Report: 8 serious cheating incidents in Nebraska testing

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A report shows that Nebraska public schools have reported eight serious cheating incidents by school personnel during statewide academic testing since 2010.

The Nebraska Department of Education report doesn’t offer specifics of the incidents, which it describes as security breaches. But it does give examples of what the agency considers a serious breach, including changing a student’s answers, directly coaching a student, or providing test answers to a student.

The Omaha World-Herald ( ) had sought detailed information on testing security breaches, which Education Commissioner Matthew L. Blomstedt denied on an exception to the state’s public records law. He said releasing the details of security incidents could discourage local officials from self-reporting violations.

“We rely, honestly, on folks being willing to submit that information,” he said.

Instead, the department released the report to the newspaper Tuesday that summarized incidents statewide over the years.

Students in the state’s public schools take math, reading, writing and science tests each year to see how well students are learning state academic standards, which reflect content that skills that state leaders believe a child should know at each grade level.

Blomstedt said the eight serious cases involved individuals acting alone in the classrooms. Of the eight, three from the 2014-15 school year are still under investigation. The people involved in the remaining cases have been disciplined.

A fourth-grade teacher in the Allen Consolidated Schools had her teaching certificate suspended for one year for fixing students’ writing on the fourth-grade writing test. In the other four cases, the people involved received public reprimands.

The report indicates that 107 security breaches have been reported since 2010. In addition to the eight serious cheating incidents, 29 were considered moderately serious, and 70 were classified as by the state as least serious.

Examples of a moderately serious incident include allowing students to use calculators when it’s not allowed or an adult reading a reading-test passage to a student. An example of a least serious incident is leaving up a wall poster describing the writing process in a testing room.

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