Is standardized testing to blame for administrative cheating?

Ashlie Rodriguez, Reporter
POSTED: 10:12 PM MDT Mar 11, 2013    UPDATED: 11:16 AM MDT Mar 12, 2013 
EL PASO, Texas -

The possibility of grade manipulation within the Canutillo Independent School District has been confirmed by the Texas Education Agency which concluded its investigation last week.

The Texas Education Agency investigation found that during the 2010-2011 school year Murphy directed administrators, including Canutillo High Principal James Fry
- to promote 10th graders to 11th grade to avoid 10th grade accountability tests
- and foreign student transcripts were reclassified, affecting an unknown amount of high schoolers.

"There's 70,000 students missing across the 10th grade and many of those are because what happened here in our community and its happening across the state," said CISD Board President Armando Rodriguez. "The data that's being shown is that minority students are getting affected whether its African-American or Hispanic."

The are many reasons for cheating. One of them is the federal annual yearly progress standard. Not meeting AYP comes with consequences which puts pressure on everyone from students to superintendents to avoid.

"The consequences have become more intense as the years have gone by," said EPISD Teachers Assn. President Norma de la Rosa. "As you know in 2014, according to AYP and no child left behind, all students are suppose to be 100% passing which we all know is not a reality."

Since No Child Left Behind was implemented in 2001, school districts across the nation have had to meet federal standards, administrating up to 15 tests a year. De la Rosa tells me this is bad policy, but no excuse to cheat.

"The pressure is there but I don't think it's that dire that it would cause any superintendent to want to do what Garcia and Murphy have done," De la Rosa said. "I think that on the part of Murphy and Gacia its just a matter of arrogance."

Murphy resigned shortly after the investigation began in December and Rodriguez says the board has already begun its own corrective action plan to ensure grade manipulation never happens again.

"We need to have a serious dialogue of what's going on whether its state or federal requirements and we need to dicuss what is the optimal way of educating our kids," Rodriguez said.

As EPISD and Canutillo right their wrongs, addressing testing issues statewide has also begun. Earlier this month, Education commissioner of Education Michael Williams asked the U.S. Secretary of Education to waive No Child Left Behind Act be in Texas.