August 15, 2013 1:51 pm

CA Students Share Tests via Social Media

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Will cheating impact the schools’ Academic Performance Index?STAR testing logo

This week, California education officials announced that they have identified 242 schools statewide where students posted images of standardized tests on social media websites. The photographs contained information from the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) test that was administered throughout the state last Spring, a multiple-choice test that is expected to be replaced with assessments tied to the Common Core curriculum in coming years.

Out of the 242 schools that were found to have students who released images of their tests, most were found not worthy of being deemed cheating. Rather, officials say that the photographs often did not contain actual test information. Some students claim that they posted the test images on social media sights for fun, if they found the questions silly, and other reasons.

However, 16 of the 242 schools were flagged by education officials as potential cheating violations. These schools could face serious consequences as a result of the cheating. The biggest fear for the schools is that they may lose their Academic Performance Index score, which can be lost completely if five percent of the school’s standardized tests are invalidated. Schools that lose their API scores are more likely to be affected heavily by budget cuts, losing grants or facing sanctions if they have not succeeded in meeting academic performance targets.

As of now, education officials are not expected to impose worst-case scenario consequences onto the 16 schools. But California’s discovery points to a growing movement around the nation: while test scores increasingly affect teachers’ evaluations, school closings, and budgetary rewards and sanctions, an increasing number of cheating scandals are coming out of the woodwork, particularly in urban districts such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, and the District of Columbia.

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