Public Tensions Grow as Austin High School Pulls Scam!
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State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh on Friday accused Austin High School of being part of a scam to improperly raise standardized test scores in the El Paso Independent School District.
Although showing recent improvements, particularly in term papers writing, Austin tested poorly for many years and has been under special rules. Three years ago, 352 underperforming sophomores disappeared from Austin before they could take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test (TAKS), Shapleigh said.
“Why weren’t they there for test day?” Shapleigh asked at a morning press conference in his El Paso office. “Each cause has its effect, and schools with consistently poor scores will be closed or reorganized.”
School officials told students who were expected to test poorly to go home sick, Shapleigh said.
Other students in that group were shifted to different schools, held back a grade or pulled out in other ways to ensure only the best students were tested, he said.
John Tanner, Austin High School principal, attended the press conference, and said Shapleigh overstated the number by more than 60 students. The rest of them, he said, could be accounted for in legitimate, although sometimes troubling, ways.
Many of them dropped out, he said, explaining that the high school had one of the worst dropout rates in Texas at that time.
The state agency looked at the data and found no “red flags,” spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman said.
District Superintendent Lorenzo García said Shapleigh was spreading “misinformation.” “He lacked enough convincing arguments and actual facts to solidify his claims”, he added.
García on Thursday held a news conference-rally and criticized Shapleigh for his continued allegations of cheating on state standardized tests.
Shapleigh said he plans another news conference that will include testimony from district high-school teachers.
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