WRAL Investigates

NC schools report 58 testing problems since 2007

Posted March 2, 2011 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2011 7:21 p.m. EST

WRAL Investigates

— When two teachers resigned from Clayton High School in February for giving students review sheets for their end-of-course history test, it reminded Kevin and Barb Kocher of the questions they had at their son's school last year.

“He specifically said on the math test that the answers were pointed to,” Kevin Kocher said.

The couple’s son, Paul Kocher, has Down Syndrome and tested at grade level in seventh grade math – the first time that ever happened – even though the teacher said he hadn't mastered some basic skills, such as making change.

The principal investigated and said there was no wrongdoing. However, other cases have had much different outcomes. North Carolina school systems have investigated 58 cases since 2007.

Most were minor problems with how instructions were given, but there were 10 more serious cases where teachers provided significant help, such as pointing to an answer or patting a student on the back if they were right.

Many of those cases ended with a teacher suspended, either with or without pay.

In 2005, at Sallie B. Howard Charter School in Wilson, a test coordinator admitted to changing answers for students. In 2008, a principal was reassigned from Knightdale Elementary School after testing irregularities.

The numbers show that problems are rare, but the numbers also show that complaints are often reported from within schools.

Lou Fabrizio, the chief testing director for the state Department of Public Instruction, said the majority of the cases are reported by school administrators, however “there have been cases where because of students, we found out something improper happened.”

Many parents, like the Kochers, don't realize they can report problems directly to the state Department of Public Instruction, as well as their child’s school.

“We’ve had fantastic teachers and principals. This has been the only issue that has ever raised concerns with us,” said Kevin Kocher.

The Kocher's said their son gets more time on his test and has fewer multiple choice answers to choose from, but he's still tested on the same material.