I earlier quoted Scott Adams for the notion that “whenever you have large stakes, an opportunity for wrong-doing, and a small risk of getting caught, wrong-doing happens. . . . When humans can cheat, they do.” That certainly is what we’ve seen wholesale in Atlanta and in Virginia on the VGLA.
Now we heve the Virginian-Pilot seeing what looks like the smoke of cheating fires: In the course of a report of attempts to learn whether failing students are being withdrawn from courses where the SOL is mandatory, the paper obtained enrollment data from all the Hampton Roads divisions except one. Norfolk said it couldn’t retrieve the data. In the face of an incoherent push back from the Norfolk Superintendent, the Pilot stood by its story.
The state’s SOL pass rate data may speak to this situation.
As a first look, here are the averages of the pass rates for the five subjects reported, expressed as the differences between the division averages and the state average.
Norfolk was on a failing path and it stumbled badly on the new (non-VGLA) reading, writing, and science tests in 2013. Then, mirabile dictu, it recovered dramatically.
Hmmm. What about the pass rates for the individual subjects?
The reading data show the hit from new tests and the subsequent recovery.
The math pass rates show the effect of the new tests in 2012 and an even more dramatic recovery.
The writing and science pass rates also show big hits from the new tests in 2013 and remarkable recoveries.
The history and social science data show a dismal pattern broken by a remarkable jump in 2015.
You get to draw your own conclusion from this. I have one I’ll share: I’ll bet you a #2 lead pencil that the State Department of Data Suppression will not look beneath all this smoke to see if there is a bonfire of cheating.