PALMETTO — It’s official. Manatee School for the Arts has been cleared of allegations of cheating on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, by the state, according to school district officials.
The state’s Deputy Education Commissioner Kris Ellington sent a memorandum to School Superintendent Tim McGonegal on Tuesday.
“Due to the fact that the potential advantage to the school is minor and your investigation found no improprieties, the department’s decision is to remove the “I” (or incomplete) designation and release all 2010-11 accountability outcomes using all student test results,” Ellington wrote.
Ellington added that she had received the district’s investigation finding no improprieties. She said the state’s Department of Education reviewed the investigatory documents and made its decision based on that information and the evidence provided by Caveon Test Security. It was Caveon that raised the initial red flags about cheating.
Fourteen school districts were notified in mid-June that one of their schools had a possible incidence of cheating due to “extremely unusual levels of erasures,” according to state documents. Caveon offered an analysis based one exams that changed answers from wrong-to-right. Nearly 7,000 tests initially were invalidated due to Caveon’s findings. And in Manatee County 35 seventh grade reading tests were threatened with being thrown out unless the district held an investigation.
District officials concluded their investigation about June 20.
“They redid all those calculations,” McGonegal said.
In the end, less than 1 percent fit the criteria where cheating could be a possibility, McGonegal added. The list of 14 schools was narrowed to two, he said.