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Brian Jacob quoted in USA Today about significant changes in standardized test scores

March 7, 2011

Brian Jacob was quoted in a USA Today article called "When test scores seem too good to believe."

The article discusses the findings of a USA Today investigation of the standardized test scores of students from six U.S. states—including Michigan—and the District of Columbia. The analysis was conducted in collaboration with the Detroit Free Press, The Arizona Republic, and The Cincinnati Enquirer, plus and two reporters from California.

The investigation found 1,610 examples of significant fluctuations in test scores that are considered statistically rare and suspicious. These 'rare' scores fell more than three standard deviations from the mean. As explained by USA Today, in layman's language, this means the students in that grade showed greater improvement than 99.9% of their classmates statewide.

Large year-to-year jumps in test scores by an entire grade should raise red flags, especially if scores drop in later grades, Brian Jacob told USA Today. Such fluctuations by themselves do not prove there was cheating, but Jacob says they offer "a reasonable way to identify suspicious things" that should be investigated.

Read more:

- Detroit Free Press
- The Cincinnati Enquirer
- Education News Colorado
- The Arizona Republic