Identifying Testing Improprieties, Irregularities, and Breaches

Test security incidents, such as irregularities and breaches, are behaviors prohibited either because they give a student an unfair advantage, compromising the validity of inferences from student test results, or because they compromise the secure administration of the assessments. Whether intentional or by accident, failure to comply with security and administration rules, either by staff or students, constitutes a test security incident. Irregularities and breaches need to be reported in accordance with the instructions in this section for each severity level.

LEA ELPAC coordinators or site ELPAC coordinators will use the online ELPAC STAIRS process in TOMS for reporting test security incidents and irregularities that occur before, during, or after testing on computer- and paper-based tests. Some incidents may require that an Appeal be submitted to reset, reopen, or restore (if a test had been reset in error) an online test. After the details of the incident have been submitted, an email will be sent confirming the incident that was submitted and indicating whether any action is needed.

Impact and Definitions

Definitions for test security incidents that can occur during administration of the Summative ELPAC are provided in table 1. Incidents should be logged using the STAIRS/Appeals process. The comprehensive CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide will be available in January 2021 prior to the start of the Summative ELPAC administration in February.

There are three types of test security incidents that must be reported using the ELPAC STAIRS/Appeals process: improprieties, irregularities, and breaches. The CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide provides some examples of breaches, irregularities, and improprieties.

Table 1. Definitions for Test Security Incidents

Type Definition Example
Impropriety

An impropriety is an unusual circumstance that has a low impact on the individual or group of students who are testing, and has a low risk of potentially affecting student performance on the test or of impacting test security or test validity. These circumstances can be corrected and contained at the local level.

The site ELPAC coordinator can report an impropriety to the LEA ELPAC coordinator, who can assist with mitigation as necessary. The site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator will report the incident within 24 hours using the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS.

Student(s) were making distracting gestures or sounds or talking during the test session that creates a disruption in the test session for other students, or a student or students left the test room without authorization.
Irregularity

An irregularity is an unusual circumstance that impacts an individual or group of students who are testing and may potentially affect student performance on the test or impact test security or test validity. These circumstances can be corrected and contained at the local level.

An irregularity must be reported to the LEA ELPAC coordinator and site ELPAC coordinator immediately. The coordinator will report the irregularity within 24 hours using the STAIRS/‌Appeals process to both report the incident and file the Appeal.

Some testing incidents may also require that a corrective plan of action be provided by the LEA at the time of submitting the STAIRS case. The corrective action plan may include, but is not limited to, a description of specific training or communication measures.

Student(s) were assigned an incorrect designated support or accommodation, or student(s) cheated or provided answers to each other.
Breach

A breach is a test administration event that poses a threat to the validity of the test. Examples may include such situations as a release of secure materials or a security or system risk. These circumstances have external implications for the CDE, ETS, or both, and may result in a decision to remove the test item(s) from the available secure bank. A breach incident must be reported to the LEA ELPAC coordinator immediately.

The LEA ELPAC coordinator must immediately report the breach, including social media exposure on the part of a student or adult or media coverage of an administration, by calling CalTAC at 800-955-2954; and open a STAIRS case using the online STAIRS process available in TOMS for all other breaches. The LEA ELPAC coordinator must report the incident in STAIRS within 24 hours.

Test examiners modified student answers, or test items were shared via social media.

It is important for test examiners to ensure that the physical conditions in the testing room meet the criteria for a secure test environment. Refer to the subsection Requirements for more detail.