ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich mentions possible cheating at St. Louis Public Schools in a 38-page audit made public Wednesday morning.
Schweich launched the investigation last year after deciding to audit the four biggest school districts in the state: St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Rockwood.
At that time, Schweich said he would look specifically at procurement practices, compliance policies and information reporting.
Cheating is discussed on 4 pages of the 38-page audit, in a section entitled "Missouri Assessment Program Testing." The section mentions "significant fluctuations (increases or decreases) were noted in the percentage of students meeting established achievement levels at various schools," but went on to say, "unusual fluctuations are not required to be investigated (by the Accountability Office)."
The audit concluded that the SLPS does not have a good way to identify and investigate unusual fluctuations in standardized test scores from school to school.
For its part, the St. Louis Public School District said it has a "comprehensive formal process in place" to investigate such swings in scores.
Schweich also expressed concern over the district's financial future. The SLPS had been received from money from settlements in degregation lawsuits for several years; that funding, worth tens of millions of dollars, will end in June 2014.
The audit suggests the district will have to undergo significant cuts or seek additional funding elsewhere in the form of bond issues or asking voters to approve tax increases.
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed released a statement Wednesday responding to the audit.
"It is my understanding that students attend school in order to be educated, not promoted to the next grade level if they are not equipped with the required skills," she said. "We are setting our children up for failure if we do not give them every chance to succeed. That includes teaching them the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic up to the expectations of each grade level."