(Undated) - About 83,000 ISTEP+ tests could be invalidated and some teachers could be disciplined after a question is leaked on Facebook.
The Indiana Department of Education called the incident “the biggest, most wide-spread breach of ISTEP+ in the history of the assessment” in a memo sent to all superintendents and principals in the state Thursday.
“This memo outlines IDOE’s efforts during the past week to both mitigate the affect this security breach may have on students and also take action against the adults whose thoughtless actions put over 83,000 student test scores at risk,” a statement from the department said.
The education department was approached by teachers on March 1 after an English/Language Arts essay question on the 8th grade exam appeared on the social networking site and circulated by e-mail.
As a result of the leak, the 83,000 students who took the test will have their essay score suppressed.
“This means that although each of these students will still receive a statistically valid E/LA score, none of them will receive a Writing Applications score,” the department’s memo read.
The department is investigating to find the teachers or other school officials who leaked the question.
“The IDOE is working to determine the appropriate disciplinary action for the major misstep each individual made in violating the security of the Grade 8 ISTEP+ assessment and compromising student results. The IDOE will keep the public informed as the investigation concludes,” the department said.
In the question in question, students are asked what they would do if they participated in a scholarship program.
Some people have become upset and argue the question is being used to build support for school voucher programs, which has been a hot button issue in the state legislature this year.
The department responded in the memo by saying the development of questions to appear on this year’s test dates back to April 2009.
“In recent days, some members of the Indiana General Assembly and representatives of other special interest groups have publicly attacked the IDOE and have insinuated a political motivation behind the essay prompt at the center of this security breach. These individuals have wrongly suggested the essay prompt attempted to persuade 8th graders to support a legislative agenda item,” the memo continued.
Read the memo regarding the ISTEP+ breach at http://www.doe.in.gov/news/2011/03-March/securitybreach.html. It includes the leaked essay question. ISTEP+ testing ended May 9.