallace, so the district began its own investigation and immediately notified DESE.

Brown said the state will not levy any sanctions on the district.

“You just lost 75 kids that may have had a positive impact on your test scores. That’s penalty enough for them,” he said. “Mehlville did a nice job of handling this thing internally.”

Mehlville received 73 points on its 2004 Annual Performance Report issued by DESE, a drop of 27 points from the perfect score of 100 it earned the past two years. The department issues an APR for each school district in the state, detailing how each district met Missouri School Im-provement Plan performance measures and MAP standards.

As a result of its 73 score, Mehlville did not earn DESE’s prestigious Distinction in Performance Award that it had received the past two years. To qualify for the award, districts must meet 11 of 12 MSIP performance standards, which include MAP test scores, ACT test scores, advanced course offerings, college placement, vocational placement, dropout rate and attendance rate.

The Mehlville School District did not meet standards in three areas based on tests administered last spring — MAP grades six through eight and the reading index in grade three and grade seven. Not meeting the standards in the three areas cost the district 27 points on its 2004 APR as compared to the previous two years.

District administrators late last year un-veiled a plan to counter the 27-point drop.

The plan is designed to effect change in the organization this year to raise MAP scores now and to lay the groundwork for the next two to three years for systemic change in the organization to continually raise MAP scores annually.

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