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Duncanville ISD Questions Newspaper Analysis, Defends Its Testing

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DUNCANVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Duncanville school officials are standing by the integrity of their standardized test scores in spite of being criticized in an Atlanta newspaper for results that appear “suspicious.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday that 196 of the nation’s 3,125 largest school districts had a high degree of suspicious results on standardized test scores, which could point to instances of cheating.

Seventeen Texas districts were flagged — including the state’s second largest, Dallas ISD.  But the much smaller Duncanville ISD has the highest number of irregularities, according to the newspaper’s analysis.

“They are so on top of it, I wouldn’t expect them to be mentioned at all,” said parent Sakeenah Woods.

Woods has five children in the Duncanville school district, and says she would like to know more before raising accusations based on a newspaper article.

“I trust them,” says Woods, “but, at the same time, you have to look at everything.”

A spokesperson for Duncanville ISD says they have asked the newspaper for more information on their methodology and how they reached the conclusion that the scores were “suspicious.”

The district says it has not received a response and remains confident about the integrity of its testing process.

“Monitors in classrooms and things of that nature, “ says district spokeswoman Tammy Kuykendall.  “Those processes are well in place and they [parents] can feel very confident about the quality of education their children are receiving.”

Duncanville, located in southern Dallas County, has a student population of roughly 13,000 and has an Acceptable state ranking —although none of the district’s 18 campuses are currently ranked Exemplary.

Kuykendall says the district’s students are challenged and engaged on a daily basis, but neither they nor their teachers are pressured to focus solely on standardized testing.

“It’s a slice of what we do; a part of what we use as a tool to measure student achievement and success,” she said. “But, we really place great emphasis on developing the whole child.”

Although the paper did not accuse any of the districts of outright cheating, Duncanville parent Amy Sliger says the mere mention of testing impropriety warrants a closer look.

“It’s a big concern with my child approaching school age,” says Sliger. “So, it’s definitely something that’s going to raise questions, in my opinion.”

The Texas Education Agency, which oversees the state’s schools, says it has no plans to investigate test scores in any of the districts mentioned, based on the newspaper’s investigation.

The agency released a statement questioning the methodology the newspaper used, saying “The newspaper tracked test scores by school, not by student, and we have found that can have up to a 20 percent variance.”

The newspaper, meanwhile, is standing by its analysis.

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