Big Bear, CA, October 30, 2012 – The State of California has removed 23 schools of their Academic Performance Index, or API, ranking and enforced consequences on those schools after they reported incidents of testing irregularities, or cheating, in administering standardized tests given to students last spring. One of the schools reporting to the State was Big Bear Valley’s Baldwin Lane Elementary. According to a Los Angeles Times report earlier this week, a series of individual schools reported incidents of isolated episodes being called “adult irregularities” in the testing process with students. By State standards, if at least 5% of students tested are affected, the school loses it’s API ranking along with becoming ineligible for any State or Federal awards programs, such as Blue Ribbon Schools and California Distinguished School’s Program, for 2012-13. Penalties do not include any financial commitment or fine. Additionally, these schools have been placed in program improvement by the State. As in the case with Baldwin Lane, the California Department of Education’s analysis of the situation showed that 8.11% of the students were affected by the impropriety of one teacher in this isolated incident. According to Tim Larson, Director of Education Services and Personnel for the Bear Valley Unified School District, the District self reported the incident to the California Department of Education, which becomes public record. Typically, an incident such as this comes to light when a student tells a parent or another teacher of events that took place during testing that can be anything from helping students correct mistakes to preparing them with actual test questions. The offence at Baldwin Lane involved one individual who, as of the end of the last school year, is no longer an employee of the District. The API is a measure for the general public to understand if their schools are making progress. The combination of all BVUSD school’s current API, excluding Baldwin Lane, is currently at 803 out of 1000. Teacher’s roles in administering standardized testing include guidelines that are specific and clear. Superintendent, Kurt Madden, tells Kbear that they are dealing with this in a professional manner and are putting mechanisms in place so that this never happens again.
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