TAMPA — It's official: James Elementary School's 5th graders did not cheat on their reading FCAT.
The percentage of tests with a lot of erasure marks was not high enough to indicate a schoolwide issue, according to the Florida Department of Education.
And state officials were satisfied that the Hillsborough school district investigation turned up no improprieties.
The state had flagged some schools for irregular patterns in their answers to Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, resulting in a report card grade of "I," for incomplete, for the east Tampa school.
District officials said students at James were coached to move ahead when reading difficult passages were especially difficult, complete the easier portions of the test, and then return to the hard ones so they did not run out of time. In many cases, their first answers to those hard questions were guesses.
A new grade will be calculated during an appeals period this month, said DOE spokeswoman Cheryl Etters.