now hiring

Filling test security position, city seeks to boost monitoring

After slashing its test monitoring program in the face of budget cuts this year, the Department of Education is now making plans to build it back up.

The department is looking to hire a new test security chief and triple the number of schools that it sends monitors into, according to a job ad that appeared online this week.  The person who formerly occupied the position is retiring this fall, department officials said.

In 2011, the city monitored 97 elementary and middle schools during state testing days as part of a program that was meant to deter staff from violating test security guidelines. In 2012, the program shrank and monitors visited just 37 schools, most of which were already under investigation for cheating.

Chancellor Dennis Walcott blamed the reduction on budget cuts. Now for the 2013 exams, the city is putting renewed attention on test security, according to details provided in the job ad.

Key responsibilities for the new test security chief include creating a “unique” list of at least 100 schools every year that would be monitored by about 50 people, the ad says. The manager would also recruit and train monitors, then disperse them to schools during the testing period.

The job also entails working on the expansion of the city’s distributed scoring pilot, an initiative that will end the practice of teachers grading their own Regents exams. All city schools will participate in distributed scoring starting with January’s Regents exams.

The city has defended its current practices as being not just sufficient, but going above and beyond what other urban districts in the state and across the country have in place. But some states, including North Carolina, and urban districts, including Philadelphia, have policies that ban teachers from proctoring their own exams.

“In terms of security, that’s a level of human infrastructure that removes incentive and adds a great deal of security,” said Mark Edwards, Superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina.

The state education department, in the process of overhauling its own test security practices, withdrew a proposal last year that would have similarly disallowed teachers from proctoring their own exams last year.

The state does not require districts to use test monitors, but a test security unit was created earlier this year to review and develop its policies. The unit’s new chief, Tina Sciocchetti, said she plans to increase the amount of monitoring that districts have on testing days.

A department spokeswoman said today the city goes “above and beyond what is required by the state.

The directive to strengthen test security has existed since at least June 2011, when President Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote to state superintendents and urged them to tighten security and ensure that all test score data was accurate. The scores are increasingly used to make high-stakes decisions about teachers’ job status, and cheating scandals had erupted in several urban school districts.

The job posting also suggests that the city might be interested in following up more efficiently when allegations of improprieties are made. It says the hire will be asked to improve a data system meant to “warehouse school testing allegation information.” The department so far initiates investigations into test practices only when allegations are lodged, not when schools’ data shows suspiciously erratic test scores.

In accordance with Mayor Bloomberg’s mandated job freeze against new city hires, the position is available only to internal Department of Education employees.

The entire job posting is below:

Job Description

Manager, Test Security and Special Projects
Tracking Code
Job Description

Please Note: Position only open to internal NYC Department of Education employees.

Position Summary: The New York City school system is the largest in the country, consisting of approximately 1. 1 million students, and 75, 000+ teachers in over 1, 700 schools. In January 2003, the Department of Education (DOE) launched Children First: A New Agenda for Public Schools in New York City, a multi-year reform effort aimed at significantly improving student achievement through effective teaching and learning. Accountability is an essential element of New York Citys education reform movement. This effort, led by the Division of Academics, Performance and Support, is supported by the Office of Assessment Operations through its focus on smooth assessment implementation, data integrity and test security.

Working with participating stake-holders, the Manager, Test Security and Special Projects will ensure the Office of Assessment has the comprehensive information necessary to support thoughtful decision-making on policy regarding State test security citywide. He/she will design and implement policies to heighten security of State assessments, including leading plans for NYC schools to execute State Education Department (SED) mandated testing policies while directing new initiatives to protect the integrity of State test administration and scoring. He/she will have access to confidential and secure information and must use it to strategically develop policies to ensure the integrity of State testing programs. Additionally, the Manager will support the expansion of a citywide distributed scoring policy for Regents exams and other State examinations, focusing on developing policy and system-wide solutions to address changes to SED requirements. Starting in SY 2012-2013 and in accordance with SED mandates, the DOE must implement a system in which no teacher grades a Regents examination from a student in his/her own school and will be adopting similar models for other examinations. Performs related work.
Reports to: Director, NYS Assessments

Direct Reports: Temporary project consultants, assigned project support staff, and team of 50+ central-staff during test monitoring periods.

Key Relationships:Work closely with the Program Managers and Director on the NYS Assessment team as well as Scan Center staff and Assessment Implementation Directors. Establish key relationships in other offices and Divisions, including the Office of School Support, the Division of Instructional and Information Technology, Communications Office, and Office of Labor Relations. Also build relationships with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI).

* Develop comprehensive policy and strategic plans to provide for monitoring the administration and/or scoring of all State assessments on an annual basis.

* Compile unique list of at least 100 testing schools to be monitored every administration.

* Plan outreach strategies to recruit monitors, and allocate monitors to assignments.

* Develop and execute training sessions to ensure monitors are prepared for assignments.

* Identify areas for growth in design and use of Test Security Database to effectively warehouse school testing allegation information; work with DIIT and other members of the State Assessment team to design business requirements and implement changes.

* Lead the development of policy for strategic inclusion of middle schools and planning for per-session activities in distributed scoring processes.

* Provide expertise regarding scorer eligibility options, teacher and staff contractual agreements and city per-session activities guidelines, as it relates to DOE policies around scoring and administration of State assessments.

* Direct the testing component of annual DOE high school academic audit, presenting key sampling and process options to senior leadership and design and implement the necessary operational plans.

* Work with involved parties, including external organizations, to determine methodology of audit sampling.

* Design and execute strategic plans for implementation of various State assessment programs, incorporating communication plans to disseminate relevant information to schools and networks.

* Create and/or update training materials for networks and schools to build capacity and understand scoring site operations and policies.

* Design and compile scorer assignment and attendance completion reports to track progress for regional and distributed scoring models.

* Compile reports related to testing allegations and monitoring visits, for senior leadership and in response to external requests, including press and/or FOIL requests.

* With team leadership, make recommendations to the Executive Director, Office of Assessment and Deputy Chief Academic Officer for Performance on test security policies, procedures and related internal and external communication strategies.
Qualification Requirements:

* Graduation from an accredited college with a baccalaureate degree and three (3) years of full-time, paid experience in education and administration in one or more of the following areas: special education, career and occupational education, curriculum, development, evaluation and testing, educational planning and educational statistics, one (1) year of which must have been in a supervisory/consultative capacity; or

* High school graduation or evidence of having passed an examination for a high school equivalency diploma plus seven (7) years of full-time, paid experience in education administration or in one or more of the areas listed in 1 above, one (1) year of which must have been in a supervisory/consultative capacity; or

* A combination of education and/or experience which is equivalent to the requirements in 1 and

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”