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D.C. Update: Allegedly False Test Scores Used for Value-Added Calculations

Student test scores from 100 District of Columbia public schools still under investigation for cheating were used in value-added calculations that were incorporated into some teachers' evaluations this year, according to DCPS spokesperson Fred Lewis. More than 200 D.C. teachers were terminated last week on the basis of their evaluation results.

Only when "instances of cheating were confirmed" were affected student scores removed from the value-added model, Lewis told us in an e-mail.

So in how many schools has cheating been confirmed? "There was only that one case that was determined to be a test security violation," said Lewis, "and that resulted in the termination of a teacher."

If a teacher was deemed ineffective due to declining scores, yet believes his or her students' scores from previous years were falsely high, Lewis said he or she does have recourse:

"Anyone who earns an Ineffective or Minimally Effective rating can appeal his/her score to the chancellor, including teachers with value-added scores. An independent review committee will review the evidence, and the chancellor will make all final appeal decisions."

When asked whether there was any chance the appeal decision could be made before the 2011-2012 school year begins, Lewis said:

"No, unfortunately, the appeals decisions will not be made before the beginning of the year. While this would be ideal, the window to file an appeal must be at least 30 days, which is after the first day of school. We also want to make sure we have all necessary evidence in order to ensure the process is comprehensive and fair. We do not want to rush."

So far, one teacher with a value-added score has appealed, he said. (Only teachers in tested grades and subject areas receive a value-added score.)

It's important to keep in mind that of the 206 teachers who were dismissed based on their performance, only a very small number will both have had a value-added score incorporated into their evaluation and have taught students from classrooms that allegedly cheated. Even so, D.C. could be facing more appeals—and if cheating is confirmed in more schools, it will be interesting to see if any of these teachers get their jobs back.

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