An in depth study from an Atlanta newspaper reveals trouble at school districts across the country, including right here in our area. The Atlanta Journal Constitution took a look at test results over a four-year span from 69,000 schools in 49 states. That translates to more than 3,100 school districts. Out of all those school districts, the study found 200 districts with a high degree of what it calls suspicious results.
The study compared test scores from one year to the next and noted districts with extreme high or low performances. The newspaper identified warning signs in several major urban districts including Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston. On average, a school district may have about 5% of its classes showing extreme swings in test performances year to year. This study noted districts that doubled that number. For 2011, in our area, six school districts made the list. That includes the troubled North Forest School district at more than 28%. Fort Bend ISD followed with around 12.5%. The largest school district, Houston ISD, had just over 11%. Pearland and Alvin ISDs tallied up around 10.5% and Tomball had 10%.
It is important to note that the numbers are not evidence of cheating, but merely patterns that send up a warning flag. Critics of standardized testing argue that schools are under too much pressure to get results. Others insist cheating is a moral choice.