Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Testing Scandal In Long Island: Why Wasn't This Prevented?

An assistant principal of a Long Island, New York high school has been arrested and charged with giving his son the answers to the Regents' global history exam. This assessment is one of the Regents' Examinations that are taken by high school students in New York State. Students must pass five multiple-choice examinations in order to receive a Regent's Diploma:
Isben Jeudy, 40, was released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead before Judge Valerie Bullard, said a spokesman for state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

According to Spitzer and state Education Commissioner Richard Mills, Jeudy was responsible for keeping the questions and answers to the year-end final exams secure as part of his duties as assistant principal at Jericho High School. The exams are administered by the state Board of Regents - the overseer of school policy.

Last Tuesday, an official at John Glenn High School in Elwood - about 20 miles east of Jericho - discovered Jeudy's son, Jerrell Jeudy, 16, had blue writing on his hand while taking the same global history Regents exam, Spitzer and Mills said in a joint statement.

A closer look by a teacher overseeing the exam found the teenager's hand allegedly had "an exact copy of the answers to approximately 35 questions" from the multiple choice portion of the test, the statement said.

Glenn school officials then contacted Henry Grishman, superintendent of the Jericho schools, who found that the global history Regents exam answer key had been unsealed. Under normal circumstances, the answer key is not to be opened until after the exam is over; in this case, that would have been several hours later, officials said.

Grishman said a letter is being sent to all parents of high school students in Jericho, telling them that the "incident will not compromise the validity of any of our June Regents examinations."
If Jeudy is adjudicated guilty of the allegations, he will pay a very heavy professional price for his alleged misjudgment in addition to whatever legal sanctions are imposed by the court.

He was to begin a new job as principal at the Uniondale School District, and regardless the legal outcome, his career prospects will probably be damaged.

Which would be tragic if he is innocent of the charges.

Of course the effect on Jeudy's son will be traumatic, as it is highly likely that he will mistakenly assume that he was responsible for ending his father's professional career. This would be a heavy burden for any young person to bear.

Let's hope that this is an isolated case, and that there were no other testing irregularities.

One question that needs to be asked is this: Why would the answers to such a high-stakes assessment be in the unsupervised custody of any school site or district administrator? Common sense would seem to indicate that those who would have an inherent interest in an examination (such as school site/district administrators) should never be in the possession of test answers.

The exams could be sent to one (or several) centralized locations for scoring. The establishment of such a protocol should be relatively easy to operationalize. Considering the high-stakes nature of these examinations, security should be a priority. Frankly, we are puzzled why this hasn't been done before.

This whole sad episode (and possibly others that have gone unreported) should have been avoided.
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