Columbia Takes Steps to Prevent Cheating Scandal

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COLUMBIA - Thirty five educators in Atlanta recently turned themselves in for manipulating students' answers on standardized tests. This incident has fueled an already heated argument about the importance placed on standardized testing and raised the question of how well the tests are monitored.

Right now Missouri doesn't pay to have fraud detection services or inspectors to randomly schools. Missouri relies on the districts to monitor testing.

Thursday, Columbia Public Schools held training to reinforce correct testing procedures.

"We really want to get the most accurate read, and that's how we've discussed it with teachers. We want to know where the students are at so they can improve," Director of Research, Assessment and Accountability for Columbia Public Schools Chris Sharp said.

Kristin Nies has been teaching at Paxton Keeley Elementary School for five years and at least 60 standardized testing days.

Nies said on testing days the desks are spread out in the classroom, and no one can go in or out during testing time. Nies doesn't have access to the tests until 30 minutes before she distributes them to her class.

As much preparation as the tests are, Nies said testing is only a small part of what a teachers should focus on.

"Everything you're doing from the moment they walk in your classroom in August is helping them soak up as much knowledge and learning as they can so that no matter what question is on that MAP test they feel confident in their ability to answer," Nies said.

"[In Columbia] there's no financial incentive, that was a challenge in Georgia where they were actually giving incentives based on how well kids did," Sharp said.