The Healdsburg Unified
School District is investigating possible testing irregularities that they
believe may have negatively skewed the results of test scores released
Administrators believe an undetermined percentage of students at Healdsburg Junior High School may have been administered the wrong math section of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test, Superintendent Jeff Harding told Patch.
"We're investigating what we think to be an error that led to a group of students taking the wrong test," Harding said.
"We're not exactly certain what happened but we have reason to think the wrong test was given to students and we're sorting out the details."
The possibly-tainted numbers could explain a precipitous decline in the school's test scores - a 34-point decline from 796 in 2012 to 762 this year.
HJSH's test score decline was the biggest drop district-wide. The district's overall test score numbers were down this year after five consecutive years of improved test scores.
Healdsburg Charter was the only district school that showed improved test scores with an 841 score - a five-point bump over last' year's 836.
"We're working with the (California State Department of Education) to unravel the impact" of that possible testing irregularity, Harding said.
"We think that's a possible explanation of the decline, especially at the junior high."
Harding said the district hopes to learn from the investigation "what impact it had (on test results) and how to avoid it in the future."
That future is unlikely to include STAR tests - regardless of the results of the investigation, Harding said, noting all signs pointing to the state implementing the Smarter Balanced Assessment next year.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment moves away from " paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice tests to online assessments that measure college- and career-ready standards," according to its website.
Harding expressed skepticism of what the STAR tests actually measures, noting that his assessment applies to the five straight years of improved test scores as it does to this year's decline.
"Standardized tests out of Sacramento test our students in a very narrow scope of learning objectives, so they're an indication of how well we're doing but just an indication and just a narrow indication," he said.