AUSTIN - State education officials announced Monday a new security plan designed to prevent cheating on standardized tests.

The plan includes assigning test monitors to campuses with previous security problems, using multiple versions of tests and mandatory seating charts at test sites. The security measures would apply to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, also called TAKS, and other state testing programs.

“Texas has always taken test security seriously,” said state Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley. “But as the stakes surrounding testing have become higher, some have questioned whether we are doing all we can to prevent cheating on our tests and to prosecute those who betray our students and schools in this way.”

A recent analysis by The Dallas Morning News found that tens of thousands of students across Texas continue to cheat on the TAKS test, despite claims by the Texas Education Agency that cheating on the standardized exam is a rarity.

The suspected cheating was concentrated in the Dallas and Houston school districts and charter schools.

The TEA announced 14 steps to prevent or identify cheating, including:

Analyze scrambled blocks of test questions to detect answer copying. Contract with a national expert for independent review. Require students to sign honor pledges not to cheat. Develop ways to identify statistically irregular patterns of test answers that may indicate cheating.

A bill waiting approval by Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, would replace the state’s high-stakes high school exit exam with end-of-course tests.

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