Las Vegas school trustees air frustration over unproved claim about test score cheating

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LAS VEGAS — School officials in Las Vegas said Friday they're frustrated that a seven-month investigation ended inconclusively after administrators at a neighborhood elementary school were accused of altering achievement test scores.

Trustees Carolyn Edwards and Linda Young and district spokeswoman Kirsten Searer said Friday that Clark County School Board members didn't blame state education chief Dale Erquiaga, who declared in April that he had "no doubt" that student answer sheets had been altered "by one or more adults in the system."

"Finger-pointing doesn't get us anywhere," Young said.

But Edwards and Young said they want better investigations in the future.

Officials said test security was breached, and test scores for 2012 were nullified at Kelly Elementary School.

Young, who represents the area, said during a board meeting Thursday she was upset about the effect the incident had on two school officials who were suspended in April and later returned to district jobs, but never officially cleared. A district official who was also suspended later retired.

"People were maligned who were not proven guilty," Young told The Associated Press on Friday. "But we're moving forward. We want this corrected for the future, and that everyone knows the standards and processes."

Young credited state school officials with acting in April with the information they had, and with devoting resources to the investigation.

State education spokeswoman Judy Osgood noted that separate investigations for the state Education Department and Clark County School District found high numbers of erasures on questions that were answered correctly in tests at Kelly.

But investigators in both probes never determined who was responsible.

"It's hard to prove exactly who or how or when the tampering happened," Osgood said, "but at the end of the day it's clear that tampering occurred."

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