ST. LOUIS - Just a year ago, results on state tests for reading
and math showed Herzog elementary school students outperforming
their peers at other schools in the St. Louis district.
Those passing rates on tests plummeted this year, according to
data made public this week by state education officials. The likely
factor: a crackdown on cheating.
The school was one of at least three where administrators
investigated cheating allegations in 2011. Following the inquiries,
two employees at Herzog are no longer with the district.
Superintendent Kelvin Adams stepped up efforts to ensure the
results were valid during testing in the spring, hiring an oversight
coordinator for those schools, as well as placing a member of the
district accountability staff at the schools each day during
testing. It came at a time when the school district was under
intense pressure to perform, and fighting for reaccreditation.
Adams said problems in 2011 are not indicative of the entire
"I don't think you can identify the whole district as having a
quote-unquote cheating problem when it was targeted at a couple of
schools," he said.
He said the district went the extra mile to weed out problems by
adding the test monitors and "checking almost everything."
"I think it says to the community that the results, the progress,
were accurate, 99.9 percent of the time," he said. "Were there
issues in a couple of schools? I'll be the first to tell you yes."
Those issues appear to have had bearing on the test results at
Herzog and at least one other school.
According to data from the Missouri Assessment Program tests, the
portion of students scoring proficient or advanced in math at Herzog
dropped from 43 percent in 2011 to about 8 percent this year. In
communications arts, the pass rate fell from 47 percent to less than
Two other schools also had reports of potential test fraud in
2011 - Patrick Henry Downtown Academy and Ford Elementary School.
Investigators have dismissed reports of cheating at Patrick Henry
and Ford as claims made by "disgruntled" employees.
But the 2012 results also show severe declines at Ford
Elementary, where scores went from 38 percent passing in
communications arts to 10 percent; math scores went from 40 percent
passing to 14 percent.
The number of students passing at Patrick Henry in communication
arts and math had less dramatic changes - from about 16 percent to
12 percent in communication arts and from about 12 percent to 13
percent in math.
Overall, the results of the latest round of testing were good for
the unaccredited district - it gained an academic point in its
annual performance report released on Monday. That could position
the district for provisional accreditation, but the final decision
is up to the state.
The school district gained its accreditation point for results on
Algebra I end-of-course exams. Adams pointed out that the 2011
cheating allegations occurred at elementary schools.
To investigate test fraud, Missouri relies exclusively on a self-
reporting system that asks teachers and administrators to flag
In St. Louis, such reports in 2011 ultimately led investigators
to recommend that Martine McGull, Herzog's teaching learning
facilitator, be removed and that reading specialist Laronda Johns-
Campbell not participate in school testing for one year. …