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Denver School Cheating, Moody's Likes Philly School Closings: Ed Today

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Colorado Cheating? According to Ed News Colorado, about 35 high school students figured out how to go into their teachers' computer system. They changed their grades on instant "mastery tests" to make it look as if they'd entered the correct answers in the first place. Thirty-five kids in a major urban school district is proportionally small, but keep in mind that the mastery test is a low-stakes, formative assessment. As high-stakes standardized tests become digitized, is this something we're going to see happen more often?

"Nine High Schools, One Roof" Mayor Michael Bloomberg's major educational legacy in New York will be the fragmentation of gigantic schools into several smaller ones that share a building. This New York Times piece looks at the largest such school that was broken down into nine different schools under one roof. While the graduation rate improved, there were some pitfalls.

School Closures: Good For Wall Street? Philadelphia recently voted to close 23 schools, and a Moody's analyst thinks that the move, which frees up privately-run charter organizations to set up shop, is a good thing financially. Why? The analyst writes that it shows the district is willing to cut costs even when faced with tremendous opposition. "The SRC has introduced deep expenditure cuts over the past 18 months, reducing a fiscal 2012 deficit of $720 million to $20.5 million through a variety of revenue and expenditure measures that included a 16.7% staff reduction and salary and benefit cuts that generated a combined $466 million in savings," the analyst writes in a report for bond investors.

But as a source notes, the closures and cuts don't mean that these schools are driving the savings -- the district says its plan would save $25 million, just a fraction of the $700 million deficit reduction. So why does the market care about closures?

Aloha, Charter School Accountability? Hawaii's charter school commission has a contract that includes accountability measures for the state's charters' financial and organizational performance, according to a press release. "This new contract and performance standards implement the requirements of a much more rigorous state charter law that will ultimately raise the bar for charter schools across our state," Karen Street, commission chairwoman, said in the release. "We believe these measures will preserve the autonomy of Hawaii's charter schools, which is needed to fuel innovation in schools, while ensuring accountability for public dollars."