Unfortunately, because the results are now more important than ever, there is also an increase in temptation for some of our educators to cheat. Lots of people know it. Many honest people involved with education are concerned about it. A lot is being done about it.
So, be advised: there are dramatic changes in Kentucky testing security programs. These are going to make it a lot harder for cheaters to get away with their harmful activities.
Here are some messages for school staffers:
• Be sure you know the rules and follow them.
• If you are tempted to cheat, best forget that.
• If you are being pressured to cheat by others, better turn those pressuring you in. Otherwise, you both could wind up in real trouble.
• If you are responsible for test security, take that job seriously. Just ask two staffers from Perry County who didn’t keep ACT tests secure there. Both got certificate action for failing to keep tests secure from cheaters.
If you cheat on state assessments in Kentucky, the chances have never been better that you are going to land in hot water.
There is plenty of interest in tightening test security in Kentucky. Aside from the Kentucky Department of Education, interested people include the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Education Accountability, which just posted Research Report #385 on “Kentucky State Testing for Education Accountability: An Examination of Security-related Threats to Making Valid Inferences and Suggested Best Practices.”
That’s a rather technical name for a report which looks at the ways cheating can corrupt test scores and then makes suggestions about how to increase the likelihood that cheaters will not be successful.
Among the material in the LRC report is this listing of best practices for statewide assessment programs. Some of the items, shown in plain typeface, were already in place when the old assessment program, the now defunct Kentucky Core Content Tests, was in use. Other items, shown in bold italics, were not present in the past. But, that is changing.
• Outside audits of test security practices;
• Clear focus on test administration parameters;
• Never-ending protection of content;
• Employment of strong test user agreements;
• Development of plans and systems to vigorously pursue rule violators;
• Plans and systems for forensic analyses of test- and assessment-related data; and
• Development of comprehensive security breach plans of action.
I discussed the testing security situation with experts in Frankfort, and several of the items above in bold italics are either already included in the state’s new testing contract or are included in a separate contract with a separate testing security firm hired to tighten up test security here (that advice even gets a detailed as changing physical security locks on doors!).
In fact, under the new testing program none of the items in the bullet list above are being ignored.
Still more is happening. One example: no-notice inspection teams are showing up unannounced during testing to see that all goes according to proper procedure.
As I have pointed out before, both here in Kentucky and across the nation there seems to be a lot of attention focused on test cheating, especially cheating by school staff.
For sure, school staff will now be held more accountable than ever before for those test results. And, there will be more action to identify and punish those who abuse the system.
Such emphasis is ultimately good for kids and for all our state’s citizens because everyone benefits when our school system educates all students well. A lot of people want to know when schools do well and when they need assistance. At the same time, people across the nation and here in Kentucky don’t want cheaters to cloud that picture, and those citizens and governmental leaders are getting less tolerant of that happening.