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Waianae kids to retake
Only a small portion of the standardized state test administered at Waianae Intermediate School was compromised by improper materials provided to students beforehand, state officials said yesterday.
Department of Education officials said they have completed an investigation into review sheets, which contained actual test questions and answers. The review sheets were given to students just prior to the test.
The officials refused to give other details on the incident, including who was responsible for the review sheets and what disciplinary actions will be taken. A news release said only that "personnel matters including corrective actions will be handled by the Superintendent's Office."
Students at the seventh- and eighth-grade school will be required to retake sections of the reading portion of the Hawaii State Assessment, the measure of a school's compliance with federal requirements on academic progress in math and reading.
Education officials are talking with Harcourt Assessment Inc., the national testing company that developed Hawaii's exam, about getting an alternate version of the compromised test section, said Robert McLelland, director of the department's planning and evaluation office.
"We're trying to decide which version of the test we can get to students and how quickly," he said.
He said a testing date has not been determined. The department requires all schools to complete the tests by April 30.
DOE state officials will monitor the re-administration of the tests, which should take "no more than two days," the department's news release said.
However, McLelland said the repeat testing should take only about an hour. The extensive HSA is typically spread out over nine to 12 testing days.
It was the first reported instance of apparent cheating on the HSA, a source of high stress these days for teachers, students and school administrators alike.
Persistent low scores on the test puts a school at risk of being taken over by the state and reorganized.
Waianae Intermediate is one of 24 schools set for such a "restructuring" in the 2005-06 school year.
The matter surfaced last week when someone claiming to be a school employee sent anonymous letters to media outlets containing copies of the review sheets. The department soon halted testing at the school.
The anonymous letter said the review sheets were "typed up, reproduced and handed out by representatives of the (school's) administration, not by a classroom teacher."
Providing students with any prior knowledge of specific test questions is forbidden.
Yesterday's news release said the school's test scores, available in the fall, will be monitored for any "unusual performance gains."
Board of Education Chairman Breene Harimoto said he has asked schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto to make a full report to the board on the investigation and that he hopes details can be made public.
"We'll need to check how much we can let out, because personnel issues are involved," he said, "but the public deserves to know what happened."