Connecticut Students, Parents Unaware of Social Media Monitoring

connecticut-state-flagConnecticut students will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment this month and Fox Connecticut reports that students, parents and educators are unaware that their students have their social media monitored as they take the assessment.

As Connecticut students are taking Smarter Balanced testing this May for the Common Core, social media sites are being monitored for test security breaches, largely unbeknownst to students, parents or school administrators….

….Smarter Balanced employees at UCLA monitor social media sites during testing for any security breaches, such as posting pictures of test questions online.

The added security measure came as a surprise to Southington Superintendent Tim Connellan. In 2014, Connellan, then the superintendent of the Oxford Public Schools, received a call from the Connecticut State Department of Education alerting him to a test breach. The DOE received a call from Smarter Balanced only minutes after a student tweeted a picture of the test.

“He typed something into a text box, snapped it with his smart phone — which he shouldn’t have had, granted — and then tweeted it out,” explained Connellan. “And then apparently, it was retweeted.”

Connellan explained that he had been in charge of administering the Smarter Balanced field test in Oxford, which included understanding test security, but was unaware of the monitoring.

“It certainly would have been appropriate for the information to come from the Smarter Balanced Assessment; to say ‘Oh, by the way, we do have an additional level of security, we are going to be monitoring social media accounts,’” said Connellan.

….Smarter Balanced added that it cannot see any content published on private Facebook and Twitter accounts. Test monitors search for breaches using relevant hashtags, such as #SmarterBalanced or #commoncore, and can only see posts on public social media accounts.

It is debatable whether Smarter Balanced should spend so much effort on test security.  The fact they contact state departments of education who in turn contact local school districts is simply Orwellian.  The secrecy behind the test make parents and activists skeptical.  At the very least students, parents and educators should be made aware this is happening.