State Education Department hires test-security czar

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State Education Commissioner John King announced today that he has named Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Sciocchetti  to the new position of executive director of test security and educator integrity. She also will oversee teacher and administrator discipline, including enforcement of moral-character regulatory provisions for educators who have engaged in misconduct, he  said. Sciocchetti has been an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York since 1999.

The appointment is being made following a report on test security that Henry “Hank” Greenberg of the law firm Greenberg Traurig presented to the commissioner and Board of Regents. Greenberg was counsel for Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the governor was attorney general.

King and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch announced last week that they are creating a Test Security Unit in the Department of Education. It will be staffed with investigators and lawyers with law-enforcement experience. Their duties will include establishing an ethics code and policies for test-taking and grading, reviewing and tracking all allegations and investigations of impropriety in testing and prosecution of teacher and administrator moral-character cases. The agency has asked for $2.1 million in state funding in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts April 1, but they have not secured the money yet.

“Our goal is to make sure every student graduates from high school college- and career- ready,” King said in a statement today. “We need accurate and fair assessments to help measure our progress toward that goal. The overwhelming majority of teachers and administrators just want to do the right thing; they would never think of hurting their students by undermining the integrity of the state assessment system.

“We’re developing the investigative and deterrence capacity to protect our teachers, administrators and, most importantly, our students from the kinds of testing scandals that have occurred in other states. Tina Sciocchetti has the expertise, experience and skills to build the strongest test integrity safeguards in the nation.”

The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for Sciocchetti’s salary.

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