April 6, 2012
On March 6, a sixth-grade math teacher at Horizon Community Middle School came forward and reported that an actual test item that appeared on the sixth-grade Math TCAP test had unknowingly been used for practice in the classroom. The teacher told school administrators the question came from a packet of practice questions found in a copy room.
The district immediately notified the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and turned over the packet of practice questions the teacher used. The CDE requested that the district wait until statewide TCAP testing was completed on April 13, 2012 before notifying parents of the incident.
Further investigation revealed that a similar set of questions had been used in another sixth-grade classroom by a different teacher. That teacher told administrators the questions had been found in a storage room used for math instructional materials.
Because there is no way to determine how many students may have had an advantage using actual test questions, even unwittingly, during practice, the CDE has notified the district that all of the sixth grade math tests at Horizon will be invalidated and recorded as “no scores.”
School officials will use other tests and performance indicators to help teachers establish each sixth-grade student’s academic progress in math. Sixth-grade students will still receive TCAP scores in reading and writing.
“We are deeply troubled by these events,” Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Mary Chesley said. “We believe this is an isolated incident. Our teachers are aware of, and routinely demonstrate, the integrity and ethics associated with all assessments. This is evidenced by our teacher who immediately self-reported the use of the test question when it was recognized on the test students took.”
The district is working with the Colorado Department of Education and will continue to share with them any additional information we may obtain.
“It is critical that students understand that they have done nothing wrong,” Chesley said. “They studied, worked hard and took the test in good faith.”