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Are Local School Districts Cheating on the CSAP?

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‘Tis the season of the CSAP, or Colorado Student Assessment Program, and faculty and administrators around the state have worked hard to prepare their students—after all, the teachers have more to lose than the kids (Fort Collins Coloradoan). In fact, it’s questionable whether the tests are an accurate measurement of achievement. USA Today is the latest organization to investigate such exams, finding 1,600 examples of public schools in several states, including Colorado, claiming gains that are statistically rare, “perhaps suspect.”

For instance, third graders at Aragon Elementary School in the Fountain-Fort Carson School District placed in the 31st percentile on the state math exam in 2005: “A year later, Aragon’s fourth-graders achieved at the 97th percentile in math, showing greater improvement than any other group of students in the state. The next year, Aragon fifth-graders dropped to the 47th percentile in math.” EdNews Colorado digs into the newspaper’s data, finding 69 similar examples around the state, 29 percent of which are in the Denver Public Schools district. DPS officials don’t conduct systemic analysis of scores (such as USA Today’s) to root out any cheating, but they do investigate incidents brought to their attention.

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