State officials have invalidated assessment test scores for an entire class of eighth-graders because a teacher improperly gave them sample...

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COWICHE, Yakima County — State officials have invalidated assessment test scores for an entire class of eighth-graders because a teacher improperly gave them sample questions from last year’s test.

Students at Highland Junior High, in Cowiche northwest of Yakima, told a teacher that they recognized some of the questions on the science portion of this year’s WASL as examples in a study guide given to them earlier this year by teacher Darryl Hartung.

Highland School District officials investigated and discovered that Hartung photocopied portions of the 2006 science WASL and modeled his study guide after those questions, which state laws forbids.

The school district mailed letters to parents of the 93 affected students Thursday.

The tests have been sent for scoring, but they’ll be flagged and will go unreported to the students and the district.

Hartung, a 17-year teacher with the district, was placed on administrative leave in April and has since been reassigned to teach sixth grade at Tieton Intermediate School.

“There is already enough division surrounding standardized testing; we certainly don’t need things like this to complicate the process,” said Gary Masten, superintendent of Highland schools.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is conducting its own investigation. If it finds that Hartung acted in flagrant disregard of professional standards, he could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and have his teaching license revoked.

A lawyer for the teachers union representing Hartung disagrees with the decision made by the district and OSPI. Invalidating the students’ scores is excessive, and should occur only if the scores reveal statistically different performances, attorney Kevan Montoya said.

“We don’t think what he did reaches the level of flagrant disregard,” Montoya said. “He was doing his best to do what every district wants their teachers to do. That is get students to learn the material and do well on the test.

“In hindsight, (Hartung) regrets doing it and will never do it again.”