District officials said Friday that teachers and administrators in three classrooms cheated on 2011 standardized tests, in some cases telling students the correct answers to boost their scores.
A teacher and another school employee have been fired, sources told The Washington Examiner, while another two teachers are likely to be fired soon.
At Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Congress Heights, two students reported that a teacher pointed out the right answers on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests. In the same classroom, a third student said the proctor read questions aloud, raising his or her voice to signal the correct answer.
In a classroom at Langdon Education Campus, two students said the test administrator provided assistance to them and other students on the year-end exams.
A teacher at Northeast's Hyde Leadership Public Charter School told students when they had answers questions incorrectly.
The scores in all three classrooms have been invalidated. Both the teacher and test proctor at Hyde have been fired, D.C. Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson told The Washington Examiner.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said she is pursuing disciplinary action against two teachers, one at Langdon and one at King, who "will not be teaching our students in the future."
"They are being referred for personnel action which will likely end in termination," spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said in an email.
State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley said that the investigation of the 2011 testing also revealed a possible incident at Raymond Education Campus, another DCPS school, and is following up. Another public charter school was flagged but not investigated because the school closed this year.
The District's public schools have been in the hot seat since a USA Today investigation found that students at one DCPS campus had a better chance of winning the Powerball lottery than of changing so many wrong answers to the right ones. The U.S. Department of Education and the D.C. inspector general are conducting another investigation of the concerns raised in the article.
In D.C. Public Schools, teacher evaluations are based up to 50 percent off their students' achievement on these standardized tests, with some criticizing these evaluations as rewarding teachers for cheating.
But the number of classrooms with confirmed cheating cases has been small. The three "critical violations" described above -- out of 5,089 classrooms tested -- meant that 5,086 classrooms were cleared of cheating.
"Widespread cheating was not found," Mahaley said.
Another nine schools had "moderate violations" unrelated to test tampering, such as cell phone use that did not involve the exams.
A total of 70 schools -- 10 charters and 60 from D.C. Public Schools -- were investigated in 2011 by an independent auditor hired by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, which oversees both the traditional school system and the charters. They were chosen because parents, teachers or principals identified possible violations, or because OSSE noticed irregularities in the scores.
The test results were analyzed and flagged when answer sheets showed an unusual number of wrong answers erased and corrected; when students in a classroom tended to get similiar scores; and when students made dramatic gains over the 2010 test administration.