Education

Superintendent Responds: Update on Pearson Monitoring Social Media of Warren Students Taking PARCC

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WARREN, NJ - Watchung Hills Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett responded on Saturday after social media exploded on Friday after an email she wrote expressing concern about the unauthorized spying on students was made public. 
 
The response is as follows:
 
Letter from the Superintendent
March 14, 2015
 
Dear Watchung Hills Regional High School Learning Community,
 

On Friday, March 13, 2015, Bobbraunsledger.com published a story referencing an email I had sent to other superintendents about issues regarding PARCC testing and Pearson’s monitoring of social media. The email shown in his article is authentic. It was an email I sent on March 10, 2015 at approximately 10 a.m. to a group of superintendents to share my concerns and to see if other schools had a similar experience. I did not authorize the release of this email nor am I aware of who did release it. I am also not aware of the motives they may have had behind the release. That said, I completely stand behind my comments as they represent not only my views and concerns; they also represent the views and concerns of our Board of Education.
 
The article references instances involving students during PARCC testing and any related disciplinary action. For student privacy issues, we cannot comment on any of the specific students or discipline referred to in the article. What I am able to share is that all issues have been dealt with in accordance with our Code of Conduct, Academic Integrity and Acceptable Use of Technology Policies.
 
Our main concern is, and will always remain, supporting the educational, social and emotional needs of our students. The privacy and security of student information remains the utmost priority for our district.
 
The district will have no further comment on this matter at this time.
 
Regards,
Elizabeth C. Jewett
Superintendent
 
 
 
In the email to colleagues, Jewett said the district’s testing coordinator received a late night call from the DOE saying that Pearson had “initiated a Priority 1 Alert for an item breach within our school.”
 
As it turned out, the breach was a tweet from a student posted at 3:18 pm, after testing was over. The tweet was about one of the test items with no picture.  
 
Jewett said,"the student deleted the tweet and we spoke with the parent–who was obviously highly concerned as to her child’s tweets being monitored by the DOE. The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during the PARCC testing.”
 
In her email, Jewett continued: " I have to say that I find that a bit disturbing–and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out.”

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