Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said Monday there were only two possible motives for leaking student assessments to the public — cheating or thwarting the controversial assessment process.
Jackson slammed either possible motivation for the action of posting 14 of Montclair Public Schools' assessments on a public website last week.
The mayor said he had no information about who gained access to the tests, which were among more than 60 thought to be secured behind the district's firewall.
“The obsession with success at any cost — blind ambition — threatens the very soul of our society. Sadly, in the near term, impregnable security systems rather than unimpeachable ethics appear to be the order of the day,” he said about the possible motive of cheating.
Jackson said it is also possible someone opposed to the district's quarterly assessments, which were created as a result of mandated Common Core State Standards, was behind the security breach.
"Poisoning the waters can only be described as abhorrent and, ironically, detrimental to those who have raised heartfelt, reasoned concerns about assessments in a manner customary to a civilized, democratic society.”
He added, “I believe that the overwhelming majority of the most ardent 'anti-assessment' voices would denounce illegal behavior as a means to an end.”
Montclair Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack said in an email sent to township families Sunday that the assessments were available online for a short time, but long enough to compromise their integrity.
MacCormack was not reachable for comment on the investigation Monday.
The Montclair Education Association (MEA), the union which represents Montclair teachers and employees, said the assessments should not be used in light of the leak.
MEA Executive Board Member Beth Albert said Monday a parent contacted MEA President Gayl Shepard on Friday evening and informed her of the breach.
The 14 assessments were posted on www.gobookee.org, Albert said.
The site lets users share books, manuals and other documents. Many Montclair township and school district documents were easily accessed by Montclair Patch during a search Monday, including the school district calendar and Montclair PTA news.
Albert, who works at Northeast Elementary School, said assessments scheduled to be given at the school Monday were cancelled.
MacCormack said in her message Sunday that this week's assessments would be given since none of the assessments leaked were scheduled for this week.