State Launches DPS Cheating Probe

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State officials have launched an investigation into possible cheating on standardized tests at two Denver elementary schools. The Denver school district isn't releasing their names, but Colordo Public Radio's Education Reporter Jenny Brundin has confirmed they are Beach Court Elementary in Northwest Denver and Hallett Fundamental Academy in Park Hill.

Here is a transcript of her report.

Reporter Jenny Brundin: Both schools have high poverty levels. Beach Court has continually ranked as one of the state’s top performers in academic growth, going from 40% of students reading at grade level in 2004 to 85% in 2010. But Jo O'Brien with the Colorado Department of Education says Denver Public Schools asked the state to look into some abnormal statistical results with last year's test scores.

Jo O'Brien: It was clear that this was peculiar and unusual and it was clear that it was something that we wanted investigated in the school.

Reporter: Part of the analysis included looking at the number of wrong answers that were erased and changed to correct answers on state standardized tests. DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg says red flags were raised for two schools but:

Tom Boasberg: The statistics in and of themselves do not in any way imply wrongdoing and no conclusions should at all be reached.

Reporter: Still, he said it was important to get an independent evaluation. Donna Lucero heads the Northwest Coalition for Better Schools, which has provided tutoring at Beach Court for five years. She firmly believes the improvement there happened because of hardworking teachers, not because of cheating. She speaks especially highly of Principal Frank Roti.

Donna Lucero: He’s there early, late, and intense about being effective. He worked very hard over several years to put in place the most effective teachers.

Reporter: The state attorney general's office is leading the probe. DPS is not sure how long it will take, but officials promise to release full results to the public when it's finished.