- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pennsylvania Education Department plans to tighten security after a fifth-grader who wanted to “play school” ordered a batch of secret state school assessment tests from his western Pennsylvania home.

The shrink-wrapped tests were delivered to the Hempfield Area School District’s warehouse, not to the 10-year-old boy’s home, which department spokeswoman Leah Harris said shows the existing security system works.

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, which are administered annually to youngsters in fourth, eighth and 11th grades, are automatically shipped to districts or individuals schools and “can’t be shipped anywhere else,” Harris said.

The boy, whom officials did not identify, wasn’t trying to cheat, said the district’s director of pupil services, Rebecca Costello.

“He wants to be a teacher. He wanted to play school,” she said.

The boy even requested that the exams be delivered on the last day of testing so that he wouldn’t see it before he took it in March, she said.

The incident was the first of its kind. Because of it, the department plans to require people ordering tests, which measure student achievement and how well schools are educating students, to enter a personal identification code, Harris said.

“We take security breaches very seriously,” Harris said.

The boy completed an order form on the Education Department Web site, where he found two codes needed to complete the transaction _ one identifying the school district, the other identifying Bovard Elementary School, where he is in the fifth grade. He listed his home address and the names of his school and teacher, officials said.

He faxed the form to Data Recognition Corp., of Maple Grove, Minn., the company that produces the exams for Pennsylvania several other states, Costello said.

District officials traced the order to the boy when they discovered they received more tests than they had ordered, said Barbara Marin, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

Officials declined to say if the boy faced discipline as a result.

“The child was upset. He meant no harm. The parents were upset with the child,” Costello said.

___

Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, https://pghtrib.com

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