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NAEP Cheating in Atlanta 'Extremely Unlikely,' NCES Says

In the face of the widespread cheating that was discovered on state tests in Atlanta, top federal officials are defending NAEP results in that school district.

The exploration of NAEP results in Atlanta came here in Washington today at the quarterly meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the national test known as "the nation's report card." Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers and analyzes NAEP, reported the results of an NCES analysis of the possibility that NAEP scores in Atlanta could have been manipulated.

The bottom line: Buckley told the board that it is "extremely unlikely" that cheating or any other kind of score manipulation occurred in Atlanta on the NAEP tests. His Power Point presentation is clear and straightforward, and completely captures his walk-through of all the theories of cheating—included one mentioned in EdWeek—and how NAEP protocols protected against such possibilities, so I won't repeat them all here.

But an interesting thing happened after Buckley concluded his remarks. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who initiated the state probe that uncovered the Atlanta cheating, was here at the meeting in his role as a NAGB board member. In brief comments, he suggested none too subtly that his investigators had reason to wonder about the validity of NAEP results in Atlanta.

He didn't provide details, saying only this: "Jack [Buckley] seems to be persuaded that the checks and balances are in there, [but] we had some evidence to the contrary." Perdue added: "If you all are comfortable with the processes of sampling, which I believe is the biggest risk there, then it's all well and good." Buckley said he would welcome any additional information, and Perdue responded that he was certain state investigators would be happy to share that with him. And they left it at that.

It will be interesting to see if anything more comes of this.

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