10.01.2008 0

Education Fraud Rocks South Carolina

  • On: 10/22/2008 14:38:27
  • In: School Choice

  • With the state’s average SAT scores dropping in the public school system of South Carolina over the past few years, and touting the nation’s worst graduation rate, educators have been forced to take on a considerable challenge to improve that system.

    One might think that would require better oversight, offering merit-pay incentives for good teachers, curricula adjustments, etc. Instead, it looks like one school principal came up with a “better” idea: fudge the numbers.

    As reported by the Charleston Post and Courier:

    “Sanders-Clyde Elementary, a school lauded for its success in educating low-income students, saw a precipitous drop in its test scores this year, raising questions about a former principal who led the school’s transformation and casting doubts on the school’s true progress during the past five years…

    “MiShawna Moore became the school’s principal in 2003. She tailored lessons for students, helped their parents pay bills, washed students’ clothes and opened the school building on weekends. The school’s test scores began to rise.

    “By 2007, the school outscored state and district averages, far exceeding the progress of schools with students from similar backgrounds. Educators hailed Moore as a model for other principals, the community showered her school with praise, and federal and state awards went to the school in recognition of its achievement. Moore was so successful that she was asked to lead a second downtown school, Fraser Elementary, to duplicate her accomplishments.

    “This year, the school’s PACT results fell sharply in every subject and at every grade level.

    “This was the first time that the school district monitored the school’s testing. District officials took tests away from the school each night and put monitors in classrooms daily. Janet Rose, the district’s executive director of assessment and accountability, told The Post and Courier in May that the extra scrutiny would validate the school’s scores.

    “A few weeks after the tests this spring, in a move that surprised parents and officials, Moore announced that she was leaving Charleston County. Moore refused to do any media interviews at that time, and she now works as an assistant superintendent in Halifax County, N.C., schools. Phone messages and an e-mail to Moore were not returned Tuesday.

    “The results

    “Sanders-Clyde’s scores this year are far lower than its scores from the past few years. Last year, in most subjects, 80 to 90-plus percent of its students were at least minimally prepared for the next grade, according to PACT results. This year, about half of students were unprepared for the next grade in most subjects.

    “Last year, 96 percent of its third-grade students scored at or above their grade level in math. This year, 47 percent scored at or above their grade level.

    “A typical one-year fluctuation in a small school might be 10 percentage points, the average at Sanders-Clyde was 31. The biggest drop was 49.”

    It appears that the only factor that changed between the past few years and this year was that the state actually monitored the administration of tests at the school, raising serious doubts that the students were improving.

    This is an outrage to the people of South Carolina, and it is getting a lot of pick-up on the internet. Here is part of FitsNews.com’s take:

    “We wrote yesterday about South Carolina’s test administrators “fudging numbers” with respect to counting students as “proficient” who only scored “basic” on statewide assessments, but we had no idea things were this bad.

    “Or this corrupt.

    “Worse still, it appears that the State Department was willing to turn a blind eye to the ‘number-fudging’ until Courrégé became aware of the situation, at least.

    “Look, people. South Carolina’s SAT scores for public schools are falling, our graduation rate is the nation’s worst and yet according to S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, our students are riding a “wave of progress” based on the results of these state-administered exams.

    “We’re just guessing, but it’s probably easy to ride a ‘wave of progress’ when teachers are giving kids the answers (or worse still, fixing their mistakes before the tests are submitted for grading).”

    Simply outrageous.

    The story was broken by journalist Diette Courrégé, who discovered that students who were scoring well at the school district were performing terribly upon transferring to other school districts, again from FitsNews.com:

    “After receiving reports that “something fishy” was going on in MiShawna Moore’s schools, Charleston Post and Courier education reporter Diette Courrégé started doing some digging.

    “Specifically, Courrégé began looking into reports that “proficient” students who transferred from Sanders-Clyde elementary were performing far at far lower levels that their test scores would indicate.

    “In fact, some students who had been rated proficient in reading showed up at other schools unable to read. In many other cases, kids who scored advanced (which is higher than proficient) in English and math were struggling not to fail those same subjects at different schools.

    “Shortly after Courrégé began her investigation this spring, principal MiShawna Moore abruptly resigned from her Charleston positions and took a job with a North Carolina school district.”

    Not only are the taxpayers being cheated by their public system by Ms. Moore, but importantly the students are being robbed of a good education, all in the name of making the failing system look better.

    To think that some folks are actually mystified that parents would want to send their kids to a private school. It is no wonder: They can no longer trust the product that is being produced in public schools, and Ms. Moore’s fraud affirms that mistrust.

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