Test infraction sends El Molino High into federal sanctions

For the second year in a row, testing irregularities at El Molino High School have wiped crucial scores from the school's books.

As a result, the incident this year has placed the campus in federal sanctions.

When the state released its annual state Academic Performance Index and federal Adequate Yearly Progress results Wednesday, neither score could be calculated for El Molino because a teacher had committed an error that affected at least five percent of pupils tested.

Without the performance index, federal benchmarks cannot be calculated, so El Molino will be classified as not having met No Child Left Behind standards two years running, putting them into Program Improvement sanctions.

"It's sad because it's a good school," said Steve Herrington, superintendent of the Sonoma County Office of Education.

It's the first time a Sonoma County school has come under sanctions for such infractions in recent memory, according to Herrington.

"It's an anomaly," he said.

Officials from the West Sonoma County district alerted the state to potential problems in the administration of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program last spring. The district conducted its own investigation and submitted it to the California Department of Education.

District Superintendent Keller McDonald did not name the teacher involved or reveal what happened during the test, calling it a personnel matter. He said "appropriate consequences" have been meted out. The teacher remains an employee of the district but is not currently working in the classroom.

In July, a representative from the California Teachers Association acknowledged that union officials had met with an El Molino teacher about the allegations and referred her to an attorney.

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