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Cheating feared after photos of school tests leaked

Hundreds of photos of standardized tests have begun to appear on student social-networking sites in California, raising concerns about cheating and test security that could create thorny problems for schools and school districts.

In the worst-case scenario, the photos could lead to invalidation of test scores for entire schools or prevent the state from using certain tests. For the moment, state officials have warned school districts to heighten test security and investigate breaches. Students are not supposed to have access to cellphones or any other device that can take pictures when taking the tests.

“Test security was compromised when students posted images of actual test questions, answer documents, and test booklets to social networking sites,” said Deb Sigman, a state Department of Education deputy superintendent, in a letter Friday to school districts statewide. “The California Department of Education takes these breaches in security very seriously and … reminds you that you have a responsibility to prevent any such incidences in the future.”

Statewide, school systems are about halfway through the annual California Standards Tests, which make up most of a school’s state rating on the Academic Performance Index. The tests also are used for federal accountability systems.

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