The more I've read about the Caveon study to see whether there were schools that cheated on the TAKS test, the odder the whole debacle is. First off, TEA contracts with Caveon to do the study. Caveon, when they finish, back in July, redacts the price of the study and also tells TEA, "Oh, you want to know how we came to our conclusions about the schools that cheated? You'll have to cough up money for a new contract, then!". Was it that TEA was merely going through an exercise where they didn't really want to KNOW about the schools that cheated, just reassure the public? The Texas Ed blog seems to think so- they commented about an article in September in which TEA said they wanted to severe ties with Caveon BECAUSE the results generated negative publicity for the state- to which the blog says, basically, Yeah, so, what did they expect??
But here's what I wonder. If the Caveon report was only a statistical analysis and TEA didn't sign a contract to find out exactly why those particular schools were flagged( ie, the methodology used to determine cheater schools) then how can they know for sure whether those schools are cleared?
An investigation into possible cheating on state standardized tests has cleared 592 schools with no evidence of wrongdoing, Texas Education Agency officials announced Thursday.
An analysis earlier this year flagged 700 schools as having irregularities during the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills 2005 testing period.
The agency's Task Force on Test Integrity concluded security audits and some onsite investigations found no evidence that 592 schools had violated the state's test security system. Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley agreed to close investigations into those schools.
Cases are still open for 105 schools that were flagged for potential problems. Three others schools questioned have since closed.
I can't find that TEA re-contracted with Caveon, so it looks like the expensive Caveon study has nothing to do with the in-house investigations TEA did. How much more money did THAT cost?
After the report was released in June, the TEA asked districts to conduct in-house investigations. But in August, the new Commissioner's Task Force on Test Integrity told districts to complete a six-page questionnaire. Task force members visited some schools. Investigations of the remaining cases will continue after the holidays.
The Denton R-C talked about this more in July.
When he saw that six Richardson schools were on the state's list of potential TAKS cheaters, Superintendent Jim Nelson wanted to investigate. But to do so, he needed to know how Caveon – the company that built the list – did its work.
He e-mailed state Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley, whose agency paid Caveon to do the analysis: "Commissioner, how do I get detailed information as to how Caveon reached their conclusions? All we got were the conclusions."
He added, according to documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News : "Anger and frustration aimed at the agency is palpable. I want to help, but we must have access to their analysis." Without those details, the Texas Education Agency is doing "nothing more than a hit and run," he said.
Neeley and the TEA actually didn't intend for all this to happen
TEA officials say they never wanted the findings from the $500,000 Caveon analysis to lead to large-scale investigations. The agency expected the analysis to be the first part of a multiyear study that might improve test security down the line.
So. It sure looks to me like we flushed $500,000 down the toilet for the Caveon study, and then who knows how much for the additional studies; studies which really don't answer the Caveon implications, because TEA doesn't know WHY Caveon flagged those schools as cheating. It's all a bunch of BS, eh?