Davenport principal faces allegations of improper standardized testing

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The former principal of Madison Elementary School faced the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners as the state worked to sort out allegation of standardized testing violations.

Sara Gott was credited with helping Madison School achieve award-winning status for achievement in teaching and learning in 2012. Madison moved from being one of the worst performing schools in Iowa to one of the best in the state.

The following year, Madison Elementary School and Gott came under scrutiny after the Davenport Community School District self-reported more than five times the district average, for erasures and corrected answers, happened on standardized tests administered to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Madison.

The corrected answers boosted the students’ average reading score to 92% at Madison, more than 25% above the district average.

Related: Iowa Assessment tests altered at Davenport elementary school

Gott was formally charged with two counts of misrepresenting or falsifying information and one count of unethical practice. The charges were part of a complaint filed by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.  The hearing regarding the accusations against Gott, who is now principal at Hayes Elementary, began Monday, July 21, 2014, in Des Moines.

The charges could end her career in education.

Gott has denied the allegations against her. She said she thought she followed district protocol when she used copies of the previous year’s tests to help students prepare for the standardized tests and to identify areas that need improvement.

Her attorneys said district administrators shared concerns with Gott, before she became principal at Madison, that the school’s standardized test results had been unusually high, in comparison to the rest of the district, for a decade.

No criminal charges were filed, but Davenport Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Art Tate said it was clear the students did not make the erasures and corrections on the answer sheets.

The hearing was expected to conclude Wednesday, July 23. A decision could take several weeks.