Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
On Thursday evening the state’s Department of Education responded to a Worcester Mag records request looking for any documentation used in investigating MCAS violations at the Goddard School of Science and Technology and Belmont Street Community School.
So far, the DOE’s answer has been very, very underwhelming.
The documents provided only pertained to Belmont Street Community school (after inquiring about the Goddard results, a spokesman said they’ll come later this week) and were heavily redacted, with the DOE arguing:
Significant portions of these records are made exempt both by the Investigatory Exemption to the public records law (G.L. c. 4, §7(26)(f)) as well as the Privacy Exemption (G.L. c. 4, §7(26)(c)) which covers disciplinary records upon which employment decisions could be made. In order to preserve the security of MCAS testing, the integrity of MCAS results, and the confidentiality of techniques and the identities of people implicated in the investigation, the Department must keep private those portions of the responsive documents that the Public Records Law exempts.
The two documents provided were a letter sent from WPS chief academic officer Jeffrey Mulqueen to a redacted person (really? I can’t even get the name of who the letter was addressed to?) on August 17, 2010 and an email from the following day between Mulqueen and the state’s National Assessment of Educational Progress Coordinator Rebecca Bennett (he refers to her as “Roberta” in the letter to the redacted address).
While half the text is blacked out in both letters, there are some revelations.
In the first letter, Mulqueen writes about the tip that sparked debate over MCAS proctoring at Belmont St., writing
Towards the end of the letter though, we might have gotten a hint regarding what triggered the anonymous email:
For those who may not know, the “script” is a passage detailing rules, information and instructions that the MCAS proctor reads to students right before they begin the exam.
In the post-investigation email between Mulqueen and Bennett, the only un-redacted passage worth scrutiny was a quick “Worcester can benefit from systematic supports to ensure regulations are carried out for the administration of MCAS.” (It sounds like the “investigation” was really just a “phone call.”) This may have been foreshadowing for WPS plans to retrain teachers and principals in MCAS administration and to have district employees proctor the exam at Goddard next year.
School committee members Tracy Novick and Dianna Biancheria have received their own records request response from Boone.
We’re going to keep pressing for more information and we’re still waiting on whatever documents the district sent the state in regards to Goddard.
Below are screen shots showing the redactions. You can read the full letter here.