Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lax security at charter school suspected: NORTH HOLLYWOOD H.S. CLEARED IN STATE TEST LEAK

A former North Hollywood student, however, is believed to have posted some state test information online after transferring. State officials are still investigating.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

July 21, 2012  ::  North Hollywood High School has been cleared in a leak of secure state test items, but a former student at the school has some explaining to do.

The student was among those who allegedly posted online a total of 36 questions from various standardized exams conducted last spring. The questions were traced to 12 schools across California, including North Hollywood — but the student no longer attended that campus during the testing period.

By that time, the student had transferred to an independently managed charter school, according to a source who was not authorized to comment publicly. There, the student took the standardized test for chemistry and photographed two items that subsequently appeared online. Cellphones and other picture-taking devices are prohibited during testing.

North Hollywood High was the only campus mentioned on the student's social-networking site, leading to a mistaken conclusion about where the student was enrolled, said Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the California Department of Education. Hefner confirmed that the state had identified the student as well as the current school. He declined to name the second school to avoid the possibility of publicly identifying the student.

But L.A. Unified officials also have access to the student's identity — which means the student could face discipline. The issue is complicated, however, for students enrolled in charter schools. An independent charter has its own board of directors, and it is typically responsible for discipline.

In all, 249 individuals posted 442 images of test materials that were linked to 147 schools in 94 California school districts — though most images were not of actual test questions. State officials were most concerned with determining whether the 2012 tests were broadly compromised; they've determined that the results for the state and school districts remain valid.

But individual schools could have issues. The former North Hollywood student could have leaked information either to students at that school or to friends at the charter. As a consequence, the scores at both schools will be evaluated.

In the worst case, a security breach or other violation could result in a school being stripped of its score on the state's Academic Performance Index as well as other sanctions.

No comments: