State explains “testing anomalies” at local school

By Beth Sergent

December 31, 2013

LEON — The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has gone into more details regarding what has been described as “testing anomalies” on the Spring 2013 West Virginia Educational Standards Test (also known as the WESTEST) results at Leon Elementary.

As recently reported, a press release from the Mason County Board of Education and Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, with approval from the WVDE, was sent to the Point Pleasant Register a little over a week ago regarding what was described as those “testing anomalies” and a “breach of testing procedures.”

To be clear, in the release, Dickens said the responsibility for the “breach of testing procedures” was likely limited to the actions of a single employee and was not the product of widespread misconduct. Dickens has had no comment about the alleged employee, citing protecting the right of disclosure for personnel. When asked, Liza Cordeiro, a spokesperson with the WVDE said, “At this point it would be inappropriate to share personnel details.”

Cordeiro also confirmed the investigation is still open and that this was “normal in case more information is received later.”

As for what exactly the “breach of testing procedures” means, Cordeiro explains below.

“In this particular case the testing vendor, CTB, contacted the WVDE for an unusual high number of wrong to right erasures. The WVDE Office of Assessment looked at the test data and determined that something was curious. The WVDE then traveled to Mason County and conducted interviews. As in all investigations, once all the information is gathered, then that information is presented to the State Superintendent. In consultation with others, the decision is made to invalidate the test scores because it is believe that those test scores are not an accurate representation.”

In addition, Cordeiro explained the result of the WVDE joint investigation with Mason County regarding test scores at Leon Elementary resulted in WESTEST 2 scores in all four content areas (Math, RLA, Science and Social Studies )being invalided. While all four WESTEST 2 content areas were invalidated, only the math and RLA scores are included in the school designation calculations.

“Thus with the math and RLA scores invalidated, it is highly unlikely that Leon Elementary will maintain the ‘Success’ school designation,” Cordeiro said.

Students who attended Leon and took the 2013 WESTEST 2 will not see any penalties, the 2014 student growth report will not reflect the 2013 WESTEST 2 scores. There is no real impact on any county rating because they did not receive an overall “all schools rating” this year, Cordeiro explained.