Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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Superintendent: Cheating scandal will not be ‘swept under the carpet’

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Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, responds to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014.

In the aftermath of a cheating scandal at a Las Vegas elementary school, Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky vowed to discipline any employee who tampers with student testing.

Earlier this month, a state investigation into test score irregularities at Matt Kelly Elementary School found that adults changed students’ answer sheets but could not determine who did it.

“I’m not surprised, but it concerns me,” Skorkowsky said this week of the Nevada education department’s mixed findings. “We want to get to the bottom of this as much as anybody and we want to be accountable to not only the state department of education, but to the kids and the community of that school or any other school.”

Three administrators overseeing the school have been placed on paid leave. Skorkowsky said the district is seeking depositions from the state to determine what disciplinary action to take, and whether other employees will need to be disciplined. Ultimately, the entire staff at Kelly elementary might be reconstituted, Skorkowsky said.

“Without having all of that information, it’s hard for me to say what discipline needs to take place,” Skorkowsky said. “But as we move forward, if there are situations where discipline is warranted, we will be disciplining. We’re going to be adamant that this is not going to be tolerated. This is not something we’ll sweep under the carpet.”

Skorkowsky acknowledged that the School District failed to investigate the school adequately, but also said the district and state were unprepared to handle cheating investigations. The two-year investigation was hampered by delays in test score analyses, inadequate preliminary investigations and lying witnesses, according to the state’s report.

“It was a very long process,” Skorkowsky said. “I don’t think the state had ever had to deal with anything like this before.”

As Nevada moves to computerized assessments next year, Skorkowsky said the state and district will adopt revised testing security measures. The district also will train administrators on how to ensure these new online assessments will be safe from tampering.

However, Skorkowsky said there will always be testing irregularities that pop up whenever there’s a high-stakes test.

“Having 357 schools, I’m sure that there are other irregularities that we will be investigating extensively as we move forward,” Skorkowsky said. “I think to the extent that this case has gone forward, I would say it is an isolated case, but I don’t know for sure.”

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