Allegations of cheating on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) have surfaced at a St. Petersburg area elementary school, marking the first time in state history a school grade has been withheld to allow for an investigation.
The state Department of Education ordered an internal probe into the matter after an unusual amount of students were providing the same wrong answers on the same questions. According to a state analysis, the likelihood of this being coincidental is less than one in one trillion.
If the investigation does reveal cheating had occurred, district officials say it would not have been enough to alter the school grade. Those at the state level insist there is no automatic assumption of foul play.
Cheating scandals are nothing new, and Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform notes that cheating “is a much more widespread problem than Atlanta or Philadelphia,” two municipal districts notoriously plagued by a culture of educator-driven cheating.
Regarding cheating scandals, Kerwin says, “it’s important that we set high expectations. The problem is with low quality educators or administrators who aren’t up to par. There are these tenure policies that keep poor performers in the classroom for a long time.”