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NCSS tells students to turn off cell phones during standardized tests

COVINGTON — Some Newton County students will be taking standardized tests in the next few weeks, and they are being advised to turn off their cell phones.

Beginning Sept. 16, sixth-graders will be taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and second-grade students will take the Cognitive Abilities Test, or CogAT. On Sept. 25, the Georgia High School Writing Test will be administered.

Allison Jordan, director of testing, research and evaluation with the Newton County School System, sent home a letter to parents this week advising of the policy regarding cell phones and standardized tests.

“In accordance with the Georgia Department of Education’s guidelines regarding cell phone/electronic devices in designated testing locations, students of the Newton County School System are not permitted to use, or bring into the testing environment, any electronic device that could allow them to access, retain or transmit information,” the letter states.

Students who violate the policy will face disciplinary action based on the school system’s code of conduct policy.

All cell phones or electronic devices are to be placed in the “off” position and stored by the teacher. These devices will be returned to the students after all testing materials have been collected, Jordan wrote.

“It is the preference of the Newton County School System that students leave their cell phones/electronic devices at home on the days standardized tests are administered,” she stated.

Jordan explained that the state Department of Education made the policy on cell phones and electronic devices stricter this year due to several incidents that have occurred recently throughout the state. Not only are cell phones and electronic devices not permitted during testing, but school systems must have a plan to collect and store them during the testing period.

Jordan said that there have been instances where students would take a picture of the tests with their cell phones or other devices and post the image to social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Even if the student is not attempting to share information or answers to the tests, Jordan said publicizing them in that way compromises their legitimacy.

“The items on these tests go through a rigorous development process that takes an extremely long time and costs millions of dollars of taxpayer money,” she said. “When these are posted online, out of the controlled testing environment, the tests are no longer valid and the testing elements can no longer be used.”