Friday, October 24, 2008

GRANADA HILLS CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS STOLE OR VIEWED SAT EXAM + U P D A T E: The campus' executive director says five students were involved. The scores could be invalidated

By Mitchell Landsberg | LA Times Staff Writer

October 23, 2008 -- The head of Granada Hills Charter High School acknowledged to parents Wednesday that students had stolen or viewed SAT exams before taking the college entrance test earlier this month.

Brian Bauer, executive director of the school, blamed "a failure to properly secure SAT testing materials," and said he was deeply disappointed by the incident.

In an interview with The Times, Bauer said that students had gained access to the SAT one day before it was given. "Two in particular had reviewed it and a handful were involved in removing copies of the exam before the exam took place," Bauer said.

He later said a total of five students were involved.

The Educational Testing Service is investigating the incident, which means that the scores from the Oct. 4 administration of the college entrance exam could be invalidated.

Bauer said the exam had been stored on campus and was under the supervision of a school employee who had been hired by the Educational Testing Service as the "test supervisor." That person was responsible for ensuring the security of the test, Bauer said.

Bauer said he could not discuss in detail what action the school had taken, "except to say the gamut of discipline, including suspension and removal from the school, is being considered and in some cases has been taken" against the students, "and the same would apply to any particular employee or employees."

A number of students expressed dismay Wednesday about the school's handling of the issue. In e-mails to The Times, they said the tests were left in the open in a school office that was frequented by students, and that there was no adult supervision when the security breach occurred. They said that some of the students who were later punished had merely "peeked" at the tests, and walked out when they realized what they had seen.

Given that, they said the school's response, which reportedly included "opportunity transfers" of at least two students to other schools, was overly harsh.

Dylan Leas, a senior who said he was not among those taking the SAT, described two students who were forced to leave the school as "hardworking and honest," and among Granada Hills' top achievers.

"The student body is outraged at the fact that the school rushed their investigation just to dish out punishment fast and swift," he said.


U P D A T E: SAT eliminates scores of several Granada Hills Charter students

SAT scores of students who saw test earlier are tossed

October 24, 2008 -- The company that administers the SAT exam announced Thursday that it was throwing out the scores of several Granada Hills Charter High School students who managed to see copies of the test the day before they took it earlier this month.

But the Educational Testing Service said there was no need for a wider cancellation, suggesting that investigators were confident that any stolen tests had not been widely distributed.

The testing service had previously said that it was investigating a security breach in the exam and was unsure how far it extended.

"We have concluded . . . that a majority of scores will be reported and only those limited number of students directly involved will have their scores canceled," testing service spokesman Tom Ewing said. "They will not be given an opportunity to retest [immediately] and if they test in the future again, they will do so under very strict observation and most likely separate from the rest of other students."

The security breach has roiled the San Fernando Valley campus, with some students expressing anger over the way it was handled by Granada Hills administrators.

-- Mitchell Landsberg

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