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Mistake to Force Re-Testing

By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE — Sullivan West Central School board members learned last week that over 100 test forms were accidentally destroyed in June – thanks simply to a misplaced sticker.
Assistant Superintendent David Rowley uncomfortably admitted to the board at its regular meeting Thursday that human error caused all the 8th grade math and the Jeffersonville-Youngsville portion of the 4th grade math assessment exams to be sent to a destruction center in Utica rather than a collection center in Ulster County.
“The wrong address was put on the box [of completed answer sheets],” Rowley explained. “Obviously, this was not a good thing.”
In June, more than 100 4th and 8th grade students at all three of Sullivan West’s schools took the assessment test, designed to gauge students’ understanding of math and point out areas where academic improvement is needed.
Per state guidelines, test booklets are supposed to be sent to a facility in Utica, where they are destroyed so that similar questions can be used in the future without fear of students or teachers having advanced knowledge of such questions.
That happened as it should, according to Rowley.
But the address label for the Utica facility was mistakenly affixed to a box containing the answer sheets students had filled out, which are supposed to be sent to Ulster-Orange BOCES to be collected and compiled for annual reports on the results of the tests.
The Narrowsburg and Delaware Valley sheets from the 4th grade tests did make it to BOCES, said Rowley. J-Y’s didn’t, and neither did the entire 8th grade sheets from all three schools – around 130 forms in all.
By the time school personnel realized this, he explained, the destruction center had already accomplished its task.
The result of this mistake?
“The only problem it presents . . . is that we won’t be able to compare our results with other schools,” he remarked, referring to the published report the state will put out in the future. “As far as assessing, we can do that with another test.”
Jeff 4th graders and all three schools’ 8th graders will be required to take another different assessment test in September, when they are in 5th and 9th grades, respectively. Since the school year will have just begun, the results should be indicative of the prior year’s instruction and knowledge retention.
As for the mistake itself, Rowley explained that “this is not the only school [in the state] this happened to.” Still, he was adamant about future such occurrences.
“It will definitely not happen again, I can tell you that,” he said.

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