This question seems very much in dispute. At a news conference earlier this month in revealing Department of Public Instruction findings into testing irregularities at Eisenhower Elementary School, Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld said the following:
"In June 2011 some teacher’s obtained copies of the WKCE test booklets from previously administered examinations to review, as part of their summer data retreat data analysis process. This is a perfectly acceptable practice by the State of Wisconsin, with the caveat that you cannot use any test questions from the previously administered WKCE tests to create practice questions, as the test questions will be used in future WKCE tests….Principals and staff involved are required, again, to sign a confidentially agreement."
But Langenfeld says some staff at Eisenhower did use the test questions from old test for practice questions and they too closely mirrored math questions on the 2011 actual test. Again, Langenfeld says these retreats using old WKCE tests are "perfectly acceptable...by the state." But are they? I have obtained an email sent out to School Assessment Coordinators March 13, which seems to indicate that NO USE of old tests in test preparation is allowed:
District Assessment Coordinators:
Reminder: A certain number of test questions are repeated from
year to year in different assessment forms in order to ensure
that trends in achievement results can be calculated across years.
As such, the items in the previous years' WKCE
tests must not be used for any test preparation activities. (emphasis mine)
It is also not acceptable to modify a test item and use it for practice.
As you are aware, more information regarding
this is available in the policy manual and the test security trainings
available in the DPI website http://dpi.wi.gov/oea/wkce.html.
If you have any questions about proper test preparation
or administration practices, please contact the
Office of Educational Accountability at email@example.com or 608-267-1072.
Debbie Gaffney Dilley
Office of Educational Accountability
Department of Public Instruction
Note the underlined "must not e used for any test preparation activities. Supporters
of former Eisenhower Principal Claudia Orr says that, in fact, the district did encourage
construction of the pre-tests questions from old tests, but I've been unable to
confirm that but continue to work to do so. But even if that isn't true, doesn't this
memo sent to schools last week seem to contradict what Langenfeld said at the
I've reached out to DPI'S Patrick Gasper but have gotten no response. A person
at DPI told me he was in today, another person at DPI told our Green Bay Newsroom
he was not in. A spokesperson for the Green Bay School District, Amanda Brooker,
told our newsroom the email above is in error. Debra Bougie of the DPI told our
newsroomthat Brooker's assertion would be wrong and
the tests cannot be used at all in preparation. Is it just me, or is this thing about
Jeff Flynt in our WTAQ newsroom is working this story and will have
more throughout the day at wtaq.com and on air at 97.5 FM, 1360 AM, WTAQ.
Update: This post was updated to indicate that the emphasis in the DPI email was
UPDATE II: John Johnson of DPI has now told us that Langenfeld's comments were
generally accurate. Yet he also says the email above is correct. How can both be true?
Apparently, outside the test window, according to Johnson, the old tests can
be viewed, but not used for practice test questions, although the email
above doesn't specificy that. And doesn't this invite the very type of abuse that officials
say occurred at Eisenhower?
Also, Amanda Brooker denies saying the email was wrong. She did and we stand by that.