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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

One Hillsborough school, caught up in FCAT cheating suspicions, gets no grade

30

June

Among the Tampa Bay area schools we cover, one school — James Elementary in east Tampa — didn't get a letter grade on Thursday. It got an I.

The I stands for "incomplete." The incomplete is the result of an ongoing investigation into FCAT cheating at the school.

Interim Florida education commissioner John Winn said during a news conference that a number of schools received I's because of concerns over too many "erasures from incorrect to correct" to have it be by chance.

Schools in 14 counties, representing more than 7,000 students, were caught up in that review by Caveon Test Security.  Some looked to be individual student erasures, Winn said, while a second category appeared to be pervasive erasures, "indicating potential involvement of adults in the process."

"We have launched investigations into schools that have a prevalence of those," he said. "Those investigations are ongoing. That is where you see an I" in the school grade list

Hillsborough district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said the district submitted its findings on concerns at James to the state on Wednesday. Its official explanation is that the school's fifth-grade teachers told students that if they had questions on the FCAT of which they were unsure of the answer, to mark them and then go back and review if they had time.

Interviews with students and teachers revealed that was what happened, Cobbe said.

"It was a strategy," she said. "On certain questions the kids weren't sure of, they went back and changed their answers."

The district now awaits a response from the FLDOE.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:45pm]

    

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