Friday, May 01, 2015

Beacon Hill Testing Scandal Update

Update: the district sent me a press release later in the day that I just read.
The investigation has found several breaches of MSP testing protocols by three current or former Beacon Hill staff; the principal, the former assistant principal and one support teacher. The assistant principal no longer works in the district. The breaches were a failure to follow test booklet security protocols, including improper storage of the test booklets and the reading of completed student test booklets.

Science MSP testing using hand-written test booklets will be delivered to Beacon Hill next week. To ensure the integrity of the testing process while the investigation continues, the two school staff found to have breached testing protocols have been placed on administrative leave.
Former Beacon Hill principal Dr. Susie Murphy will serve as interim principal for the remainder of the school year effective immediately. The Beacon Hill incident appears to be isolated. No other school has shown similar issues.  Our state testing is transitioning to a new computer based assessment process that will be much more secure. The loss of these 2014 tests results does not impact Beacon Hill student grades or future program placement opportunities, including advanced learning. Fourth grade students are being individually reviewed and manually placed in their appropriate level of math next year. In addition to helping with fifth grade math placement, MSP tests are typically used in conjunction with other measures for accountability reporting, school goal setting, teacher and principal evaluations, and year-end program analysis, all of which do not directly affect individual students.
Security measures:
State testing is transitioning to a new computer based process that will be much more secure. Prior to the discovery of the Beacon Hill test results last year, the district was already in the process of an internal audit of reviewing controls on paper test materials and chain of custody to ensure integrity is maintained in all testing procedures district wide. For the few remaining paper-based state tests (e.g., MSP science, Algebra EOC, Biology EOC), new changes have been implemented including: 
· A shorter ‘appointment window’ for completed tests to be returned to the district Assessments /Central office; within one to three days after the completion of testing. · A new audit checklist used by district administrators to spot check schools before, during, and after testing to ensure all tests are secure and protocol is followed during testing including a new District Security Document that records who had tests distributed to them and how long they were in possession of the tests for the test date.· All principals and individuals involved with testing have received enhanced formal training, which includes specific instruction surrounding the chain of custody.· An enhanced documentation form from schools to district Assessments/Central prior to testing detailing limited access locked storage location of tests, including a list of individuals with master keys. 
In addition, plans are under way for next school year to provide each school with a portable locked storage unit that can be located in a secure room with limited access. Only one key for the portable locker would be available to the School Test Coordinator.  No other staff would have access.  Beacon Hill has already been provided a locked storage unit.    
This is good information and I am glad to see the district is going to have more strict procedures.

However, I find it troubling that the district is not explaining what comes next for those involved.  It is not clear if the investigation is completed.  If it is, then are those who did not follow those protocols to be exited from the system?  What is the penalty for breaching the rules (especially in a case where not only were the rules broken but what followed was a clear cheating scandal).  Either those two people have to out whoever DID change those test booklets or bear the brunt of any discipline.

That said, whatever discipline that may occur would be far less than a trial (as we saw from the Atlanta cheating scandal.)

end of update.

The district had a press conference - announced at about 3:30 pm today for a 4:15 pm press conference - that I didn't make.  The Times did and here's what they had to say:

Six months after Seattle Public Schools started investigating test-tampering at Beacon Hill International School, officials have put the school’s principal and a teacher on leave, but say they have no conclusive evidence about who doctored the exams.

The Times does not name the principal or teacher, probably because no one has been charged with anything.  My understanding is that the principal at the time got promoted to a post at another school.

The principal and the teacher, they said, were among those who breached testing rules, along with a third employee who has since left the district.

So it appears that they know testing rules were broken but not exactly who doctored the test booklets.

I wish I could have been there but that was late notice (and I think by design).


Anonymous said...
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Curtis said...

The district has been unable to discipline any administrator since Maria brought in Brent Jones and he brought in Cerman Sebree to do dummy coverups on significant crimes.

Its how the cheatoing culture continues.

Dave said...

Curtis is spot on.

There exists a line with in the District; above which, administrators can do no wrong and virtually any behavior is acceptable. Below that line, workers can (and are) disciplined for "the look on their face". Denizens of the Cheating Culture call that some bizarre version of accountability.

This is how millions of dollars simply disappear, Budget Managers leave the country, principals are found renting out buildings and pocketing the cash, etc. NONE ARE EVER DISCIPLINED. Investigations are always inconclusive but we all have a good idea of the facts.

This is why the cadre inside headquaters was so agast when Silas Potter was revealed. Somebody actually paid a price!

MGJ, Kennedy and the rest, slipped away in the night. Some were brought back by Banda (Jones of Human Resources) and hire friendly whitewash artists to do "inconclusive" investigations like the recent costly one we see at Beacon Hill.

Cycle of life at SSD yet some board members pretend things are getting better. NOT HARDLY. Worse by the day.

Anonymous said...

as the wife pointed out - interesting how this news dropped on May! Day!!, when the anti-whatevers burn down 1/2 of Queen Anne & Capitol Hill in The!! Riots!!!.

[or ... wait ... they burned a garbage can, too ...]


RDPence said...

Announcing a press conference with 45 minutes' notice on a Friday afternoon. Classic example of trying to hide the news, hoping few will notice it over the weekend.

I still want to know how the "investigation" at Beacon Hill School was conducted. Did all the possible suspects get interviewed, and were those interviews conducted under oath? Were the interviews recorded with by audio device or a court reporter? My gut tells me all these questions are likely to be answered in the negative, but hope springs eternal.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. But when do we get the handcuffs? They got handcuff in Atlanta, why not Seattle? In Atlanta, cheating on tests was the "worst crime ever!!!!" What is the race of the "perpetrators"? Maybe that is the difference.

(People ARE on administrative leave. That is SOMETHING.)


Anonymous said...

The principal should be held accountable for the test tampering and fired at the end of her contract never to return to Seattle Public Schools (many teachers have been fired or let go for far less). If her contract ends in June, that should be it - she should not be retained or paid another dollar from the tax payers. Get tough, be tough, and this type of behavior will cease. It is time for Seattle Public Schools to keep the tax payers' trust and rid the district of those who think they are above the law or policies. The result of this corruption is that all of the teacher test prep, all of the students' test prep and ultimately the students' efforts were all for naught as their test results were thrown out. So in turn lets throw out the principal and others!

Anonymous said...

School staff are to be role models for students under their charge. What happens when students are caught cheating on exams? They are given a failing grade! So it is time to give the same grade for school staff who cheat. The staff responsible for this tragedy should be given a failing grade. They failed their students, disregarded their responsibilities and have caused a great amount of effort and expense for nothing. I hope the district is kicks out the bad apples.

Anonymous said...

As a graduate of the Seattle Public School system, I am appalled at what the staff have done to the reputation of Beacon Hill International School. How can the students, parents and staff have any confidence in the leadership that allowed this to happen. How can the students take any other test they may be forced to take seriously if the District makes no correction in their staffing. Students should always be the first priority. All Decisions made should be based on what is best for kids. What is best for kids in this case is to "right" the ship. Change captains, make a course correction, regain confidence and trust that has been lost.

Anonymous said...

It seems simple. Find out who are the staff members poised to benefit from the test tampering. Therein lies the motivation. In the case, follow the money. A part of a principal's bonus is based on an increase in student assessment scores. Hmmm...It seems so simple why this happened.