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District rescinded passing grades on suspicious Clearwater High test scores

The Pinellas County School District uncovered a pattern of suspicious changes to test scores of struggling students enrolled in computer-based credit recovery courses at Clearwater High School late last year.

The testing irregularities — the subject of a WFTS-Ch. 28 report that aired Friday night — included cases of a teacher or teachers changing failing scores to passing scores on tests that allow students to recoup lost credit.

But school administrators found no evidence that any of the altered test scores made it far enough through the district's grading system to boost a student's chances of graduating, district spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said.

In its report Friday, WFTS cited internal district documents that show one student failed a test, earning 26 of 100 possible points. That student's grade was then changed to an 80, the lowest possible passing score.

Wolf said similar tests were uncovered and considered suspicious during a district review in spring 2015. She said the number of students whose grades were affected was not immediately available Friday.

Lax oversight of the computer system at the school level made it difficult for the district to learn much more about the changes, Wolf said. She said multiple teachers at Clearwater High were accessing the system using the same login information.

Schools now require teachers to use unique login information when accessing GradPoint, the system of computer courses students use to make up lost class credit.

Wolf said school officials first raised concerns after a number of students at Clearwater High had their grades dismissed based on irregularities caught by staff. The findings of the district's internal investigation came months before superintendent Mike Grego and other top administrators touted progress on the school system's graduation rate.

Clearwater High's graduation rate for all students climbed from 73 percent to 87 percent between spring 2011 and spring 2015.

Data reporter Nathaniel Lash contributed to this report.

District rescinded passing grades on suspicious Clearwater High test scores 02/26/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2016 9:55pm]
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