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Update on Test Security Investigation Findings and Recommendations

June 5, 2001
[The following is the text of a memorandum sent yesterday (Monday, June 4) to the Board of Education from Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, as an update on the findings and recommendations from the investigation of test security violations at Silver Spring International Middle School. A summary report on the findings and recommendations is available as a pdf file at the link below.]

MEMORANDUM

To: Members of the Board of Education

From: Jerry D. Weast, Superintendent of Schools

Subject: Additional Findings and Recommendations on the Extended Investigation of Test Security Violations at Silver Spring International Middle School

On May 8, 2001, I provided the Board of Education with a report on the findings and recommendations of an investigation into test security violations at Silver Spring International Middle School regarding the administration of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS) in March 2001. Since the initial report, the investigation was extended to address new information revealed as part of the continuing inquiry. I have reviewed the attached report from Dr. James A. Williams, deputy superintendent of schools, on the additional findings of the extended investigation, and I intend to move forward with his recommendations.

There are two new recommendations that affect personnel from the school as a result of the extended investigation:

* First, an assistant principal who had been recommended for reassignment to a teaching position now has been recommended for dismissal and the permanent revocation of his teaching certificate by the state superintendent of schools.

* Second, two teachers who had been placed on administrative leave pending a possible suspension for the remainder of the school year will be returned as teachers at the school with a recommendation for a reprimand for knowingly accepting a copy of the secured national state-mandated test.

These recommendations were changed after it was determined that the assistant principal failed to provide training, failed to give teachers advanced notice of information in the non-disclosure agreement for test administration, and provided misinformation to investigators. Nonetheless, the two teachers have responsibilities to read and understand under any circumstances the obligation they undertake when signing a non-disclosure agreement form.

The other personnel actions remain as reported previously. The mathematics team leader was recommended for dismissal and the loss of her teaching certificate for five years, and two other teachers were recommended earlier for suspension of employment and suspension of teaching certifications by the state superintendent of schools for one year. The principal was recommended to be reassigned to an assistant principal position. Three other teachers have received reprimands, and one teacher has received a letter of direction. In addition, a central office administrator has been recommended for a reprimand for her role in helping the principal to minimize the testing violations and delaying the appropriate report to the principal's supervisor.

Since this incident was made public three weeks ago, there has been considerable public comment about the ethical and moral conduct of the staff members implicated in the test security violations. I understand the hurt and anger this incident has caused the school community. Nonetheless, I believe very strongly, as I said initially, that the issue of test security and ethical conduct goes to the heart of our professional responsibilities as educators and caretakers of the public's trust. Violations of normal expectations for confidentiality of testing materials and lax supervision of testing procedures undermine the public's confidence in the ability of our school system to ensure objectivity of the assessment process.

I will continue to keep you informed about the individual disciplinary actions and the decisions by the state regarding teaching certification, the invalidation of the affected test results, and imposition of a state fine to recover costs associated with replacing the test statewide.

[The summary report on the findings and recommendations of the extended investigation is available as a pdf file at the link below.]

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