FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Education Department Announces Reforms To Protect Integrity Of State Assessments
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today announced a series of reforms to protect the integrity of state assessments and Regents exams. The reforms were developed in response to Special Investigator Henry M. "Hank" Greenberg’s review of the State Education Department’s (SED) test integrity policies and procedures. Chancellor Tisch said the Greenberg review builds on test integrity measures adopted by the Board of Regents last fall.
"The integrity of state assessments cannot be compromised," Chancellor Tisch said. "The Regents have adopted a series of major education reforms, and the accuracy and fairness of our assessments and our Regents exams are important indicators of how those reforms are progressing. Students deserve tests that accurately measure what they’re learning. The Board of Regents took major steps last fall to protect the integrity of our assessments. Hank Greenberg has given us the roadmap to continue down that road."
"Test integrity is not a one and done issue; we have and will continue to review our integrity procedures," King said. "The Board of Regents is committed to ensuring the integrity of the state’s assessments. Hank Greenberg has done an extraordinary job identifying the problems in our test integrity practices. Now the rest is up to us. Teachers and students just want a level playing field, and our test integrity reforms will help keep that playing field level. Our goal is to make sure every student graduates from high school college- and career- ready. We need accurate and fair assessments to help measure our progress toward that goal."
Chancellor Tisch noted that the Regents approved several test integrity proposals last fall, including prohibiting teachers from scoring their own students’ state assessments. The Regents also sought $2.1 million in increased state funding in the 2012-13 state budget for test integrity measures including erasure analysis, data forensics, inter-rater reliability, and CBT pilot. Commissioner King said SED also began requiring scanning of Regents exams last summer.
Greenberg, who provided his services pro bono, was appointed by Commissioner King to the position of Special Investigator last November. His review identified a series of shortcomings in SED’s practices for receiving, reviewing and following-up on alleged test integrity violations. Tisch and King said the reforms address all the issues raised in Greenberg’s review. The reforms will be presented to the Board of Regents for its approval at the monthly Regents meeting early next week.
Commissioner King said a new Test Security Unit (TSU) will be created in SED. During the start up phase, TSU will report directly to the Executive Deputy Commissioner with assistance from both the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education and the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Professions.
TSU will be staffed with investigators and lawyers with law enforcement experience whose sole responsibility will be TSU functions.
Under the proposed reforms, TSU will:
- Create a mandatory reporting obligation, with sanctions for failure to report, for any school personnel who learns of an assessment security breach and require every adult involved in the administration and scoring of an assessment to take a security oath affirming that they understand their test security obligations and acknowledge potential sanctions for violations;
- Prioritize the investigation and discipline of educators and administrators who engage in test tampering;
- Support school districts and BOCES conducting investigations and aggressively oversee local integrity investigations and hold districts accountable for compliance with standards through public reporting and toughened sanctions;
- Institute a new state-of-the-art intake and data gathering system and increase the frequency and strategic use of data forensics;
- Develop written operational policies and procedures for the intake, referral, review, tracking and disposition of allegations and the investigation and prosecution of moral character cases and adopt a legally enforceable testing code of ethics, with tough rules, standards and sanctions;
- Conduct thorough review of existing security policies and procedures for state-administered assessments and implement enhancements of security protocols and conduct frequent and comprehensive audits at multiple levels to deter and prevent security breaches;
- Directly investigate cases involving serious allegations and more aggressively pursue Part 83 moral character cases where appropriate; and
Institute annual public reports of TSU’s activities, and increase school district and District Superintendent transparency to strengthen deterrence.
Greenberg has a long history of public service and extensive experience in both civil and criminal investigations. Prior to re-joining Greenberg Traurig LLP in January 2011, Greenberg served as Counsel to the New York State Attorney General under Andrew Cuomo. He has also served as Assistant United States Attorney, Chief Counsel for the New York State Department of Health, and Law Clerk to Judge Judith Kaye of the New York State Court of Appeals.
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