Janesville83°

Improper help invalidates students' WKCE results

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
December 24, 2009
— Eight Janesville elementary students got help they shouldn't have gotten while taking the state's standardized math test this fall.

The scores were invalidated, and the proctor who gave the help faced "consequences," Superintendent Karen Schulte said.


The proctor was supervising 11 students who were taking the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts math test. Eight of the scores were invalidated.


The proctor read some words in the test questions for the students, gave clues when students asked for help and "walked around the classroom and indicated" to students that they should redo some of their answers, according to a DPI incident report form.


The proctor also allowed some of the third-graders to use a number grid and multiplication tables.


Schulte said she believes the proctor made a mistake.


"I don't believe there was any malicious intent," and there was no intent to inflate the test results, Schulte said.


Schulte would not say whether the proctor was a teacher, an aide or an administrator. She said she feels obliged to protect his identity because of the personnel aspects of the incident.


Schulte would not say what consequences were imposed on the proctor, who still works for the district.


Schulte said she is not aware of any previous such violation ever occurring here.


Local officials did the right thing by notifying the state, said Jennifer Thayer, assistant superintendent for reading and student achievement at the Department of Public Instruction.


The state receives 15 to 25 such notifications each year.


Unless the security of the test is involved, the state doesn't do much more than tell the district to invalidate the scores.


Thayer said the state investigated but does not look into why a testing irregularity occurred.


"It's a matter of did it or didn't it. Beyond that, it's a district decision if they want to take preventive measures to make sure it doesn't happen again," Thayer said.


Each school is rated on how many students performed at the levels of "minimum," "basic," "proficient" or "advanced." Schools must make "adequate yearly progress" each year, based on students' performance, under rules that originated with the No Child Left Behind law.


Removing the eight scores probably will not make a big difference in Wilson's overall performance, Thayer said.


The proctor's actions might have been the right thing to do if the students were identified as having certain disabilities or were not native English speakers, but that was not the case, officials said.


Schulte said proctors are trained in test procedures.


"We do everything possible to make sure that people are right up to date with what they can and can't do," Schulte said.


Nevertheless, the incident has prompted the district to take a look at how it trains proctors and how soon that training occurs before the test.


The district also administers a test called Measures of Academic Progress, and the rules for that test differ, so that could be the source of the mistake, Schulte said.


The MAP test measures student progress better than the state test, local officials believe, so teachers will still have a good idea of where these students might need help, Schulte said.


Thayer said the state relies on local officials to let them know when questions arise about testing procedures, but it also does statistical analyses that would flag questionable results, such as everyone in a school answering all the questions the same way.


"Obviously, the state takes this very seriously, and the district takes it very seriously, so it is important that all the rules and regulations that are given to us, and there are many, that they're all followed," Schulte said.



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