The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently conducted a nationwide study to catalog and assess the test security procedures and allegations of cheating on state administered assessments. The study was meant to determine where states were using leading practices in test security to prevent irregularities, what oversight states used in ensuring school officials are following test security procedures, how often that oversight lead to the identification of cheating, and finally, on what resources are school officials relying for assistance and what further assistance would be useful to them.
According to the study, all 50 states reported that they use at least half or more of the leading practices for test security provided by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Association of Test Publishers (ATP). However, states reported variations in which aspects of the leading practices they used – according to the summary of the report, “22 states reported having all of the leading practices for security training, but four states reported having none of the practices in this category.” Additionally the report states that oversight procedures lead to 40 states reporting allegations of cheating, 33 states confirming at least one instance of cheating and 32 states reporting canceled, invalidated, or nullified test scores as a result of cheating.
Many school officials reported feeling vulnerable to cheating at some point during testing, but study concludes that implementation of strong policies and procedures for testing security and oversight could go a long way towards preventing testing irregularities. Since state assessments are used to make key decisions regarding low performing schools, testing integrity is vital to ensuring that students and schools most in need of resources are identified. Since the GAO released its report, the U.S. Department of Education released a report detailing best practices in test security.