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Schools lose award eligibility because of test items posted online

Eleven California high schools have lost eligibility for some state and national awards because students posted cellphone images of items from state standardized tests on social networking sites earlier this year.

None of the schools was stripped of its rating on the state’s Academic Performance Index, a penalty that can be applied when too few students are tested or when there is cheating or a mistake that affects the testing process at a campus.

L.A. County schools affected were Glendale High School, Millikan High in Long Beach and Rowland High in Rowland Heights.

“We hold the school responsible because the expectations is that test administrators are trained,” said Deputy Supt. Deborah Sigman of the California Department of Education. “These electronic devices are not to be available to students during the time of testing.”

State officials concluded that the tests remained valid, but the investigation and analysis pushed back the release of results this year by two weeks.

“There was no way we could know the extent to which those items had been seen by others,” Sigman said. “We had to retire all those items because of their exposure. It was a cost.”

The schools won’t be eligible for the next cycle of California Distinguished Schools, the national Blue Ribbon program or an award for high-achieving schools that serve low-income students.

The other schools were: North Monterey County High, Oak Hills High in San Bernardino County, University City High and Mar Vista High in San Diego County, Castillero Middle and San Jose High in Santa Clara County, Watsonville High in Santa Cruz County and Strathmore High in Tulare County.

North Hollywood High was originally on the list of schools to be investigated because a student who posted a test item was traced to the school. But it turned out that the student had transferred to a charter school and took the photo there.

The state made no public announcement that the schools would lose eligibility for the awards, but the issue was noted on each school's data report. Those reports were released on Thursday.

In all, 249 individuals posted 442 images of testing materials in April and May that were linked to 147 schools in 94 school districts. Most images were not of test questions; only 36 of those were compromised.

School officials in Long Beach said they identified and disciplined the 10th-grader who posted
an image of a geometry test question.

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-- Howard Blume

 
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