A three-year state investigation has discovered a high percentage of erasure marks on standardized tests at some New Jersey public schools, raising the possibility of cheating to boost scores.
The Asbury Park Press and New Jersey Press Media Group successfully sued to get the reports from the state Department of Education. The test erasure reports, though, do not definitively label suspect schools as cheaters.
"This is one data point that we use to investigate schools for wrongdoing, among many other data points," said Justin Barra, a spokesman for the department. "We combine this data, along with other slices of data and cheating tips that we receive throughout the year, to investigate potential cases of wrongdoing. And this has been happening throughout the year."
It is not yet clear if the department took any action since 2008 in any schools where a high percentage of answers were changed from wrong to right, or if the investigation is still continuing.
The release of the Education Department's test erasure information comes in the midst of headlines about test cheating facilitated by teachers and administrators in several U.S. cities including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Orlando, New York and Baltimore.
In 54 New Jersey schools, when results from all grades were combined, the wrong answers were erased and changed to correct answers at a rate significantly higher than the 2010 state average, according to the report.