AUGUSTA — The state Department of Education plans further investigation of testing irregularities that prompted officials to throw out the standardized mathematics test results of some Farrington Elementary School students, school board members were told Wednesday.

Superintendent James Anastasio said state officials have not indicated how long the investigation will take.

The irregularities alleged by the state included the placement of mathematics reference materials on the walls of classrooms used to give students Maine Educational Assessment tests, which state officials said violated testing rules and gave students an unfair advantage.

On Wednesday, school board members, as part of their agenda packets, received the May 26 letter from Nancy Godfrey, acting assessment coordinator for the state Department of Education, to Anastasio informing him the state had invalidated the mathematics results of 106 Farrington students on 212 tests because of testing irregularities.

They also formally received the resignaton of Lori Smail, Farrington’s principal, which she had submitted May 12.

Both were on the agenda as informational items, and neither required a vote or other board action.

Neither board members nor any members of the public commented on either of those items other than Kim Martin, board chairwoman, who said of Smail and two other staff members whose resignations went to the board Wednesday that the board appreciated their contributions to the school system and hoped “whatever they do in the future will be a great expeience for them.”

Anastasio said the state’s decision to invalidate the test results was based on an internal investigation of the testing process by his office, the result of which was provided to the Department of Education. He said that investigation was “phase one of at least two phases.”

“Those tests were invalid and those students will not be taking the test again,” Anastasio told board members Wednesday. “We’re waiting for additional information from the Department of Education. I don’t have any information on the time frame. As soon as I do, I will let you know.”

The letter from the state indicated the decision to invalidate the Farrington test results was made by the department’s assessment committee. The letter noted the assessment committee would forward the case to the certification department for further investigation, and the results of that investigation would be reported to the education commissioner.

Jaci Holmes, interim spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said Wednesday the state’s investigation would start formally Monday. She said the department didn’t have an estimate of how long the investigation will take.

Anastasio has said posters and other mathematical reference materials were placed in two testing rooms by teachers.

Cony teacher Jeff DeJongh, president of the local teachers’ union Augusta Education Association, said Tuesday that Smail had given teachers at the school permission to place the math materials in the testing rooms. He said she later learned such materials were not supposed to be available to students during testing, but she didn’t inform staff the materials should be removed from the classrooms. He also said the procedures for setting up a testing environment were unclear.

Smail, who did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, had said previously that “the error that was made was unintentional.”

Anastasio said Small reported the testing irregularities May 8, as soon as she became aware of them.

The letter from Godfrey to Anastasio, obtained by the Kennebec Journal last week under a Freedom of Information Act request, indicated the posters and other materials were placed in two classrooms at Farrington on purpose. It also indicated students might have been given guidance by teachers on test content they had not covered in class.

“Based on the investigation supplied by Augusta School Department, a variety of mathematical reference sheets and posters were intentionally made available to students in two testing rooms,” the letter states. “Students shared that teachers conducted mini-lessons to classes on test items ‘in case it came up again in the test’ and gave verbal and nonverbal guidance to students who had questions on test content they had not covered in class.”

The letter also states: “The unfair advantage given to these students during the mathematics assessment warrants a determination that the test scores are not valid.”

Anastasio, in a May 27 letter to the parents of Farrington students whose mathematics scores were invalidated, said the investigation’s first phase determined 212 mathematics-related tests, completed by 106 students in grades 3 to 6, would be invalidated because of “unfair testing environment advantages.”

Farrington’s other MEA scores in English and literacy were unaffected.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj