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Murrieta students face suspension for posting test material online

May 4, 2012 |  2:51 pm

Several students in Murrieta who posted images of state testing documents on social networking sites are facing suspension for violating security rules, a school district official said.  

One student reportedly posted photos of a few exam questions; the rest posted images of the test’s cover, doodles inside their booklets and of each other, said Karen Parris, spokeswoman with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.

"It doesn't appear they were trying to cheat," Parris said. "They were just doing what students tend to do -- share their lives online … but certainly, during tests, they are not supposed to have their cellphones out at all."

School district officials learned about the images Wednesday night after state education officials notified them. The district is one of many that the California Department of Education alerted after finding that scores of photos of testing materials have shown up this year on sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Webstagram.

"Students throughout California have worked hard to prepare for these examinations, and it’s vital to maintain the integrity of the testing process," state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson wrote in an April 27 security reminder.

State officials asked ETS, its testing contractor, to investigate whether any particular test had been compromised. They have also asked affected districts to find out if, how and why photos ended up online.

In Murrieta, six students from three schools -- two high schools and one junior high -- posted photos on the Internet. Three other students snapped pictures but apparently did not post them, Parris said.

She said principals reminded students and parents through automated phone messages that cellphones were off-limits during exams. Those who violated rules would have devices taken away or be suspended.

"I don’t think any of these students had an understanding of how serious the consequences can be," Parris said.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

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