Southwest Bakersfield

Students at 9 Kern County schools posted test pictures online

Students at 9 Kern County schools posted test pictures online

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Students at nearly 250 California schools, including nine in Kern County, posted photos on social-media websites while they were taking standardized tests, again prompting questions about testing security, state education officials said.

The most serious issues arose at 16 schools where photos were posted containing actual test questions or answers.

Kern County schools involved >>

Kern High School District spokesman John Teves said they want to find out more about the incidents, but they have a general idea what happened.

"At least one student used a cellphone to capture an image of some portion of the (Standardized Testing and Reporting) test," Teves told Eyewitness News. "Not necessarily the test question or answers, but just the cover or back page or something."

Teves said the tests were administered in April, and problems were found at five of the district's 25 schools. He said the district discovered the problems themselves, and reported them to the state.

"It's our understanding that this is not cheating," Teves said of the incidents. "This is showing off."

Three students in front of East High School on Friday afternoon agreed with that. They had all heard of students posting to social media during STAR tests, and figured the kids were trying to be cool.

"I saw it for myself on Facebook," East High senior Mariah Norris said. The post she saw included a hand gesture. "It had a hand sign, along with the scan code and his name on it for the test."

Senior Christina Fuentes had also heard about the incidents, and thinks it gives her school a bad image. She's also a little surprised it could happen.

"I know some teachers are incredibly strict with phones," Fuentes said. She described how some of her teachers have asked students to put their names on cellphones, and put them in a box until the test is over.

"I guess this year, maybe a teacher hadn't collected, or a student hadn't given it up," she said.

Teves also said students are not supposed to use cellphones during the school day, adding it would be tough to be sure no kids keep their cellphone during tests, but they want to prevent any of these violations.

"We'd like to learn how they did it, and learn how to better prevent it in the future," Teves said. He added there are a number of adults in the room when the test is given.

Again, all the local schools identified by the state have allegations of only images being posted, not test questions or answers.

"The state does not believe the infractions are serious enough that it compromised our scores," Teves said.

State Deputy Superintendent Deborah Sigman told reporters Friday that education officials remain confident that the STAR results are still valid.

"We take this very seriously and we want to make sure schools and administrators are appropriately monitoring test administrations," Sigman said.

The Sacramento Bee first reported Friday that results from those schools are now flagged with a red warning message next to their test results. It notes "a security breach involving social media" was identified at the school and states: "Caution should be used when interpreting these results."

This year's cases include slightly more schools than a similar discovery last year. Online postings involving test materials were found from students at 216 schools, with posts from 12 schools including legible test questions or answers.

The discovery delayed the release of last year's scores for two weeks. In response, the Department of Education enacted new security measures to monitor the use of electronic devices.

Sigman told Eyewitness News that the 16 schools with the more serious violations, their API could be invalidated. She said schools where images only were posted  would "likely" not be allowed to apply for academic awards.

In Kern County, Rosedale Middle School is listed as a campus where test images were posted. Rosedale superintendent Dr. John Mendiburu told Eyewitness News the incident was "minor," and his district had also discovered the situation and reported it to the state.

Mendiburu called the it a "violation of security policies."

Eyewitness News put out calls to the other local school districts on the state list, but was unable to reach any others on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, at the Kern High School District, Teves said they take the violations very seriously.

"The greatest beneficiary of these test results are the students themselves," Teves said. "They're going to help us help students succeed. And that's why it's unfortunate when things like this happen."

--

Parts of a story from The Associated Press were used in this report.
--

Kern County schools with test images posted on social media

Note: None of these included postings where test questions or answers were legible.

Mira Monte High
Arvin High
Stockdale High
East Bakersfield High
Foothill High
Rosedale Middle
Mojave Jr./Sr. High
Rosamond High
Tehachapi High