Mastery Test scores under scrutiny after wrong answers changed - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Mastery Test scores under scrutiny after wrong answers changed

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Investigators said someone inside a Hartford elementary school was tampering with test scores in order to meet state education goals.

The accusations are focusing around the Betances Early Reading Lab and the Connecticut Mastery Tests.

Officials with the state Department of Education said someone inside the school was changing the answers on last year's Mastery Test.

The state flagged a number of test booklets and brought in investigators from the outside after seeing a high number of irregularities, specifically a large number of wrong answers erased to make them correct.

In one case, investigators said one student's test booklet has 22 erasures, and all of them went from wrong answers to correct ones.

Another booklet had 28 wrong answers erased and 26 of them were then changed to make them correct.

Investigators said it would be nearly impossible for students, who were described by their teachers as typically struggling and unable to focus, to even have enough time to change all the answers.

"It's inappropriate anywhere in society," said Stefan Pryor, who is the Commissioner of Education for the State of Connecticut. "But, unfortunately, on rare occasion in schools, professionals do cheat and tamper."

In fact, investigators said one student emphatically denied changing the answers, with that student saying how neatly they filled in their original answers. But in that student's booklet, the answers were sloppy and outside the answer bubble.

The student said there was "no way" he or she make the markings.

In a statement, the Hartford superintendent said "Unfortunately the district has not had an opportunity to conduct its own investigation because the state decided not to share the information and other evidence with the district."

Pryor said Hartford Public Schools will have to conduct its own internal investigation.

As part of their contract, Hartford teachers can receive a $2,500 bonus if test scores go up a certain amount. However, there are also consequences for low scores. If a school fails to meet annual yearly progress for five years, a whole new staff is brought in and the educational program is changed.

The staff at Betances School can not administer state tests next year, which means they have to bring in people to do it.

Parents told Eyewitness News they were upset about the incident.

"It's now fair and its not proper because I want my child to get a proper education," said Lamar McKnight of Hartford.

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