School officials are heaving a sigh of relief now that theyll be allowed to re-administer the eighth-grade writing assessment at Riverside Middle School.
But that doesnt get the school and a couple of teachers off the hook for the screw-up that invalidated the test in the first place.
The problem arose when school officials found out the question, or prompt, that students used to kick off essay-writing during the states Jan. 21-24 test had been given to them for practice a few days before.
Could it have been an honest mistake? Its possible.
In fact, a testing official with the state Board of Education says there are only a handful of questions used in the standardized test, and those are recycled every few years. That isnt a problem as long as different eighth-graders are taking the test each year. Because the prompts are so basic, its plausible that a teacher could come up with a similar one on his or her own while getting students to practice.
The real error, though, is that the teachers involved knew they had already used the question for practice; as soon as they broke the seal on the real tests, they should have called a halt to testing and reported the faux pas. Instead, it looks like they at first attempted to keep the whole incident quiet.
Its fortunate the eighth-graders will be able to retake the test and get an honest assessment of their writing skills - though undoubtedly many of them view having to take a test over again as punishment.
If theres punishment to be meted out, it should be directed at the educators - especially if they knew about the error and hoped no one would notice. And they should also divvy up the $1,500 it will cost taxpayers to pay for the retest.
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