SC Student Assessment Scandal Needs Investigating

STATE TESTING DEAL RIFE WITH ALLEGATIONS OF CRONYISM, BUREAUCRATIC MEDDLING || By FITSNEWS || This website has written extensively on the so-called “accountability” measures in place in the government-run school system. To read our latest report on this ongoing, costly and totally ineffective debacle … click here. Anyway, the Palmetto…


|| By FITSNEWS || This website has written extensively on the so-called “accountability” measures in place in the government-run school system.

To read our latest report on this ongoing, costly and totally ineffective debacle … click here.

Anyway, the Palmetto State’s ongoing effort to give the illusion of academic progress (where none actually exists) is drawing some scrutiny this week.  Specifically, a controversial $58.5 million contract for annual academic assessments is being hotly contested – with all sorts of allegations flying.

For years this business has gone to a politically connected company called Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) – which was at the heart of the 2009 “dumbing down” of state assessments.

DRC is the S.C. Department of Education (SCSDE)’s longtime testing partner.  In fact within the SCSDE, the agency’s director of assessments Liz Jones has been working with the company for the last two decades.

Obviously in a market-based education system such a lengthy partnership would have never lasted.  Why not?  Because as we’ve repeatedly documented, South Carolina’s tests were (and still are) crap.

And in a free market system, crappy results would have resulted in changes being made … years ago.

Last September – after lawmakers made extensive changes to the way government bids out these contracts (removing SCSDE’s exclusive control) – Iowa-based ACT won a bid to administer these assessments.  Needless to say, the status quo didn’t like losing its multi-million dollar empire one bit.

DRC appealed the award and ultimately got it overturned on a technicality – with ACT being given a one-year deal to implement the state’s tests in anticipation of a “do-over” bid being sent out this summer.

So … who’s going to win that “do-over” bid?

Leaving nothing to chance, SCSDE – with Jones leading the way – pushed a budget proviso aimed at putting the bureaucracy back in charge of bidding out this contract.  Not only that, it prepared a draft request for proposal that our sources say could only be successfully answered by DRC.  Additionally, the agency and the company appear to have improperly coordinated on a DRC-funded event involving all district testing coordinators held in Columbia, S.C. last month.

Jones was one of the featured speakers at this event, by the way.

The game is rigged in other words … with the objective being the restoration of the old contract.  The return of the failed status quo.

Reformers aren’t happy.

“Serious questions exist about whether adequate steps will be taken to insure that this decision hasn’t already been made, and that South Carolina gets a test that will benefit the students and public and best allow us to measure performance against peers around the country,” one source told FITS.

We agree …

We don’t have a dog in this fight.  As we’ve said all along, the only real “accountability” in education is that which is provided by the marketplace – but unfortunately South Carolina lacks such accountability because it’s parental choice program is severely limited.

Nonetheless, it seems wrong to permit any one bureaucrat – particularly one with a clearly demonstrated bias – such undue influence over what is supposed to be a competitive process.


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The Colonel July 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

“…$58.5 million contract for annual academic assessments…”

And there in lies problemo numero unu – we’re paying some firm $58 million to analyze the results from a standardized test. For about a million dollars we could staff and equip an “office of data analysis” within the SC Department of Education – but wait, we already have one! The Division of Data Management and Analysis has a staff of 39. Why can’t this division handle the mission of conducting assessment? Overworked? Doubtful but even if they are, slice off 5-10% of that $58 million and create the staff need to properly do the job.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

It is a shame that it costs that much for academic assessments and I doubt it is going to improve, but a sample of the problems as they have existed:

“More than 150 teachers and administrators from 44 public schools across Atlanta were caught changing answers on standardized tests used to judge student performance and rank schools, according to a state report.”

“The dozen educators who stood trial, including five teachers and a principal, were indicted in 2013 after years of questions about how Atlanta students had substantially improved their scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, a standardized examination given throughout Georgia.”

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Yeah, the Atlanta Area Public Schools(Fulton, Dekalb) were a train wreck when I lived in Atlanta in the eighties and nineties. My ex-wife and I decided that our son would not participate in the public school system. Our son attended private daycare, private preschool, private grade school, and he graduated from Marist Catholic High School. It was a lot of money, but well spent. He graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill in two years and eight months, after just turning twenty years old.

The Colonel July 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Had friends at Marist, that was money well spent.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Yes, the kids I saw there were the greatest, along with the staff. Many students picked up college credits, did community service, etc., they also field top-notch sports teams. My son play in the Georgia Dome in a class AAAA state football championship game.

Tazmaniac July 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I’m not one ordinarily to religion bash, but with this new Pope have they changed the name to MarXist Catholic High School?

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I know what you mean. As far as I am concerned, Pope Francis should be in Havana with the Castro boys. My ex was a catholic, I am non-participating.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I have tried all of them, but currently a non-participant.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm


Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I’ve never lived in Atlanta, but have visited and do follow education. My little one started off in a Methodist Church for pre-school, tried the Charter Online 1st grade and moved to pure homeschooling last year. I use the same Curriculum (yes — curriculum, it has an easy interface, accountability, progress reporting and the books). It is really dummy proof – thank goodness ;).

All joking aside, it is difficult to homeschool across the spectrum of disciplines. This year my husband is retiring and we are dividing up the classes.

Based on my interaction with the counselors at public school, I am very impressed, but they rank low academically — yet very nurturing. I am sure mine will one day go to a public or private school, but for now, we are happy with home school.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Many people won’t or can’t take the time to participate in their child’s education. Good for you, not only will your kid get educated, you will learn in the process. And you really don’t need a state agency contracting with an evaluating agent to determine how your kids progressing.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Even as a homeschooler they test them in 3rd grade. I feel mine is prepared. I think many more would, if they could. I do know my experience with Virtual Charter was interesting. Best teachers! But not so sure about parental involvement after a required meeting at the beginning of the school year – when I actually met some of the other parents. That is when I changed over to pure home school.

Education is such a multi-fold issue. You have parents who can’t or won’t, teachers some who care, some don’t – Administrators who make ridiculous salaries too lofty to care. Cheaters, haters, those who want to use education to push their political agenda at the inception, there is no easy fix for education. That is why I have a tendency to favor school choice.

Victorious Secret July 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm


You should also look at the big wave of charter schools popping up (not online only). Fascinating stuff. This upcoming year, there will be over 20,000 students in SC that attend a charter school.

Using metrics, such as, you’ll see that the charter schools dominate the top rankings when compared to their percentage of occupying the market.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I like Charter schools. I am certainly not dissing on them. I sent in a letter of recommendation to Dr. Zais for the teacher I worked with. I also follow greatschools and various other metrics. At the end of the day it is how your child excels.

I like Charter, I support them wholeheartedly. I just felt my child could move ahead more quickly with one on one attention, and more focus on areas of interest vs. offerings. In all fairness to Virtual Charter, which I loved esp the teacher…..they offered me those classes ahead of schedule if I would stay. We were a role model family – their words, not mine. I had a role model teacher. The lessons invaluable – she gave me confidence to do it on my own. I struggled with objectivity.

I LOVE the Charter schools. I just prefer to do it my own way, on my own dime, not mess with packaging books up, shipping them back — preferring to use them for the summer. As it stood with the online Charter School, the books belonged to the school. You didn’t have to pay for them or the shipping, but you couldn’t buy them either. At that time.

Virtual Charter is excellent! I just wanted a more personal approach.

Victorious Secret July 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Indeed. Make no mistake, I certainly wasn’t implying that you chose incorrectly. I cannot agree with you more about the fact that the parent (engaged parent) knows what is best for their child.

I recently became involved with a charter school and through the process was quite impressed with what all I learned. It is rather amazing how some of these schools can get results in certain students that they would otherwise not. There are certainly many more options today than there were back when I went through school.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I just didn’t want it to come across that I am not in favor of Charter Schools, because I absolutely am.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

It is amazing he graduated so quickly! Nice job.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Thanks, I learned him everything he knows.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

ROTFLMAO! I’m going to axe him about that!

mamatiger92 July 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Maybe it was the exception, but I graduated from Northside HS (Fulton County) in 1988 & I have to say that I had wonderful teachers. The curriculum was very challenging. I heard similar positive things about North Fulton back in the day. I should add that I did not attend elementary or middle school in Fulton county.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Perhaps an overstatement on my part. It would have been more accurate referencing the Atlanta school system.
I apologize, There are some nice public schools in the Atlanta area..

mamatiger92 July 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

No need to apologize. I think I was lucky. I think the quality of the school had a lot to do with the fact that it was in Buckhead (Buckhead of the 80’s, not today) & the magnet programs helped. My folks actually considered Marist & Paideia for me, as well. There was a huge exodus from public schools in that area around the time that I graduated. In fact, Northside no longer exists. Northside & North Fulton were combined to form North Atlanta.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Atlanta was a great place to live. I got there in 1972, thought I had died and gone went to heaven, I was single. That was the days of the singles apartment complexes(I lived at the Royal Coach Apartments up past the Interstate 75 and 85 split.)I think the Feds later ruled that single’s complexes were discriminatory.

mamatiger92 July 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm

That’s not too far from where we lived. We lived between Howell Mill & Northside Drive for a few years. Atlanta has changed so much. I wouldn’t live there now for all the money in the world.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Me Neither, I am down that way probably once a year, my boy lives in DeKalb County.

edr July 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Sumter County hired the supt from Atlanta

The Colonel July 6, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Nothing Sumter County does surprises me anymore.

Sybil July 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Based on my limited knowledge of Sumter – that may be a benefit.

shifty henry July 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Somebody should tell them to go to Riverbanks Zoo and read the sign in front of the Lemur exhibit — ask them if they want concerned parents and citizens to become Ring-tailed Lemurs.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm

What kind of sign do they have in front of the piss-ant and cock-a-roach cage?
“Do not disturb, future SCSDE bureaucrats at work” ?

shifty henry July 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm

In that environment they are harmless. With 24 hour observation and contained in a secure location we should fear no danger.

shifty henry July 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Erneba, it’s the Meerkats we should monitor. Have you ever watched them zip around and burrow those tunnels? They are fast! The ones I like to watch are the sentries — they hop on the wall and will give a signal if they sense danger. And I’ll tell what’s embarrassing — I took a new girl in town to the zoo and when I went too close to the sentry he went wild! I must have jumped a foot off the ground. The kids who were there didn’t like me either because the other Meerkats disappeared into their tunnels.

Rocky July 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Prefer the bare ass orangutan.

erneba July 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Yeah, those are sexy, the females remind me of one of my ex-girl friends.

Rocky July 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm

There goes the coffee through the nose.

shifty henry July 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Now I know why your name is “Rocky”…..

Tazmaniac July 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

But, but, it’s for the CHILDREN! Don’t you care about the CHILDREN? How much longer before SC edoocashun devolves to teachers having test answer changing parties a’ la Atlanta?

Rocky July 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

For 1 million I can do it myself. Call me Nikki!!!!!!!

jimlewisgowb July 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

Education sucks but Legislative attention is focused on a “flag”

Nd doubt the IQ of every child in South Carolina will go up by 50 points when the “flag” is furled

“The Future”- Well young fella I see here you received a High School Diploma from Jasper High School however according to our assessment center you cannot read or do math – any comment

Yes sir – that’s right – but I was in pre-school when the “flag” came down

Fucking Cockroaches

erneba July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am

SCSDE is the most corrupt state agency in SC. They waste money by the busload, promote unqualified people that would be unemployed in the private sector, and try to masquerade the results of this standardized testing to promote social goals in the name of equality. The entire agency should be dissolved and replaced by a private competitive system that would ensure proper results for all students of varying capabilities. Every student should be given a chance to be properly evaluated based on a fair academic, not social, standards.

Rocky July 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Schuul in South Karonlina is just fin. I gradated in 1987 wid my digree and got a job working as a dich diger in Florance. I mak good monie and have a new traylor.

RogueElephant July 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I have van 8 yr. old grandson that can operate a backhoe. You need some post graduate work. LOL

Rocky July 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Like ++++++


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