Two Local Schools Under Fire After FCAT Score Investigation

By: Associated Press; Mike Springer; Kara Duffyy Email
By: Associated Press; Mike Springer; Kara Duffyy Email

Jefferson County, Florida-August 17, 2012

Jefferson Elementary School is under fire after an investigation into FCAT score showed an unusual number of erasures on last year's test.

A Florida Department of Education investigation found the problem at several schools across the state.

At Jefferson Elementary School it was the 5th grade reading test that was being questioned.

According to the official report by the DOE, there were over 560 changes made and 80% of those were wrong-to-right answers.

The report released Aug. 16 details testimony from school officials, proctors, fifth grade teachers, as well as some students.

Investigators say during the time of testing, multiple people had access to the key to where test materials were kept, so they were unable to determine an exact cause of the erasures.

Parents say they feel uneasy about the allegations.

"It's very frustrating. I have a grandson and I don't want to see him in the school system here," said Lawrence.

Michelle Foskey's daughter attended Jefferson Elementary last year for kindergarten. She said, "It's not just cheating the state by changing grades. It's cheating the child itself."

Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, Bill Brumfield, did not want to comment on camera, but he did say that they have made some changes since the investigation.

One of those changes is that now, following testing each day, he personally picks up the exams and stores them in a county office that only he has the key to.


Gadsden County, Florida- August 17, 2012

When it comes to Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test, more commonly known as the FCATs, Gadsden County schools usually score among some of the state's best. But an investigation by the Florida Department of Education is calling into question the results at Greensboro Elementary School.

"Outside of this isolated, incident, everything we've done has been based on the hard work of students, teachers and parents," says Greensboro Elementary School principal, Stephen Pitts.

The 16-page report released Friday, August 17, says D.O.E investigators found an usually high number of erased answers on the 4th and 5th grade science test given to students at Greensboro.

Among the allegations, the report claims 510 of 560 answers students changed on the test, were changed to the right answer.

Investigators also accuse two fifth grade teachers, Annette Walker and Tunisia Hairston of 'coaching' students by telling them to look over specific questions again.

"No impropriety on tests of any kind, be they district or state assessment, will be accepted," says Shaia Beckwith, spokeswoman for the Gadsden County Public Schools.

The school district threw out the questionable results immediately. It barred both teachers from administrating anymore district or state-wide tests.

Both Walker and Hairston declined to talk to D.O.E investigators about the allegations.

But school officials say they spoke to both Walker and Hairston about what happened. But school officials declined to go into specifics about what was said. Both women are still teaching at the school.

Even with the questionable test results thrown out, Gadsden County Schools still received an 'A' on its 2011 FCATs.

While Gadsden County's 2012 FCAT score dropped to a 'B', school officials attribute the drop in scores to the test becoming more rigorous and the D.O.E changing the way it scores the tests.

D.O.E also investigated Charter School of Excellence in Broward County, Chaffee Trail Elementary in Duval County and Jefferson Elementary in Jefferson County for possible improprieties.


Tallahassee, Florida- August 17, 2012- Noon

Two local schools are under fire after an investigation into FCAT scores. A Florida Department of Education investigation turned up an unusual number of erasures on last year's test at several schools across the state.

Eyewitness News was over at Greensboro Elementary where DOE investigators say they found an unusually high number of erasures on some of the FCAT tests submitted by the school. The report goes on to say investigators believe teachers at Greensboro may have either coached or interviewed with the students. However, according to a report released today, evidence does not show that they altered student responses at any of these schools in question.

There's no word yet on if Gadsden school officials will face penalties for allegedly coaching students on the test.

We're waiting to here back from state education officials later this afternoon.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - August 17, 2012

State officials say an investigation failed to turn up causes for a high number of erasures on last year's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test at four schools.

A report released Friday by the Department of Education says investigators did find teachers at Greensboro Elementary School in rural Gadsden County coached or interfered with student responses on the 2011 FCAT.

But evidence did not indicate they altered students' responses at any of the schools.

The department's inspector general's office also investigated high numbers of erasures at the Charter School of Excellence in Broward County, Chaffee Trail Elementary in Duval County and Jefferson Elementary in Jefferson County.

The investigation was launched after a sophisticated analysis used for the first time found an extraordinary number of erasures at several schools.

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