Briefs: Online test security breach at DSST

About 35 sixth-graders at DSST Stapleton learned some hard lessons about cheating last month.EdNews Briefs logo

The students were caught worming their way into an online instant assessment program in science and English (called “mastery checks”) and changing answers so their teachers would believe they had mastered subjects.

The caper went on for about a month, DSST Principal Bill Kurtz said. And a few students at the DSST College View campus did it too.

The assessment system, developed by the charter school network and Prometheum Technologies, apparently had a breach that allowed students to access the information multiple ways through various open screens. Once discovered, the holes were closed immediately and students not only faced in-school suspension but had to come in on two professional development days to make up the assessments as their buddies enjoyed time off, Kurtz said.

The assessments are routine and allow students to document their mastery of subjects immediately following a lesson, Kurtz said.

“From a learning perspective, it was not a huge event because we could track what happened,” Kurtz said. “From a values perspective… it is a bit troubling.”

Furthermore, DSST is known for its assessments of students’ “core values,” such as integrity.

Let’s just say, values scores for that semester for a certain set of sixth-graders probably won’t be so great.

Panel on making schools healthier

LiveWell Moms and the Colorado Action for Healthy Kids Parent Network are hosting a “Lunch and Learn” for parents who want to make healthy changes at their children’s schools. The event, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on April 18 at the Denver Children’s Museum, will feature a panel of school wellness experts and parent volunteers who have helped improve nutrition and physical activity in schools. Participants will be able to share their experiences and ask the panelists for advice. Lunch and childcare will be provided. Reservations are required. Register here.

Stipends available to launch Fuel Up and Play 60

Colorado Action for Healthy Kids and the Western Dairy Association are giving out 10 $500 stipends to parents interested in starting Fuel Up and Play 60 at their child’s school. The program is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program that encourages kids to eat nutrient-rich foods and get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Fuel up to Play 60 was created by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council in collaboration with the United State Department of Agriculture. For details about the stipends, contact Stephanie Ekoniak at


What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.