The Hechinger Report, USA TODAY and several other news outlets partnered to investigate the standardized test scores of millions of students in six states and the District of Columbia. The investigation identified 1,610 examples of statistically rare, perhaps suspect, gains on state tests.



Test

Most states don’t routinely scrutinize test erasures

By Marisol Bello and Greg Toppo, USA TODAY Fewer than half the states routinely analyze suspicious numbers of erasures on standardized school tests, a key method of detecting cheating by teachers or their bosses. Erasure analysis launched a Georgia investigation that uncovered widespread cheating in Atlanta schools and has triggered probes in Washington, D.C., and […]

"The integrity of test scores is perhaps more important to us than any other district because we use the test scores in important ways," says Interim Chancellor of D.C. schools Kaya Henderson. (Photo by By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

D.C. to dig deeper on test score irregularities

The acting head of Washington, D.C.’s public schools requested Tuesday that the district’s inspector general review investigations of eight schools that were flagged in 2009 for irregularities in their standardized tests.

Kathleen Mathers oversees investigations of cheating in Georgia schools. (Photo by By Ben Gray, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

In Georgia, test-answer erasures triggered criminal probe

The same kind of high erasure rates that have been reported on standardized tests in Washington, D.C., schools also spurred intensive investigations by state and federal authorities in Georgia during the past two years. The tactics used in Georgia are sharply different, however, from those employed in Washington: Georgia is conducting a criminal investigation that could lead to prosecutions.

Marvin Tucker raised questions about high test scores of daughter Marlana, right, now 16, that showed math proficiency despite her struggle with the basics when she attended D.C.'s Noyes. (Photo by Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?

WASHINGTON — In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its “shining stars.” Marvin Tucker raised questions about high test scores of daughter Marlana, right, now 16, that showed math proficiency despite her struggle with the basics when she attended D.C.’s Noyes.

Investigators found "clear, statistical evidence" of cheating on state tests at George Washington Elementary, a Blue Ribbon School, in Baltimore. (Photo by By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY)

The search for a new way to test kids

By all accounts, George Washington Elementary School is the very model of a modern urban public school. Investigators found “clear, statistical evidence” of cheating on state tests at George Washington Elementary, a Blue Ribbon School, in Baltimore.

George Washington Carver Academy Principal Celestine Sanders peeks in a classroom. The Highland Park, Mich., charter school overhauled staff and policies after a 2008 cheating case. (Photo by By Andre J. Jackson, Detroit Free Press)

For teachers, many ways and reasons to cheat on tests

In 2008, teacher assistant Johanna Munoz helped her Orlando-area fourth-graders on the state achievement test. According to investigative documents obtained by USA TODAY, Munoz erased wrong answers and whispered corrections while she was helping non-native English speakers with difficult words. She snapped her fingers in a code students understood to mean they should correct an answer.

Second-grade teacher Eileen Seawood supervises a writing assignment at George Washington Carver Academy last week. (Photo by By Andre J. Jackson, Detroit Free Press)

After cheating scandal, school learns lessons in taking tests

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. — The teachers and principal at George Washington Carver Academy, a charter school here, have learned firsthand what happens when an official probe concludes that the staff cheated on a standardized test. Monitors sent by the Michigan Department of Education have watched over teachers here for the past two years as state tests have been administered. As a group, teachers have been forced to review, line by line, all of the state’s testing rules.

Detroit Free Press: Michigan to review suspect school test scores

The Michigan Department of Education said Monday it has launched a review of MEAP test scores after an analysis by the Free Press found improvements at 34 schools statewide last year that experts say are statistically improbable and should be investigated for cheating.

Charles Seipelt Elementary School's gains and losses are typical of a pattern uncovered by a USA TODAY investigation of the standardized tests of millions of students in six states and the District of Columbia. (Photo by By Amanda Davidson, Cincinnati Enquirer)

When test scores are too good to be true

MILFORD, Ohio — Scott Mueller seemed to have an uncanny sense about what his students should study to prepare for upcoming state skills tests. By 2010, the teacher had spent his 16-year career entirely at Charles Seipelt Elementary School. Like other Seipelt teachers, Mueller regularly wrote study guides for his classes ahead of state tests. […]