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2 Sonoma County schools warned of social media use during STAR tests

Two Sonoma County schools have been singled out for security breaches during spring 2013 standardized testing season, according to the California Department of Education.

At both Petaluma and Elsie Allen high schools “a security breach involving social media exposure of 2013 STAR test materials has been confirmed.”

Results from both campuses were issued with a warning, but it remains unclear what, if any, sanctions may be levied.

“Caution should be used when interpreting these results,” appears in red across both schools' California Standards Test scores.

The state released the latest round of test scores to the public Aug. 8., identifying 242 schools where social media postings occurred during administration of the test. Neither the Petaluma or Elsie Allen incident were among the 16 cases that included postings of test answers or questions.

“These postings look to be attempts by students to gain attention among their friends, not an effort to gain advantage on a test,” Deb Sigman, deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education, said in a statement.

Petaluma Superintendent Steve Bolman said a Petaluma High School student apparently posted a “blurry” photo on a social network site.

“It wasn't anything for cheating purposes, just to say what she was doing,” he said.

Bolman described security during testing as “pretty tight,” adding that the incident has prompted officials to take a new look at how exams are administered.

“Any breach is serious and we'll continue to look” at district protocols, he said. “There are safeguards taken but in this day of everyone having a camera on them ...”

Last year, 216 schools were involved in security breaches, 12 of which included postings of legible test questions or answers. Breaches were discovered under a new system of monitoring launched last year.

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