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OSSE Releases 2011 DC CAS Test Integrity Investigation Results

Friday, June 22, 2012
Commissioned Report Highlights Statewide Security Protocols, Testing Measures

WASHINGTON, DC – The Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) today announced the completion of an extensive investigation examining the integrity and security procedures of the 2011 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) administered statewide. 

“OSSE has been dedicated to establishing and enforcing test integrity, ethics and transparency,” said State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley.  “Although representing just one component of a much broader monitoring process within our agency, conducting a thorough, rigorous, uncompromising investigation of DC CAS testing measures was integral to fulfilling this mission.”

Commissioned by OSSE in March after a competitive bidding process, Alvarez and Marsal, LLC (A&M) investigated classrooms in both District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Public Charter Schools (PCS) flagged for possible testing concerns, following analysis of 2011 DC CAS test results.  The classrooms selected for further review were analyzed for wrong-to-right erasures, score variation within classrooms, and student gains from 2010-2011.

In the past, once notified by OSSE, LEAs conducted their own investigations. This year, OSSE hired A&M to conduct an independent investigation. LEAs also had the opportunity to add classrooms of their choosing to the OSSE list. DCPS added 36 classrooms and no charter LEAs elected to add additional classrooms.

"A&M completed a rigorous investigation of the classrooms identified, applying standardized processes involving site visits, document reviews and one-on-one interviews,” explained A&M Managing Director Joe Gardemal.  “We paid close attention to the testing environment and directly asked the administrators interviewed about their participation in or knowledge of testing violations in the school."

A total of 70 classrooms were investigated by A&M. In total, 3 schools were categorized as “Critical” (serious test security violation), 9 schools as “Moderate” (anomalies with defined violations but not test tampering), and 11 schools as “Minor” (test protocol anomalies for forensic analysis), and 14 schools were categorized as having “No issues.” As a result, DC CAS scores for 3 classrooms were invalidated out of the 70 classrooms flagged.

A&M made the following recommendations to OSSE following its investigations:

            1.         Align documents and review processes and protocols

            2          Create one centralized location for forms on the OSSE website

            3.         Require training materials that LEAs are mandated to use

            4.         Collect documentation that school-level training has taken place

“Today’s investigation results show that in 99.94% of classrooms, our teachers, administrators and school communities are playing by the rules,” added Mahaley.

Editor Note:

Alvarez and Marsal, LLC created a multi-disciplined team of professionals from the Public Sector Services (PSS) and Global Forensic and Dispute Services (GFD) practices with backgrounds in investigations, independent assessments, and experience working on behalf of K-12 education clients. Joseph T. Gardemal III, a Global Forensic and Dispute Services Managing Director and Melissa Glynn, a Public Sector Managing Director, led the team.

A&M’s GFD provides specialized investigative and analytical services to help resolve complex accounting and financial issues and disputes.  A&M works closely with law firms, corporate boards, and management of companies and public sector clients involved in multifaceted commercial, financial and accounting disputes and irregularities.  The team conducts rigorous accounting, financial and economic analysis to help resolve a range of disputes – from internal irregularities to litigation – from the boardroom to the courtroom.  In addition, GFD conducts comprehensive corporate and technology investigations to help companies identify and mitigate risks and properly address internal or external accounting and financial inquiries.

A&M’s PSS practice focuses on driving transformational change with local, state, and federal clients.  It has worked with multiple large, urban districts to resolve critical challenges including Special Education management, designing weighted student funding approaches, and driving cost management execution programs.

Joining the practices culminated in a team with deep investigative capabilities and a track record of working on behalf of school districts.  A&M’s heritage in fact-based performance drives a commitment to identifying deviations from established policies as testing was implemented at the classroom level.

There were a total of 15 team members from the A&M Washington, D.C. office that worked on the investigations.