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Recovery School District in New Orleans promises tighter testing security

High-stakes testing security in New Orleans is undergoing an overhaul this year following recommendations laid out by a task force commissioned by the Recovery School District (RSD).

The project is part of RSD Superintendent John White’s 100 Days initiative that called on education, youth and parent groups to outline improvements the district could implement.

The results are boiled down to a list of 12 commitments RSD is undertaking towards its goal of placing all students “on track to graduate from college or attain a professional career.” The 12 points appear in the report What Will It Take?.

Beginning the week of October 24, a pilot program with strict security standards will be first introduced during retests for the Graduation Exit Exam for 10th- and 11th-grade students, with plans to later expand the pilot district-wide.

The new procedures were spelled out in a press statement e-mailed to The American Independent:

  • Establishment of a centralized location where school test coordinators will prepare test materials;

While test coordinators previously conducted inventories, verified materials, and coded answer sheets on site at each school, the new process calls for the first two tasks to be performed at a central location under the supervision of the district test coordinator, thereby reducing the amount of time test booklets and answer sheets are housed in school buildings and making it easier for schools to order additional materials.

To facilitate proper coding, test answer sheets will be delivered from the central location to each school site five days before testing. And to give schools time to arrange materials prior to testing, test booklets will be delivered to each school two school days before testing. During this five-day time period, when test booklets and answer sheets are stored at schools, the RSD staff will also make random, unannounced visits to monitor security procedures.

  • Additional training for school test coordinators around test security procedures;

School test coordinators will receive additional training on the RSD’s strict security procedures and how to properly handle test materials while booklets and answer sheets are stored on the school site. In addition, the RSD will implement a new “train the trainer” model for all school test coordinators to ensure that training of school-level personnel is consistent and proper.

  • Enhanced training for school personnel regarding test administration and security;

Previously, test coordinators have been solely responsible for the presentation of information to school personnel regarding test administration and security. To place emphasis on the consequences of test security violations and to communicate a clear and concise message regarding test administration and security, the RSD’s testing coordinator will present a webinar to all school-based personnel.

  • Additional training for district personnel prior to in-person monitoring of all schools;

District personnel are currently required to visit schools within the RSD at least one time during each testing period. During this visit, they are required to inspect and monitor all established security procedures, ensure there are no security violations, and submit a full report on the fidelity of all security procedures at the end of every visit. All district procedures and reporting forms are being updated to provide more robust instructions on the roles and responsibilities of a test monitor. District personnel will receive additional training on enhanced methods for test security monitoring.

In a prepared statement, White said, “[W]e cannot allow our students’ extraordinary successes on state tests to be jeopardized by even small errors in test administration. This new process is just one adjustment we can make to minimize the possibility of adult error.”

Previously, The American Independent reported on testing improprieties committed at schools in Louisiana. Between 2007 and 2010, 78 testing violations were recorded in RSD schools by state department of education inspectors during the spring testing season. There were 259 violations across the state in total during those years.

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