A South County high school where about nine students used their cellphones last month to snap photos of state standardized testing materials could lose its ability to compete for state honors for two years, including California Distinguished School, a state education official said.I have a little bit of knowledge about the state testing materials and all the efforts they make to safeguard them. There are very strict rules in who can access the materials and how they're stored and accounted for before the test. They take this stuff pretty seriously.
Tesoro High School in Las Flores reported as many as nine students improperly pulled out their cellphones during the May 16-18 administration of annual Standardized Testing And Reporting, or STAR, exams, said Marcus Walton, a spokesman for the Capistrano Unified School District.
The students were not attempting to cheat, but rather bubbled in their multiple-choice answer sheets in patterns forming slang terms and other short words, including "LOL," Walton said. The students then snapped photos of their answer sheets and posted them online.
"The test questions nor the correct answers were photographed and put out, so the integrity of the test was never at stake," Walton said. "These answer sheets that were bubbled in were used to send joke messages. It's kids who were goofing around being kids."
But John Boivin, administrator for the California Department of Education's STAR program office, said students who improperly use their cellphones during the exam's administration represent a serious violation of testing protocols. Whether the students cheated, or intended to cheat, is irrelevant, Boivin said.
A few years ago another local high school had 690 AP test scores tossed because of irregularities in how those tests were handled. That one caused all sorts of problems.