SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is continuing its investigation on the tampering of MCAS scores at the Dryden School in Springfield.
Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester announced last week, the state is invalidating 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students MCAS scores from 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The Education Department found widespread “erasures of students’ responses to multiple choice questions” that replaced incorrect answers with correct answers.
Chester also said in a letter to Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick, there were disparities between students’ performance on multiple-choice questions and open-response questions. However, Chester told Warwick, there’s no evidence that students cheated on the test.
In a statement to 22News, Warwick said “We have little information at this point. It has been an independent investigation initiated and carried out solely by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). At this point, we are waiting for DESE to complete its investigation and render a final report.”
Parents of 344 students impacted by the investigation have been notified. Students do not have to retake the test.
Below is the Superintendent’s statement regarding the Dryden School MCAS Invalidations:
Superintendent of Schools Daniel J. Warwick has expressed great disappointment in the MCAS invalidation of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who took the test at Mary A. Dryden Veterans Memorial School in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“We have little information at this point,” Warwick said, “It has been an independent investigation initiated and carried out solely by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). At this point, we are waiting for DESE to complete its investigation and render a final report.”
Warwick said DESE makes no allegation of cheating by Dryden’s student but they have cited the high number of erasures made by test takers, disparities in students’ performance on multiple choice questions compared to their performance on open-response questions, and large increases in student achievement as the basis for their decision.
Warwick said DESE made the decision to investigate the tests based on Dryden students’ high rates of achievement on the MCAS test. The school and districted have heralded Dryden’s scores as among the highest in the state. However, DESE deemed the erasures and other evidence to be a “testing irregularity” and invalidated the scores based on that finding.
Warwick said he informed parents of the 344 impacted students in a letter dated August 11, 2014. “It was one of the most difficult letters I’ve ever had to write,” he said, adding that the district fully cooperated with DESE requests for information during the investigation, which is still ongoing.
“We are always concerned with ensuring that our strict testing protocols are observed,” he said.
Springfield now becomes one of at least four districts statewide to have MCAS scores invalidated by DESE for “testing irregularities.” Other districts include Fall River, Boston and Worcester.