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Principal: CdM students bought test answers on Amazon

He doesn't know whether the teacher will discard test scores or have students retake test. Parents praise school's response.

January 04, 2012|By Amy Senk, Corona del Mar Today

About 10 Corona del Mar High School sophomores had test answers before an exam earlier this school year by buying test banks on Amazon.com, the school's principal said at Wednesday's PTA meeting.

Test banks provide chapter-by-chapter questions for tests, which textbook publishers provide to ensure teachers craft exams that properly assess student learning, Principal Tim Bryan said.

"If you have the test questions in advance, you're cheating," he said. "They altered the conditions of the test. It's a really big issue for us."

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The history teacher discovered the cheating when someone, likely a student, wrote an anonymous note, Bryan said.

In all, 180 students took the test in question.

Bryan said he did not know if the teacher planned to have students retake the test, or if the test scores would be discarded — all scenarios that would hurt students who studied and honestly earned good grades. He also declined to discuss whether students involved would be disciplined.

Some students and parents may have thought that the test banks were legitimate study guides, he said, not realizing that test banks are usually fiercely protected by publishers and available only when buying sets of textbooks, or to teachers who have teacher identification numbers.

But parents at the meeting said that the word among students was that those involved knew they had illicit information, and some were offering the information for sale to other students. One parents said her daughter asked her to buy the test bank, but she declined and said it looked like cheating — not knowing that other parents and students were buying the information.

A district official called the publishing company, Bryan said, and the test bank in question is no longer available on Amazon.

A parent whose daughter is taking the history class but who did not have test bank information said she heard about the cheating over the winter break.

"She's frustrated, and I'm very frustrated," said the parent, who asked her name not be used to protect her daughter's privacy. "When you have a child who is taking a very difficult class, being challenged and doing well, and then find out that other kids are working the system — it's bad. It's a program fail."

The parent said the teacher and administrators were handling a bad situation well, discussing it in class and working on ways to make sure students know that cheating is not permissible.

"They were on it the minute they heard about it," the parent said.

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