Monday, March 19 , 2018, 5:04 pm | Fair 63º


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Local Schools Get STAR Test Results Flagged After Students Took Photos

La Cumbre Junior High School’s standardized testing results have been flagged by the California Department of Education along with 15 other schools where students posted test-related photos on social media during the annual spring testing.

STAR – Standardized Testing and Reporting – is administered all over the state and has strict protocols to prevent cheating.

The results were posted last week with the caveat that 242 schools had students post images to social media during the testing.

Most of those images were harmless – posing with a test booklet or showing something illegible – but 16 schools had postings that showed test questions or answers.

La Cumbre’s testing incident involved one student, Santa Barbara Unified district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani said.

Additionally, one student at Santa Barbara High School posted an image during testing, but it did not show any testing information.

The La Cumbre photograph was taken with a cell phone, and showed part of the student’s answer sheet, while the Santa Barbara High photograph showed part of a test booklet cover, Keyani said. Both photos were posted on social media.

Neither captured test content, but the incidents violated district testing and cell phone policy, according to a district statement.

“It is disheartening whenever a student makes a bad choice,” Superintendent Dave Cash said in a statement. “We cannot stress enough to our students that the casual posting of inappropriate images on social media have profound personal and professional consequences.”

La Cumbre Junior High School, Righetti High School in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and Arroyo Grande High in the Lucia Mar Unified District all had their results flagged and could have repercussions to their accountability measures, the Academic Performance Index.

"A security breach involving social media exposure of 2013 STAR test material has been confirmed at this school site," the warning reads on each school's STAR results. "Caution should be used when interpreting these results. This security breach may have an impact on the school’s Accountability Progress Reporting." 

If the security breach affects less than 5 percent of the students tested, the school will be ineligible for academic awards, but if it’s more, the school’s API could be invalidated, according to the Department of Education.

The state will decide the impact when it releases its API numbers in a few weeks.

La Cumbre Junior High tested 524 students, Righetti High tested 1,504 students and Arroyo Grande High tested 1,603 students this spring.

Last year, the Department of Education found images posted by students at 216 schools and flagged 12 schools. It does “rigorous monitoring” every year in addition to random security audits and training examiners on testing protocol.

This spring could have been the last STAR session ever, since the state is thinking about starting computer-based assessments next year in concert with the new Common Core State Standards.

The testing will switch over when the standards get implemented in 2014-15, so many districts want to test it out as soon as possible.

Statewide, STAR scores went slightly down, which State Superintendent Tom Torlakson attributed partly to ongoing budget cuts and the transition to Common Core.

“The big picture is one of remarkable resilience despite the challenges,” he said in a statement.

In math, 51.2 percent of students scored proficient and above, which was a slight drop from 2012, and in English-language arts, 56,4 percent of students scored proficient and above, which was a drop of 0.8 from the previous year.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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