In an August 20th article entitled "New Orleans Charter testing drama casts light on how cheating allegations are handled," The Times-Picayune uses unsubstantiated claims that Miller-McCoy Academy staff opened high-stakes exams in advance so students could be prepped on a few actual test questions.
Let us assure you, absolutely and unequivocally, there have been no instances of cheating with regard to high stakes testing at Miller-McCoy Academy. The article claims that five teachers allegedly raised concerns of similarities in test questions. Miller-McCoy Academy was never afforded the opportunity to talk to these teaches because Recovery School District never revealed their names.
After nearly two years, no one can prove the validity of these complaints. Even the newspaper article states that only 1-out-of-thousands of practice questions were concluded by the Recovery School District to be "similar." That is not conclusive evidence. It is not uncommon for disgruntled former employees to spread untruths, but should our students' testing performance be cast into doubt? Miller-McCoy Academy's young men succeed through hard work and preparation — not cheating.
Let me give you some background on what actually happened. In May of 2010 it came to our attention that the Recovery School District had received unsubstantiated reports of testing irregularities from unnamed sources. Miller-McCoy Academy's Board of Directors viewed these accusations as a very serious matter that required immediate attention.
While the Recovery School District and Louisiana Board of Secondary Education (BESE) have their respective investigative procedures in place, Miller-McCoy Academy Board of Directors took the additional step of retaining independent legal counsel to lead the inquiry to reach an unbiased truth. The independent counsel found no instances of cheating. Our Board submitted these findings to the Recovery School District in August 2010.
Eighteen months have passed and neither the Recovery School District, Louisiana Department of Education nor BESE has sanctioned Miller-McCoy Academy in any manner. It is unfortunate that we must respond to The Times-Picayune, who has reportedly interviewed our accusers. These anonymous accusers have never revealed themselves to Miller-McCoy Academy.
We are fully aware of the recent cheating scandal in Atlanta, but it is unfair for The Times-Picayune to cast a negative light on Miller-McCoy Academy because it may be on a fishing expedition to find similarities of cheating in New Orleans. In addition, an email quoting an unnamed state official that it was too late to void test scores is laughable. Miller-McCoy Academy's test scores were not voided because no cheating occurred.
While responding to allegations of a matter that was put to rest over a year ago is unfortunate, it will not distract us from our mission of educating young urban males. As New Orleans' only all-boys public charter school, we are unwavering in our commitment to the most demanding demographic in America. We are winning — transforming lives, transforming families and transforming our communities.
This new school year, our enrollment has increased by more than 100 students. Currently have 30 percent of our senior class is participating in an innovative dual enrollment program, taking college courses at local universities while attending Miller-McCoy Academy. And next May, the Class of 2012 will be Miller-McCoy's first graduating class.
We appreciate your support and thank you for standing with Miller-McCoy Academy as we show the world that urban male students can and will become critical thinkers, responsible citizens and positive leaders in the community.
Miller-McCoy Academy, New Orleans' only all-boys charter public school, serves over 530 urban male students in East New Orleans. Miller-McCoy Academy is the only public, all-boys option for parents seeking a gender based structured environment with emphasis on exceptional academics and culture. Miller-McCoy Academy is an open admission, college preparatory school serving grades 5-12.
Benton Smallpage is President of Miller-McCoy Academy Board of Directors. Smallpage may be reached at 504-373-6215.
Photo and banner courtesy of Miller-McCoy Academy.
Read more stories from The New Orleans Agenda »