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Two local schools could be ineligible for academic awards after students post test pictures

Posted: August 9, 2013 6:24 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2013 6:24 p.m.

Hart and Saugus high school were among 242 schools statewide that could face discipline this year after students were found to have posted pictures of standardized test materials online, according to officials from the California Department of Education.

Both Santa Clarita Valley schools landed on the list because students posted pictures online of the covers of test booklets for the Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment, according to the California Department of Education.

One such picture was posted from each of the local schools by students taking the STAR test in the spring, according to officials.

Though any final decision on action could change as investigations progress, Deborah Sigman, a deputy superintendent with the California Department of Education, said both local schools are on a list of 226 statewide that could be deemed ineligible for some academic awards, including recognition as a California Distinguished School.

“When you have that kind of security breach you could potentially not be eligible,” she said Friday.

Currently, the presence of both schools on the list makes them ineligible for academic awards at this time, Sigman said.

“Right now, that would be the case,” she said.

Both schools are part of the William S. Hart Union High School District. District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said Friday the district is reviewing the report from the Department of Education.

“Hart school district administrators and staff take all student testing seriously and strive to meet the highest level of ethical standards,” Pinsker said. “We are reviewing the report by the (California Department of Education) of two isolated occurrences at two of our schools and will consider additional steps to prevent this from happening again.”

Statewide, 16 schools face the possibility of more serious action after their students posted materials that could have had a much larger impact on testing integrity, such as pictures of test questions themselves.

“We take the validity and reliability of our assessments very seriously, and our schools do too, which is why we redoubled our efforts to monitor these postings and alerted school districts when they occurred,” said Sigman, who oversees assessments and accountability issues for the Department of Education.

But most had more minor violations.

“These postings look to be attempts by students to gain attention among their friends, not an effort to gain an advantage on a test,” Sigman said.

None of the breaches affected test results, according to state officials.
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