CPS board, watchdog spar over test 'irregularities'

Posted2/27/2020 11:05 AM

Days after Chicago Public Schools officials agreed to overhaul their standardized testing procedures, Board of Education members grilled the inspector general whose report led to the changes in a heated, nearly two-hour argument over his findings.

Nearly every one of the board's seven members peppered CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler with questions about his office's investigation that found "unusual patterns" and "irregularities" in some test results. He told board members they would be "naive" to think his findings didn't include attempts to game testing procedures.


Wednesday's exchange, which featured each side talking over the other, put into public view months' worth of tension between Schuler and CPS over the testing issue. The discussion was also a lively send-off for Schuler, who's set to leave the job at the end of the week after he was forced into a resignation last month.

Schuler's investigation focused on CPS' highest-stakes test -- the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) -- which is used to evaluate teachers and principals, screen for selective enrollment admissions and determine each school's rating. The test, many including board members have argued, was never intended or designed to be used for such major decisions.

But the core of the debate between Schuler's office and CPS is whether using the word "cheating" was appropriate in a report that didn't necessarily substantiate any concrete examples of wrongdoing.

The report did find problems in the system -- ones that allowed testing procedures to be "repeatedly violated" -- that could be exploited for a student's advantage.

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