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

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.