The following is the text of a letter prepared for distribution today, Wednesday, May 9, to students, parents, and staff at Silver Spring International Middle School from Dr. Theresa M. Flak, community superintendent. The letter concerns the outcome of a report to the Board of Education yesterday by Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, regarding the findings and recommendations of an investigation into test security violations. File copies of the superintendent's report and the report on the findings and recommendations can be viewed through the links at the end of this announcement.
For more information call Brian J. Porter, director of communications, at 301-279-3853 or an after-hours cell phone at 301-919-0741.]
May 9, 2001
Students, Parents and Staff of
Silver Spring International Middle School
Dear Students, Parents, and Staff:
I regret to inform you that changes in personnel at Silver Spring International Middle School -- including the removal of the principal, an assistant principal, a mathematics team leader, and four teachers -- have been made this week as the result of a two-month investigation into test security violations that occurred in March on the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS).
Ms. Gloria T. McCoy, assistant principal, has been named acting principal temporarily. Two administrators from the Office of School Performance, Ms. Susan F. Marks and Mr. Darryl L. Williams, have been assigned as acting assistant principals. In addition, several substitute teachers have been assigned to the school to cover the affected classes. Let me assure you that every effort will be made to maintain the continuity of the instructional program for the remainder of the year. However, it will be necessary to make certain staffing adjustments over the next several weeks to accommodate the loss of staff.
A meeting with parents, in conjunction with the PTA, will be scheduled as soon as possible to address any concerns and questions about these events.
The following is a summary of steps being taken as a result of the findings by the Deputy Superintendent of Schools based on a comprehensive investigation into test security violations:
* A recommendation has been made to the Maryland State Department of Education for the invalidation of CTBS mathematics results for sixth grade students at Silver Spring International Middle School. This will not affect student grades, but it will impact the test results for the school and the school system.
* Disciplinary actions have been recommended against 11 staff members. No students were involved, and no other staff are being investigated in connection with this incident.
* All current Silver Spring International Middle School instructional staff will undergo a training program in testing protocol and procedures prior to the next standardized testing.
* For the next two years, staff from outside the school will monitor the administration of standardized testing at Silver Spring International Middle School.
These actions are necessary because an investigation found the following:
* A mathematics team leader, who served as a backup test coordinator and who had authorized access to the test booklet, made multiple copies of pages from the mathematics portion of the booklet.
* Copies of the mathematics portion of the test booklet were distributed to eight other teachers.
* All but one of these teachers used the copies to inform themselves about the content of the test and prepare review materials for sixth grade students.
* Two of these teachers then made additional copies of the actual test questions and distributed them to students either as a class activity or a homework assignment.
* The violations were revealed after two students recognized questions during the administration of the test as being the same ones they had in a homework assignment from the previous night.
* Two administrators of the school, including the principal and an assistant principal, failed to provide adequate supervision and training to all staff in test security at the school and did not implement and maintain appropriate test security protocol for the CTBS.
* Finally, there were significant failures in the administrative response to the violations in test security.
The report on the findings and recommendations of the investigation, along with the accompanying report to the Board of Education by Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, is available in the school's main office for your review and information.
Dr. Weast made an important point in concluding his report to the Board of Education. He said "this incident should not diminish the overall quality of the school, the academic program, and the other members of the instructional staff who were unaware and uninvolved in the test security violations. The steps being taken to restore confidence in the school, with the appointment of a new administrative team and other staff, will help mitigate the impact of this incident on students, parents, and staff of the school."
I agree wholeheartedly, and I am asking for the support of everyone in our school community as we work to overcome the impact of these events and prepare for the new school year.
Theresa M. Flak, Ed.D.