Jacks Valley cheating alleged in Reno TV report
A principal accused of coaching two students through tests has been cleared, according to the Nevada Department of Education.
Jacks Valley Elementary School Principal Pam Gilmartin was the subject of an investigation conducted by the state and the district starting in August 2013.
According to the letter provided to The Record-Courier by the Douglas County School District, Test Security Coordinator Carol Mason said the investigation is closed.
While Gilmartin’s name was redacted from the letter, a broadcast report by News Channel 4 named her on Monday.
In her letter, Mason said she reviewed information gathered by testing coordinator Brian Frazier into allegations that Gilmartin “may have provided inappropriate assistance to students whom she tested in a small-group settings based on sharp increases in their CRT scores from the spring of 2012 to the spring of 2013.”
Frazier’s findings did show that students experienced a rise and then a drop in test scores from 2013 to 2014. Mason pointed out that students who didn’t test with Gilmartin also experienced a similar rise and fall.
The state investigator analyzed erasures from tests in 2012 and 2013, and found they were with in normal ranges.
“Although erasure analyses are not an indicator of possible coaching, we can conclude that students were not prompted to change responses, nor were answer documents altered by other individuals,” Mason wrote.
Mason found there was no evidence supporting the allegations, but suggested the district require two licensed individuals in future testing environments.
Douglas County Superintendent Lisa Noonan said that it’s not unusual for individuals in small subpopulations, like students for whom English is a second language, to be tested individually. School administrators also sometimes give makeup tests. She said she prefers that principals not give the tests because if something happens that requires the administrator’s attention, the test can be invalidated.
“As a general rule, I’d rather not have principals supervise tests,” she said.
Noonan said she asked for the state’s findings in writing.
The teachers told Channel 4 they learned of the results of the test from a broadcast report and that they weren’t contacted in the investigation.
Noonan pointed out that the teachers didn’t see Gilmartin coach the students, but because the two students’ test scores were higher than anticipated, they believed there was impropriety.
When the district received the allegation, Frazier as testing coordinator looked at the scores and contacted the state.
Noonan said she is retiring next fall for family reasons, something she announced on Feb. 10, and is unrelated to the story.