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January 16, 2017

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District discovers June Regents scoring discrepancies; Corrective action to be taken

August 17, 2011—Guilderland Central School District will be issuing corrected scores for 489 Regents exams, taken by students at Guilderland High School this past June, after scoring errors were found earlier this month. After a thorough review, it was determined that the discrepancies were caused by human error—calculation mistakes on the part of district scorers.

“The discrepancies on the June Regents resulted in students earning both higher and lower grades than initially reported,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles. The majority of calculation errors resulted in student scores deviating from the earned score by less than three points. The errors in scoring did not affect the graduation of any student from the high school.

“There is absolutely no pattern or information to indicate that anything other than human error occurred,” Wiles added.

On August 8, 2011, administrators at Guilderland discovered numerous calculation errors in the scoring of June Regents exams when answer sheets scored in-district were compared to computerized scoring data supplied by the Northeast Regional Information Center (NERIC) located at the Capital Region BOCES.

Beginning last June, all school districts throughout New York State were required to have their Regents exam answer sheets electronically scored at the NERIC as an increased measure of accountability. When this requirement was established, NERIC offered schools three options for accomplishing the task: send student answer sheets to the NERIC immediately after they were completed to be scanned and scored; hand score the exams in-district, and then send the completed answer sheets for scanning to the NERIC by July 8; or purchase the scanner and software necessary to scan the answer sheets in-district, and then transmit the data file to the NERIC. District officials chose the second option.

None of the discrepancies found were attributed to the scanning process. Instead, errors resulted from miscounting and incorrectly tallying multiple choice answers, as well as from tallying the multiple sections of each test and converting raw scores to final grades.

District leaders worked throughout the beginning of last week to review each individual student answer sheet for all Regents exams—Integrated Algebra, Geometry, Living Environment, Earth Science, Chemistry, Global History & Geography, English Language Arts, and US History & Government. In total, the district discovered errors on 504 of the 3,163 examinations.

Once the total number of errors was confirmed, district leaders immediately contacted the New York State Education Department to determine the most appropriate form of action. Direction from the Office for Standards, Assessment, and Reporting indicated that any adjustment of the scores was at the discretion of the district.

After considerable deliberation and review, district leaders opted to change all of the scores to reflect what the students actually earned, with the exception of the scores of those few students who would go from passing to failing the Regents with a revised score. In total, the scores of 15 students will not be adjusted.

“The rationale for holding these students harmless is that we discovered the scoring problem too late in the summer, and that the students who would go from passing to failing would have missed their opportunity to attend summer school and retake the Regents in August,” said Wiles. She went on to add that changing these students’ scores at this point in time would have significant and negative implications on their program of study for the fall semester and perhaps beyond.

The district is currently preparing letters to be sent home this week to the parents of all high school students who took Regents exams in June. Parents of students who will have a change in their Regents exam score will receive their child’s corrected exam score in the letter. Those parents will also receive a revised report card in the mail shortly thereafter.

“In an era of high-stakes testing, the Regents have a significant impact on the caliber of high school degree a student earns as well as a potential impact on the college application process,” said Wiles. “It would have been irresponsible for us to knowingly let these errors stand. It was clear that we had to make this right.”

Going forward, all Regents exams will be machine scored by the NERIC instead of hand-scored within the district.

“The only way to maintain integrity is to acknowledge when there is a problem, and to commit to addressing the issue to the best of our ability,” said Wiles.