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February 27, 2009

Charter School Testing Oversight

In a previous post, I noted that some New York City charter school leaders were surprised at the lack of controls on the administration of the state tests.  Apparently, at charter schools the tests are self-administered, i.e. there are no independent monitors. 

This week, I learned another fact that surprised me.  The written sections of the tests (as opposed to the multiple choice sections) sit in boxes at the school for a week before they are sent to be graded.  Apparently, there is an administrative reason for this delay.  Whatever the reason, I can't imagine it justifying the risk of leaving these tests with the schools for a week.  In recent school visits I have heard more stories about graders observing suspicious test booklets: unusual erasures and corrections, changing handwriting, and sudden gaps in the level of writing. 

Improving this situation seems like low-hanging fruit: send independent monitors and have them remove the tests from the school on test day.  What am I missing?


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