Report: Test security is inconsistent among states - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Report: Test security is inconsistent among states

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ATLANTA (KFVS/AP) - The federal government has no standards to protect the integrity of the achievement tests it requires in tens of thousands of public schools, and test security among the states is so inconsistent that Americans can't be sure those all-important test scores are legitimate.

That's according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report (bit.ly/R2smn3). The newspaper surveyed 50 state education departments and reported many states do not use basic test security measures designed to prevent cheating.

The newspaper also found nearly half the states make almost no attempt to screen test results for irregularities.

And, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch back in April, in Missouri there were more than 100 reports of standardized testing irregularities, including cheating, that poured into the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 and 2011.

According to the paper, of the $8.4 million Missouri spends to administer the Missouri Assessment Program, nothing is spent on test fraud detection services.

It also affirms that Missouri education officials rely on a system of "self-reporting" that assumes teachers and administrators will come to the state when they know of possible abuse.

Under this approach, the article explains that, even when allegations of testing irregularities are reported, the state and school districts rarely engage in the kind of rigorous statistical review many say is needed.

The article says that Missouri has also dismantled a program due to funding reductions that had sent inspectors randomly into schools to ensure tests are administered properly.

That article also acknowledged that Mo. education officials say looking for "red flags" would add thousands of dollars to the testing contract at a time when the state has cut department funding.

Meanwhile, the article in the Atlanta newspaper says that while the No Child Left Behind Act made standardized tests the cornerstone of national education policy, it offered little direction on test security.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told that newspaper that test security is the purview of state and local officials.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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