Bryant School District responds to report on “suspicious” test scores study

The Bryant School District has released the following statement
regarding a March 25, 2012 article published in[more] the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Earlier this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the findings of a study
conducted by three of its reporters and two database specialists. This study analyzed
data from approximately 69,000 schools in over 14,743 districts across the nation in an
effort to identify districts in which suspicious test scores could possibly be indicative of
cheating on standardized tests.

According to the AJC, the researchers were looking for cases in which test scores either
increased or decreased “outside the norm” from one year to the next. If over 5% of a
district’s classes were flagged for “unusually high or low performance relative to their
performance in the previous year”, that district is considered suspicious. Of the districts
analyzed, approximately 200 districts across the country were considered suspect.

Arkansas media outlets are reporting that 21 Arkansas schools were among those 200
districts, including the Bryant School District. While this is unfortunate, it is important to
remember the AJC itself states that the study in no way proves cheating, it simply points
out what the researchers consider extraordinary changes in scores. Moreover, the
entire validity of this study is being highly criticized nationwide, as it does not take into
account factors such as student mobility or teacher effectiveness and its methodology
tends to implicate only larger districts.

Fortunately, it is no secret that test scores across our district have improved from one
year to the next for many years now, as is required by No Child Left Behind legislation.
We know this to be the result of hard work and excellent teaching on behalf of our
students, teachers, and principals – not cheating. It is a shame that their successful
efforts are being investigated instead of celebrated.

The Bryant School District would like to reassure our parents and community of the
integrity of our staff. Meticulous testing policies and procedures ensure that all state
testing materials are kept secure, and all personnel who administer these tests are well
trained in test security.

In addition, all allegations of testing violations or breaches in procedure are thoroughly
investigated. If confirmed, appropriate disciplinary action is taken, up to and including

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