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Former North Hollywood student posted test items

July 20, 2012 |  4:30 pm

North Hollywood High School has been cleared of leaking secure state test items, but a former student at the school has some explaining to do.

The student was among those who allegedly posted online a total of 36 items from various standardized exams conducted this spring. The items were traced back to 12 schools across California, including North Hollywood — except that the student no longer attended that school during the testing period.

By that time, the student had transferred to an independently managed charter school, according to a source who was not authorized to comment publicly. There, the student took the standardized test for chemistry and photographed two items that subsequently appeared online. Cellphones and other picture-taking devices are prohibited during testing.

North Hollywood High was the only campus mentioned on the student’s social networking site, leading to a mistaken conclusion about where the student was enrolled, said Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the California Department of Education. Hefner confirmed that the state had identified the student as well as the current school. He declined to name the second school to avoid the possibility of publicly identifying the student.

But L.A. Unified officials also have access to the student’s identity — which means that the student could face discipline. The issue is complicated, however, for students enrolled in charter schools. An independent charter has its own board of directors, and it is typically responsible for discipline.

In all, 249 people posted 442 images of testing materials that were linked to 147 schools in 94 California school districts — most images were not of test items. State officials were most concerned with determining whether the 2012 tests were broadly compromised; they’ve determined that the results for the state and school districts remain valid.

But individual schools could have issues. The former North Hollywood student could have leaked items either to students at that school or to friends at the charter. As a consequence, the scores at both schools will be evaluated.

In the worst-case scenario, a security breach or other violation could result in a school being stripped of its score on the state’s Academic Performance Index as well as other sanctions.

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-- Howard Blume

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