Cheating Inquiry Under Way at 2 Top-Rated City Schools

Marion Herbert's picture
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two of the highest-ranking public elementary schools in New York City are under investigation for possible irregularities on state examinations, officials said.

The special commissioner for investigation, Richard J. Condon, is examining whether teachers improperly coached students during examinations at Public School 31 andPublic School 257, said Mr. Condon’s spokeswoman, Laurel Wright-Hinckson. The schools are two miles apart in northern Brooklyn.

Ms. Wright-Hinckson also said that “there may be other schools involved.”

The inquiry began after administrators and teachers at Intermediate School 318, where many of the children from the two elementary schools move on to, noticed that their class work was worse than their fifth-grade test scores would suggest it should be, according to staff members at Intermediate School 318. After one year at I.S. 318, the standardized test scores of some of these children were falling sharply.

“In some cases, students with perfect scores dropped from being in the 99th percentile to the 30th percentile,” one staff member at the school said. “It was impossible.”

The staff member, like others at I.S. 318, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the commissioner’s inquiry.

The principal of P.S. 257, Brian Leavy-DeVale, said he had not been officially notified of the investigation and would not comment.

Mary Scarlato, the principal of P.S. 31, also would not comment.

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