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Published April 07, 2012, 10:54 AM

ND Officials Find No Evidence of Cheating on Tests

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Education officials in North Dakota say they have found no evidence that school districts in Bismarck and Fargo altered test scores.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Education officials in North Dakota say they have found no evidence that school districts in Bismarck and Fargo altered test scores.

The investigations came after a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that Bismarck Public Schools and Fargo Public Schools were among nearly 200 large school districts across the nation shown to have an unusual fluctuation in test scores from one year to the next. The analysis did not prove cheating, but in Atlanta, the pattern was an indicator of cheating in multiple schools.

That was not the case in North Dakota, education officials said.

"We would deal with cheating with a very heavy hand. I don't believe we have that going on in our system," Bismarck Public Schools Superintendent Tamara Uselman told The Bismarck Tribune for a story published Saturday.

Bismarck and Fargo were the only North Dakota school districts with more than 10 percent of their classes flagged as having an improbable jump in test scores from one year to the next between 2008 and 2011 on the North Dakota State Assessment. The test is given to third- through eighth-graders and 11th-graders. It covers mathematics, language arts, social studies and science.

The Department of Public Instruction conducted an initial investigation and found nothing that suggested cheating, said Greg Gallagher, the department's director of standards and achievement.

"Variations in data occur all the time," he said. "Even extreme variations can occur."

However, the state will continue to work with the Center of Assessment, a national organization that helps states design and implement effective testing, for the next few weeks to make a final determination.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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