Archive for Thursday, September 25, 2003

Students received help, state says

State won’t seek to revoke former principal’s teacher’s certificate

September 25, 2003

The Kansas Department of Education will not seek to pull the certification of former Glenwood Ridge Elementary School principal Tom Sack, state officials said.

"We've never looked at it as a loss of certification issue," said Alexa Pochowski, department of education assistant commissioner. "It would take a case with legal action for that. This is probably more of an ethics issue."

Tom Sack, the school's sole principal in its brief three-year history, resigned last week in wake of alleged improprieties in student assessment testing.

Kathy Toelkes, department of education spokeswoman, said students reviewed tests after the allotted time had expired.

"There seemed to be more than one answer and after the testing period was over, students were told to choose one," Toelkes said.

An exact number of students allowed to review their tests is undetermined. However, Basehor-Linwood School District officials estimated the number between 75 to 95 in a report to the department of education, Toelkes said.

School district officials, citing employee privacy issues, declined comment on the extent of the improprieties. Sack also had no comment this week concerning the allegations. Last week, he released a statement acknowledging mistakes in following the testing protocols.

The testing in question occurred last spring when Glenwood Ridge students took state assessments required by the No Child Left Behind Act. The elementary school received state standards of excellence in reading and math, two benchmarks used in monitoring annual yearly progress.

Following the revelation of testing improprieties, the state department of education invalidated the scores at Glenwood Ridge and informed school district officials that the school would be listed as not meeting progress standards.

Because the violations were self reported, the school district faces no additional sanctions or penalties as result of the testing miscues other than not meeting annual yearly progress, Pochowski said.

"That's a pretty heavy sanction in itself," she said.

Bill Hatfield, Basehor-Linwood School District assistant superintendent, said administrators would meet and discuss "the importance of following testing guidelines." There is not believed to be a widespread problem in testing in the district, Hatfield said.

"We're going to visit with the administrative team and review the testing administration guidelines," Hatfield said. "We'll obviously make sure all procedures are followed."

Pochowski said state education officials do not view the incident at Glenwood Ridge as commonplace for testing practices throughout the state. Also, the case should not be used as condemnation of the No Child Left Behind Act, she added.

"There are no more of these (incidents) than we've had in the past," Pochowski said. "There are 1,600 buildings and 400,000 students in the state of Kansas. I don't see a big change. We've relied on the integrity of educators in this state and we'll continue to do so."

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