All Green Dot charter schools will implement stricter test security procedures in response to the recent disclosure of teacher cheating at one of its Los Angeles-area schools, a district official said.
Fred Navarro, superintendent of the Lennox School District, said Green Dot officials announced last week that the new policy will require all teachers at each of its schools to return testing materials to a secured room within a strict time frame after the exams are over. Representatives of the charter school firm updated Lennox school board members about the firm's investigation of cheating at Animo Leadership Charter High School. The state invalidated the school's 2010 test scores after receiving evidence of possible wrongdoing from the charter. Since 2009, budget cuts have forced California to rely on local school districts to voluntarily report instances of cheating.
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Animo is operated by Green Dot Public Schools and is overseen by Lennox. Green Dot operates nearly 20 schools nationwide.
Lennox said the new requirement is designed to curtail unauthorized changes to tests by shortening the window during which they could occur.
A science teacher is accused of changing the wrong answers on physics exams for possibly 148 of 604 students at the high school in Inglewood, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 100 charters in the nation.
Green Dot officials have not revealed the identity of the teacher. But Navarro said Green Dot told the board that the teacher has been removed from the school and is no longer employed by Green Dot. Green Dot's top executive, Marco Petruzzi, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
"That's the unfortunate thing. One employee wiped it out for everyone," Navarro said. "If you leave these tests in someone's hands too long, people get curious, and bad decisions get made."
Navarro said the board did not order an investigation into previous scores at Animo and referred questions about that to Green Dot. He stressed that he and the board were impressed with the thoroughness and speed of the charter's response.
"We have a good working relationship," Navarro said.
School testing has gained nationwide attention after news reports of widespread cheating by teachers, principals and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools system.
The cheating allegations at Animo and Short Avenue Elementary School, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, were the state's first public disclosures of cheating on standardized tests. A total of 22 California schools had their test scores thrown out this year by the state Department of Education for cheating or other testing irregularities.
Schools stripped of their test scores cannot receive any special achievement honors from the state for two years and will be recorded as failing to meet this year's state and federal progress requirements.