Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of photos of standardized tests have begun to appear on social-networking sites in California, raising concerns about test security and cheating by students.
In the worst-case scenario, the photos could lead to invalidating test scores for entire schools or prevent the state from using certain tests. For now, officials have warned school districts to heighten test security and investigate breaches. Students are not allowed to have access to cell phones or other devices that can take pictures when the tests are administered.
“Test security was compromised when students posted images of actual test questions, answer documents and test booklets to social networking sites,” Deb Sigman, a state Department of Education deputy superintendent, said in a letter Friday to school districts. “You have a responsibility to prevent any such incidences in the future.”
Educators involved in testing sign an affidavit asserting that they follow and enforce all rules.
So far, officials have found more than 100 students to be involved, but say they weren’t necessarily trying to cheat.
“Most of the images discovered so far contained only students posing with a closed test booklet, blank answer documents or answer documents with a message written on them,” the state Education Department said. Some images, however, “appeared to contain test questions or completed answer documents” from both the annual achievement tests and the state’s high school exit exam.
Any picture could be evidence of a security breach, because a student with a cell phone could also search the Web for answers to a question, said Paul Hefner, communications director for the California Department of Education.
Woodland Unified, near Sacramento, first spotted the images. So far, 34 districts could have problems, although Hefner was not able to provide a list Friday.
L.A. schools Superintendent. John Deasy said he doesn’t know yet if students from his district were involved. “This could be a serious breach of security, and could compromise this year’s assessments,” he said.
State officials haves asked website operators to remove the images, which were posted on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and Webstagram.