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Alexandria: Cora Kelly Pre-Testing Irregularity Under State Review
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Alexandria: Cora Kelly Pre-Testing Irregularity Under State Review

Administration takes disciplinary action against principal.

A pre-Standards of Learning test irregularity at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science, and Technology resulted in disciplinary action against Principal Brandon Davis and an ongoing investigation by the Virginia Department of Education.

"ACPS regrets that this happened,” said Superintendent Alvin Crawley in an email. “Our understanding is that this was not a deliberate error. It was investigated and corrective action was taken by Central Office as soon as the irregularity came to light, prior to the start of SOL testing. During this period of investigation, ACPS actions were transparent, accountable and followed procedures set out by the state at all times.”

According to Charles Pyle, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education, the issue is not settled yet.

“This matter was reported for an assessment decision,” said Pyle. “That report is in the process of being closed. It hasn’t been closed yet. While a case is still open, it’s something we can’t discuss.”

Pyle said the schools use an online system to report irregularities, which the Department of Education reviews.

“If there was a case with violation of protocols, there may well be a directive from the Department to the school district to provide corrective action plan,” said Pyle. “That could involve training or decisions about who gets to proctor what tests. Then there’s a final report and the matter is closed. That doesn't mean the case is really closed. There may well be personnel piece at the local level. Potentially there could be licensor piece.”

Pyle said that while those are some potential results of the state’s decision, none of this was specific to the Cora Kelly testing irregularity.

The following is a statement from Davis released Tuesday, July 19:

“On May 11, 2016, information was shared with the superintendent suggesting irregularity with the pre-testing process at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology.

“On May 12, 2016, the superintendent ordered an investigation into this information, which was carried out from May 12 through May 16, 2016. The matter was immediately reported to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Additional discussions occurred with VDOE throughout the process.

“The investigation found that an irregularity had occurred prior to Standards of Learning (SOL) testing. I asked staff to inform parents of 37 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students that they had the right to opt-out of state testing in line with state procedures.

“I only asked staff to share the information that came as part of the state's 457 announcement allowing students to opt-out of testing, which came out via the Office of Accountability. My error was not inquiring as to how this information should have been shared with parents, and only contacting 37 parents with the information.

“My actions did not affect the subsequent SOL testing procedures at Cora Kelly. The testing procedures that were followed were in line with procedures set by the state and ACPS.

“Corrective action was taken by Central Office as soon as the irregularity came to light, prior to the start of SOL testing. The school division personally contacted each of the parents of the students involved and no student went into the testing period without the opportunity to participate in the tests. Further, the school division had additional staff from the Office of Accountability participating in the monitoring of SOL tests at Cora Kelly during the testing period.

“During this period of investigation, ACPS actions were transparent, accountable and followed procedures set out by the state at all times. I have also been open and transparent at all times throughout the process.

“As a result of this, ACPS took appropriate disciplinary actions. I will ensure that I check with the division prior to dissemination of public information in the future.

“I wish to stress that I did not do anything that I perceived was intentionally wrong at the time. I did not place my opinion on anybody. I apologize for the impact my actions have had on ACPS.”