Had another cheating story on the front page Saturday:
Texas officials have released the names of 241 more schools with suspicious patterns in their test scores. But none are likely to be targeted in the upcoming round of state investigations into possible cheating.
The new list, released Friday, brings the total number of schools with suspicious scores to 699. That’s almost one-tenth of all the Texas schools that administered the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in 2005.
Earlier, the Texas Education Agency had released the names of only 442 schools that had at least one classroom with suspicious scores. But Caveon – the test-security company the TEA hired to look for cheaters – also looked for schools that had suspicious score patterns schoolwide. Because of differences in the ways Caveon analyzed the scores, some schools were flagged as suspicious schoolwide without raising red flags in any specific classroom.
The TEA had not asked Caveon for the schoolwide list until The Dallas Morning News revealed its existence three weeks ago.
And my column ran today, which is probably more interesting:
Of all the layers of silliness in the No Child Left Behind law, it’s hard to come up with any more poorly thought out than the “persistently dangerous schools” clause. That’s the part of the law that is supposed to identify which schools are too scary and unsafe for kids to attend. If your school makes the list, it has to give you the chance to transfer to a safer school.
This year, five Texas schools were labeled persistently dangerous. Four are in the Valley, and I’ll admit I don’t know much about them. But the fifth one is a shocker: Cypress Ridge High School in Houston.
Cypress Ridge isn’t some gritty urban school with gangbangers roaming the halls. It’s a middle-class school in the suburbs. It’s in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, the biggest suburban district in the state. The area has a lot of new growth; Cypress Ridge was built only four years ago and already has 3,500 students. Its test scores are usually better than the state average. If you want to imagine a Dallas-area high school for context, Cypress Ridge’s demographics are comparable to Newman Smith High in Carrollton.
So how did Cypress Ridge get labeled “persistently dangerous”? Was there a serial killer on the loose in AP Chemistry? Nope. Just a few kids snagging pills from Dad’s medicine cabinet.