$500,000: Price of VAAP Cheating?

A Patrick County jury this week awarded $500K to former Stuart Elementary principal Muriel Waldron. 

As the newspaper reports, the case involves alleged false statements in Waldron’s performance evaluation.  The meat of the case, however, was Waldron’s claim that she was removed as principal because she refused to cram kids into the VAAP (a SOL alternative for students with “significant cognitive disabilities”) to boost the school’s SOL scores.

The good taxpayers of Patrick County now can look forward to the possibility of (federal?) lawsuits by the parents of the kids who might claim their children were misclassified in order to cheat on the SOLs.

We have some data that may speak to the situation.  Here are the reading and math pass rates for the Patrick County elementary schools and the state by year.  According to the paper, Ms. Waldron was removed in 2015.  Note the remarkable improvements at Stuart in 2016 and at some other schools a year earlier.

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Note: The school rates are for all grades; the state rates are averages by grade, which should be quite close to the average by students for the three grades.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that the State Department of Education Superintendent Protection has done or will do anything to prevent this kind of abuse.  For example, we know that a Superintendent who admitted to packing a different test for handicapped students in order “to assist schools in obtaining accreditation” was merely required to write a “corrective action plan.”

Your tax dollars at “work.”