Questions, investigations of suspicious test scores

Are students at some schools in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Florida and California suddenly making vast and unprecedented leaps in learning? Or at least in how they are performing on standardized tests?

Perhaps, but it’s not statistically likely, according to a USA Today investigation, supported in part by The Hechinger Report. The lengthy story has already led to at least one review, by the Michigan Department of Education, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press found improvements at 34 schools statewide so suspicious they raised questions from the department and from the state House Education Committee, which may call for hearings on how Michigan investigates cheating on its elementary and middle-school exams, along with high-school merit exams.

USA Today, according to its series, “used a methodology widely recognized by mathematicians, psychometricians and testing companies. It compared year-to-year changes in test scores and singled out grades within schools for which gains were 3 standard deviations or more from the average statewide gain on that test. In layman’s language, that means the students in that grade showed greater improvement than 99.9% of their classmates statewide. ”

Watch for installments to come.