CHICAGO — A new report by Chicago Public Schools' Inspector General questions the amount of time some students were given to complete an evaluation test, saying 14 schools may have violated time standards.
According to the 11-page report released Tuesday, a standardized test that typically takes an hour was administered over several days, and students were allowed to “pause” the test several times.
The Northwest Evaluation Association, which produced the tests, said they are not intended to be timed. But in some cases, CPS "turned into a multi-day or even week-long event," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Students took three times the national average to complete the test at 14 CPS schools, according to the report, which quotes a teacher as saying one high-scoring 8th grader went through “mental torture” while taking more than a week to complete her test.
The evaluation test in question can affect admission to selective enrollment high schools, so a lot of students take it seriously. The report found students who were given the the most time to complete the test got higher scores.
One tactic outlined by the report indicated, “students who sat on a question for 25 minutes, without answering it, so that the question would automatically pause.” Another tactic included “proctors who told students to re-read questions, nodded or shook their heads at student answers, rephrased questions, or gave students math formulas.”
In all, 20 students were interviewed. Although there are no time guidelines for the test, the concern is that those students aren’t meeting national averages.
“This is especially worrisome because excessive durations can make it difficult to accurately compare CPS results to national norms,” the report said.
In its report, the OIG issued recommendations including hiring a test security expert to look at procedures. A CPS spokesperson said they plan to implement all the recommendations, but stressed none of the claims in the report were investigated.
“Protecting instructional time and ensuring consistent testing practices is a district priority and we appreciate the recommendations provided by the CPS Office of the Inspector General," said Emily Bolton, Director of Media Communications & Strategy for CPS.
"The untimed format of the NWEA assessment requires additional guidance, training, and auditing, and we are carrying out a thorough plan of action to better support our schools,” Bolton said.
The Chicago Teachers Union responded Tuesday, basically saying: "so what?"
"Students took their time with this test means that they used those rules to their advantage. That isn’t cheating…it’s reading well," said Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.
The report also comes after Inspector General Micholas Schuler announced he’s stepping down. The Sun-Times reports that there have been complaints linking him to a “toxic workplace.”
Click here to read the full report.