Teacher Cheats on Test; School to Lose API

Published Sept. 27, 2013 by Imperial Beach Patch.

A Mar Vista Academy math teacher unlawfully shared copies of a Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test with students and other teachers this spring, according to the California Department of Education (CDE).

As a result, the school will be ineligible for government-sponsored awards for the next two years and will lose its Academic Performance Index (API) score.

“Test preparation is prohibited by the state education code. Period,” said CDE Information Officer Tina Jung.

Mar Vista Academy was one of three schools in San Diego County to have their API score suspended, according to U-T San Diego.

The specific kind of violation found at Mar Vista Academy is known as a Flag 2.


“Only 27 school districts got Flag 2. We have 10,000 schools [in California]. The vast majority of the schools did just fine and really we should congratulate the schools who self-reported because they take the test very important and so do we,” Jung said.

The unnamed teacher shared copies of answers to an old STAR test with an Algebra I and a Math 7 teacher who shared the old test with their students, a STAR Program Irregularity Report Form states.

“Our office looked at over 30 pages of student study guides and found an overwhelming portion of the questions were exactly the same or very similar,” said the form filled out by Sweetwater STAR Coordinator Thomas Gray in April.

Teachers receive training every year on how to administer STAR tests and are required to sign an affidavit that says they agree to and understand security protocols.

The violation was brought to the state’s attention prior to STAR testing by school principal Thomas Winters after finding copies of the STAR materials in the teacher’s room on campus, Jung said. The state and Sweetwater Union High School District conducted investigations into the break in security protocol.

Materials were taken from the teacher’s classroom and district Information Technology staff confiscated her computer hard drive to search for possible additional violations.

Formerly known as Mar Vista Middle School, Mar Vista Academy changed its name at the start of the school as part of a restructure program that included a revamp of the school’s curriculum.

Last year Mar Vista High School almost had its academic performance score revoked after a student took a picture of their standardized test.

Several instances of security protocol being violated by sharing test documents via Facebook or other social media were found again this year, a trend that appears to be on the rise, Jung said.

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