Lars Jörgen Pålsson Syll is a Swedish economist who is a Professor of Social Studies and Associate professor of Economic History at Malmö University College.
On October 13, 2012, Manny Fernandez reported in The New York Times that former El Paso schools superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was sentenced to prison for his role in orchestrating a testing scandal. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a state-mandated test for high-school sophomores. The TAKS missing data algorithm was to treat missing data as missing-at-random, and hence the score for the entire school was based solely on those who showed up. Such a methodology is so easy to game that it was clearly a disaster waiting to happen. And it did. The missing data algorithm used by Texas was obviously understood by school administrators; all aspects of their scheme were to keep potentially low-scoring students out of the classroom so they would not take the test and possibly drag scores down. Students identified as likely low performing “were transferred to charter schools, discouraged from enrolling in school, or were visited at home by truant officers and told not to go to school on test day.”
But it didn’t stop there. Some students had credits deleted from transcripts or grades changed from passing to failing so they could be reclassified as freshmen and avoid testing. Sometimes, students who were intentionally held back were allowed to catch up before graduation with “turbo-mesters,” in which a student could acquire the necessary credits for graduation in a few hours in front of a computer.