California punishes 23 schools after teachers helped students cheat

School test illustration 
By: Sarah Weiss 

California punished at least 23 schools after teachers helped students cheat on tests, according to California officials.

One third grader had some good news: She was doing very well on her standardized exams, she proudly told a school teacher. How do you know? The teacher asked.

"My teacher told me what answers are correct," she said. With that, the fate of Westside Elementary School in Thermal was sealed.

State authorities have stripped Westside and 22 other schools from school rankings for cheating, other misconduct or errors in the administration of standardized tests given last spring.

The misconduct ranges from not covering the black boards and more apparent irregularities, including helping correct errors or preparing students with the real exam questions.

The state defines these events more than 5 percent of students tested in a school, the school loses its annual rating API of California, which was released this month. The API is a scale by which schools are officially measured in California.

A high score leads to higher funding while low scores can label schools as failures and be subject to penalties.

The number of schools with test scores invalidated remains relatively small: about two dozen each for the last three years in a state with more than 10,000 schools. Some teachers may have thought they were within limits when in fact they were not.