Testing breach instigates concern for consequences school may face

The 2012-2013 STAR Test Security Affidavit provides guidelines for how the examination should be administered. This week, a few MVHS students posted photographs of testing materials online, violating protocol. Source: Startest.org

The 2012-2013 STAR Test Security Affidavit provides guidelines for how the examination should be administered. This week, a few MVHS students posted photographs of testing materials online, violating protocol. Source: Startest.org

Amrutha Dorai

STAR testing documents posted online could affect exam score release date, eligibility for school awards.

According to an email from administration sent to the staff, a few MVHS students posted photographs of STAR testing material online during the week of April 8. Following the breach, test proctors were told to prohibit the usage of all technological devices for the remainder of the testing periods. The incident has left students speculating what this will mean for the school in the long term.

apiAt the statewide level, this is not an isolated case. 442 photographs of the exam were posted online last year, 36 of which showed actual test questions, according to the Huffington Post. As a result, the release of test scores was pushed back two weeks from mid-August to Aug. 31 to allow the state time to investigate whether the leak had any effect on scores. The same Huffington Post article stated that investigators later concluded that the posting of questions online had no impact.

If more than five percent of a school’s population — at MVHS, that would amount to about 120 students — violates testing protocols, the school’s Academic Performance Index score is nullified, according to California Department of Education’s STAR administrator John Boivin, who spoke to the Orange County Register after last year’s incidents. A school without an API score could lose grants or be subject to sanctions.

However, the school can still be penalized if less than five percent of students violate protocol. Boivin said that an implicated school loses the ability to qualify for statewide awards, including being named as a California Distinguished School, an honor MVHS has received in the past. For community members, this loss would mean less positive spotlight on MVHS from news organizations and the state, as well as a decrease in home value.

The penalty for the students who posted the photographs online is a “district or school-level decision,” according to Pam Slater, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education who spoke last year to the Napa Valley Register.

Check elestoque.org for updates on the testing breach.