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June 5, 2007

Audit Finds State Regents Exam Materials
Not Properly Secured Before Test

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today released an audit finding that numerous schools have not been properly securing State Regents examination materials before the tests are given. The audit also found that the State Education Department (SED) has not adequately monitored whether schools are following security measures once the test materials have been delivered to them.

“Next week, hundreds of thousands of students across the State will sit down to take Regents examinations,” DiNapoli said. “They’ve studied hard all year, and they deserve exams that will be a fair test of what they’ve learned.

“Every school has to make sure the Regents exams are not compromised, and SED has to make sure that schools keep the exams secure.”

Most Regents exams are given in June, when about three million tests are administered at more than 2,000 schools across the State. Three days prior to the test, schools receive sealed, labeled packages inside locked boxes containing exam material. Until the day of the examination, schools are required to keep the sealed materials stored in an approved safe or vault.

Auditors visited 235 schools (See Exhibit A in the audit for a complete list) administering the January 2007 Regents exams to review whether schools were properly storing and securing exam materials. Auditors found that 41 of the 235 schools did not fully comply with SED requirements for exam materials. The audit includes detailed data on these 41 districts.

The auditors also found that 16 schools stored their examination materials in unapproved locations, some of which were clearly not secure. Saranac Lake High School (Franklin), for example, stored exam materials in plain sight in the principal’s office, while Solomon Schechter High School (Nassau) stored materials in the assistant principal’s office. The other 14 districts who improperly stored materials were Archbishop Stepinac High School (Westchester), Archbishop Walsh High School (Cattaraugus), Bishop Timon High School (Erie), Brooklyn International High School (Brooklyn), Finger Lakes Christian School (Seneca), Laurens Central School (Otsego), Notre Dame School (Manhattan), Renaissance Charter School (Queens), Sacred Heart High School (Westchester), St. Michael Academy (Manhattan), South Bronx Preparatory High School (Bronx), Urban Assembly School of Law & Justice (Brooklyn), Vanderheyden Hall (Rensselaer) and Whitesville Central School (Allegany).

Eleven of the schools opened the sealed materials, in some instances days before the examination was scheduled. Of these schools, six of the schools also failed to comply with SED’s storage requirements, including Archbishop Stepinac, Curtis, Herbert H. Lehman, Mamaroneck, Saranac and White Plains. The other five districts that prematurely opened the materials were Auburn High School (Cayuga), Hempstead High School (Nassau), John S. Burke Catholic High School (Orange), Lockport High School (Niagara) and Thomas R. Proctor High School (Oneida).

Auditors found that SED was not regularly visiting schools to verify that tests are being properly stored. Auditors found that only 57 of the 235 schools reviewed had been visited by SED since 1992. SED officials told auditors that they did not visit any schools during the June 2006 exam because of a staffing shortage. Officials at many of the districts told auditors that they were not aware of the security requirements, while some officials said that they did not know that they could not open the materials prior to test day.

In its written response to the audit, SED agreed with all of the auditors’ nine recommendations to improve security for the exam materials. SED’s complete response is included in the audit.

Click here for a copy of the audit.

Click here for a complete list of the schools visited.



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