Courier staff writer
LA JARA — Both the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and North Conejos School District Superintendent Kevin Schott confirmed the La Jara Elementary School investigation of alleged violations on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) tests.
Original reports claimed the investigation was focused on testing security procedure violations during this year’s testing window, which is taking place this month, but rather it is delving into inconsistencies discovered during previous testing windows.
“None of the evidence has anything to do with this year’s testing,” said CDE Chief Communications Officer Janelle Asmus in a voicemail Tuesday afternoon. “It does not affect 2013.”
Schott, who is in his first year as the district superintendent, also confirmed the alleged violations happened in the past.
“North Conejos is working with CDE to ensure the 2013 TCAP testing session has integrity,” Schott said in a press release. “We did report a possible testing security breach for a prior year's testing. We have maintained and will maintain proper testing protocol for the 2013 testing period.”
The 2013 testing window opened for grades three through 10 Monday, March 11, and the third grade reading portion of the test opened Feb. 25 and concluded on March 8.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Schott explained he has placed two proctors in each testing classroom to monitor the procedure. He is also having the tests stored in the district office under lock and key.
Since the investigation is still open, Asmus said CDE was limited in what information it could release to the public.
“We do plan to work collaboratively with the district until such matter is resolved,” she said.
North Conejos School District Accountability Committee (DAC) member and La Jara Elementary parent Natalie Taylor said in a phone interview Tuesday evening she believed this year’s TCAP testing is being conducted with the utmost integrity.
“We have a really good principal (Terri Booth) that is trying very hard,” Taylor said. “I want the administration to get the credit they deserve. Our new superintendent and principal are making a great effort to do this with integrity. We have people that want really good things.”
With stricter education expectations coming down from the state, TCAP scores are becoming more and more important. In May 2010, the Colorado Legislature passed and Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 191, which changes the way both principals and teachers are supported and evaluated in Colorado, according to CDE. The bill requires that at least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation be based on the academic growth of their students.
Additionally, the new requirements include opportunities for reflection, review, professional development and growth, according to CDE. As a result, annual evaluations will now be required for all teachers and principals. Statewide quality standards defining what it means to be an effective teacher or principal have been developed, and non-probationary status will now be earned after three consecutive years of demonstrated effectiveness and non-probationary status will be lost after two consecutive years of ineffective ratings.
Starting this fall, the quality standards will be implemented statewide, according to CDE. Since it’s the first year, a final rating of partially effective or ineffective will not count towards the loss of non-probationary status.