03/15/10 — Students to retake writing exam

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Students to retake writing exam

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 15, 2010 1:46 PM

A wayward text message created an "unforeseen problem" for students taking the state's writing exam last week, and now two schools must retake the test Tuesday.

The N.C. Writing Assessment was administered to all 10th-grade students across the state March 9.

Students in two non-traditional schools in Wayne County -- Wayne School of Engineering and Wayne Early/Middle College High School -- have a later starting time.

"A student completing the test in one of the traditional high schools texted the writing prompt to a Wayne School of Engineering student as the student was riding the bus to school," explained Dr. Craig McFadden, associate superintendent for accountability, in a letter sent home to parents on Wednesday.

"Our investigation indicated that the prompt spread quickly among the students on the bus, which also carried Wayne Early/Middle College High School students. Once at school, the prompt was shared among other 10th-grade students."

The move, officials said, compromised the test.

After consulting with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, a "misadministration" was declared, which means the writing from last week's test will not be scored for students at the two non-traditional schools.

All 10th-grade students at WSE and WEMC will now be retested with an alternate prompt on Tuesday, McFadden said.

"It's not unusual to have misadministration," explained Ken Derksen, public information officer for Wayne County Public Schools. "Basically, students were finishing their tests as the non-traditional students were arriving to school. That's how the writing prompt was essentially shared. By exposing the writing prompt, it created a misadministration."

Measures have been taken to change the format going forward, Derksen said.

"In the future, what will happen is the traditional students will take the writing test on one day and the non-traditional students will take it on a different day (with a different prompt) so there's no chance of this happening again," he said.

Disciplinary action against a particular student was not taken, Derksen said, since it could not be determined where the initial text message originated.