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2 Baltimore City Schools Confirmed To Have Cheated On State Tests

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There's intense scrutiny for two Baltimore City elementary schools amid allegations that it changed test answers and altered attendance records.

Andrea Fujii explains what city school leaders are going to do about it.

The head of city schools had some tough words for anyone who tried to rig these standardized tests, and he's spending a lot of money to try to fair it out with cheaters.

A brazen cheating scandal on standardized tests at two Baltimore City elementary schools-- Abbottston Elementary and Fort Worthington Elementary--has drawn outrage among city and state schools leaders

"It was a real really figurative act of violence against our communities, our parents and our students," said Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso.

Abbottston Elementary recently drew in a high-profile visit from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Investigators there found suspicious eraser patterns on tests, changes from incorrect to correct answers, high number of erased answers, and they even looked at the direction of erasures.

It's "an insult," said Nancy Grasmick, State Schools Superintendent, "a terrible injustice and insult to the abilities of the students of this city."

The city school CEO  would not say what disciplinary action he took against the principal.

But the head of the administrator's union says they are being unfairly targeted. A similar scandal unfolded last year at George Washington Elementary after a parent complained.

"On the one hand, it awakens the skeptics," Dr. Alonso said. "On the other hand, it becomes an opportunity to demonstrate that it's not tolerated. It is not going to be tolerated."

City schools spent almost $400,000 to put testing monitors in every school.

"Our kids and our students work too hard to make advancements for everyone's ability to be called into question because of the few people who don't want to play by the rules," said Mayer Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Now Dr. Alonso, whose contract is up next week, says these are isolated incidents. He does not believe cheating is pervasive throughout the entire system. And he did hint that he may be staying on.

Starting next year, all standardized state achievement tests will be checked electronically for any evidence of cheating, including erasure marks.

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