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Local school district reviewing test breach allegations

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Leaders of an Indianapolis school district said they're preparing a report for state officials into the possible disclosure of student assessment test questions by teachers at one of the state's largest high schools.

Washington Township Schools Superintendent Nikki Woodson said during a school board meeting Wednesday night that the investigation of allegations at North Central High School would be "robust."

"We will not let any stone go unturned," Woodson said. "We, too, want to get to the bottom of this issue."

Wes Bruce, the state education department's chief assessment officer, said allegations that a North Central teacher may have copied test questions and shared them with students or other teachers is alarming.

"Something like this, where there is a substantial list of questions, many of which are secure items and a few of which appeared on this year's test, it doesn't get any more serious," Bruce told The Indianapolis Star.

The investigation follows a WTHR-TV report of internal emails and staff notes about a science teacher sharing questions from the state's biology class assessment test at the 3,500-student school on the north side of Indianapolis.

The biology end-of-course-assessment exam is one of three such tests that Indiana high school students are required to take before graduation. Students must pass the state's algebra and English assessment test in order to get their diplomas.

Passing the biology exam isn't required for graduation, but student scores on the biology test are used by the state education department to determine a school's overall ranking. The test scores also play a factor in teacher evaluations and salaries.

Washington Township officials said that no district employees have been suspended or otherwise disciplined. The district said it expected to submit its report on the investigation to the state education department this week.

Bruce said teachers are trained in testing procedures and should know that copying and sharing test questions isn't allowed.

"Every page of the paper document says 'secure materials — do not reproduce or discuss,'" Bruce said. "We're generally talking about a very few bad actors in these situations."

Other states release their state tests publicly each year and don't reuse questions, but Indiana keeps most of the test confidential and it's common for questions to be repeated.

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