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No more sneak peeks of state tests for Maryland teachers

豆瓣ing 2010-07-24
By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010


Security is crucial for standardized tests because the results can make or break a school's reputation. But until this year, many Maryland teachers were allowed an advance look at state exams.

State education officials said Friday that they had eliminated a policy that allowed elementary and middle school teachers to obtain a sneak peek of the tests in the days before they proctored them. Officials said they had grown increasingly concerned about test security.

The policy was eliminated after the 2009 exams, and there are no apparent cases in which the policy led to cheating on the tests, known as the Maryland School Assessments. The results from the 2010 exams were released earlier this week; students showed modest gains from last year.

But some testing experts raised their eyebrows at the practice. D.C. and Virginia officials do not allow their teachers to look at the tests before they are administered.

"We make changes all...
By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010


Security is crucial for standardized tests because the results can make or break a school's reputation. But until this year, many Maryland teachers were allowed an advance look at state exams.

State education officials said Friday that they had eliminated a policy that allowed elementary and middle school teachers to obtain a sneak peek of the tests in the days before they proctored them. Officials said they had grown increasingly concerned about test security.

The policy was eliminated after the 2009 exams, and there are no apparent cases in which the policy led to cheating on the tests, known as the Maryland School Assessments. The results from the 2010 exams were released earlier this week; students showed modest gains from last year.

But some testing experts raised their eyebrows at the practice. D.C. and Virginia officials do not allow their teachers to look at the tests before they are administered.

"We make changes all the time" to the testing security policies, said Leslie A. Wilson, Maryland assistant superintendent for accountability and assessment. She said the policy was intended to allow teachers to prepare for the most basic aspects of administering the test, such as when to distribute and collect answer sheets and calculators. The policy had also been in effect for a previous statewide exam, discontinued in 2002, that required much more preparation by proctors, she said.

Teachers who administered the tests -- which are given every year from third through eighth grade -- were allowed to sign up for an appointment to see the test booklet in a secure room after the tests were delivered to the school, usually seven to 10 days before the testing date, Wilson said. The school's designated testing coordinator was required to be in the room with them.

Teachers were not allowed to take pen and paper into the room and had to sign a nondisclosure agreement promising that they would not discuss what they saw with anybody else or change their teaching as a result, she said.

Wilson said "a couple" of teachers contacted the state education department in 2009 with complaints about certain questions before the test was administered. "We said, wait a minute, they're using this for a purpose they're not supposed to," she said.

One expert said the state was wise to end the practice.

"I'm not sure why the teachers themselves would need to be permitted to go into the room to read the test," said Linda R. Valli, an education professor at the University of Maryland. "It's almost like asking teachers to go in and be sure you've covered everything. If I were a teacher, I would feel negligent if I didn't take a look at the test, if it were being presented as a legitimate part of preparing."


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