State documents detail standardized test cheating, irregularities at New Orleans schools — The Lens
In three recent years, 33 New Orleans public schools have been flagged for problems and possible cheating on standardized tests, including an excessive number of changed answers, plagiarism and improper test proctoring, according to records provided by the Louisiana Department of Education.
There were 51 separate instances of irregularities or infractions at those schools in 2010, 2011 and 2012, causing 130 tests to be voided.
The Lens counted 15 incidents that would be considered major infractions under state guidelines.
The article notes that not all infractions are proof of cheating. On the other hand, the stakes on these tests are very high, considering that they may determine a teachers’ job security or end-of-year bonus. In a companion piece, The Lens explains its methodology and links to the source documents. On Thursday, Lens education reporter Jessica Williams will discuss her story in a live chat at 12:30 p.m.
Heated N.O. school board ends in stalemate — The Advocate | A charged, five-hour Orleans Parish School Board meeting seems to have run the gamut: “The discussion between board members and the advocacy groups who came to lobby them swung sharply from accusations of out-and-out racism to an emotional and at times personal debate over how to protect gay students who face discrimination.”
Sinking sections of eastern New Orleans hurricane levee prompt $1.3 million repair — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Rapidly subsiding soils will make it challenging to keep a stretch of levee up to 100-year flood protection standards.
Why Finding Oil in Fish Organs Isn’t as Bad as it Looks — WWNO | Oil is accumulating in the tissues of menhaden, an important small fish in the Gulf food chain. However, scientists say the oil levels do not endanger Gulf fisheries or pose a danger to human consumption.
BP asks court to suspend spill payouts pending investigation — Fuel Fix | BP lawyers want to halt oil spill payments to civil claimants while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates the claims administrator’s office.
Mayor rejects proposal to cut Central City ladder truck instead of Ladder 5 on Arabella — Uptown Messenger | “Mayor Mitch Landrieu has rejected an Uptown neighborhood association’s request that a ladder truck in Central City be removed from service rather than the truck on Arabella Street [in Uptown], saying that the squad in Central City responds to fires much more frequently.”
DNA testing increases in La. property crimes — The Advocate
“Our officers now, instead of not even considering DNA, are looking at it as their first option when they go out on these cases,” said Deputy Chief Kirk Bouyelas, of the New Orleans Police Department. “It’s not just the murders and the shootings and the serious crimes, it’s even on the property crimes.”
‘A national epidemic’: Caring for aging Louisiana prisoners raises fiscal, legal, social issues — The Town Talk | Healthcare for aging prison populations is straining government budgets throughout the country. Louisiana is no exception. Of the 1,000 inmates who typically work the farm outside the penitentiary at Angola, only 700 are physically able to do the job.
“This place was not built to accommodate people like this,” [Warden Burl] Cain said. “I’m telling you, we’re really feeling it.”
Government & Politics
Port Allen Democrat switches party, hands supermajority to Republicans in Louisiana Senate — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | State Sen. Rick Ward III of Port Allen is “the third state lawmaker to defect to the Republican Party in as many months.”
Regulators Seek Stiffer Bank Rules on Capital – The New York Times | Sen. David Vitter receives credit for driving the renewed conversation about measures to rein in banks that are “too big to fail.”
“The Brown-Vitter bill really galvanized the debate about ‘too big to fail’ and capital ratios,” said Camden R. Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, an industry group that supports the agencies’ proposed rules. “It really focused the regulators’ attention on these capital issues.” With their latest move, the regulators hope to make the rules clearer and tougher.
Key Transparency Fund Threatened Again in House Budget — Center for Effective Government | A liberal government watchdog group says a new House bill would cut funding for “numerous flagship transparency programs, including USAspending.gov, Data.gov, Performance.gov, and the IT Dashboard.”
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