HolyCoast: Cellphone Photos May Cause a Local High School Some Academic Problems

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cellphone Photos May Cause a Local High School Some Academic Problems

Last Saturday I administered the SAT to a room full of high school kids, and one thing that's absolutely mandatory is that cellphones can never come out at all, even during the breaks.  That's to protect the integrity of the test and keep people from transmitting test questions to others.  Just seeing a cellphone in a student's hand can cause that kid to have their test voided.  Apparently the same rules are supposed to apply to the state STAR testing, but one local high school has a problem:
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.

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.
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.

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.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

A guy could wonder why any cellphone would not be confiscated (turned in; held incommunicado) for the duration of the test.