LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California Department of Education on Friday asked school districts across the state to heighten security during state standardized tests after discovering images of the exams on about a dozen social networking websites, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
The state's testing contractor, Educational Testing Service, is determining if either of the two tests that showed up on the websites — the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, and the California High School Exit Examination — was compromised, said Education Department spokesman Paul Hefner.
State officials discovered the images Thursday. They appear to be snapshots taken by students with cellphones, Hefner said. Most depict blank answer booklets and students posing with closed test booklets, but some are of test question pages and completed answer pages.
The department has asked the websites to remove the images, some of which have been on websites for the past four days, Hefner added. Other websites where pictures were found include Pinterest, Instagram and Webstagram.
In some images, the names of students and districts are visible. In those cases, districts have been asked to investigate how the pictures were taken, Hefner said.
Hundreds of districts started administering the tests this week, with about 600 more to do so in upcoming weeks.
Scores on the STAR tests are reported to the state, which uses them as benchmarks of a school's academic achievement. Students in grades 2 through 11 take the tests in math, reading, writing, science and history every spring.
Passing the California High School Exit Examination is a requirement for high school graduation.
With the exception of some special education students, students are prohibited from taking cellphones and other electronic devices into testing classrooms.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reminded districts to strictly enforce security rules.
"It's vital to the integrity of the testing process," he said in a statement. "I'm confident that if schools and examiners follow established procedures, these materials will remain secure so results remain valid and reliable."