8th graders to be retested after papers lost in OPRF flood

?Only the math portion of the placement tests was affected. Retests will be given at middle schools.

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By DREW CARTER

Eighth grade students in Oak Park and River Forest will retake one portion of high school placement tests after the test papers were damaged by?#34;and then lost?#34;during cleanup of a recent flood at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

The tests were sitting atop boxes in math division faculty head Deborah Neuman's office and were damaged directly from water rushing into the office, said Phil Prale, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Building and grounds crews were instructed to not throw out anything from the office, and they reported they did not dispose of anything. But the tests cannot be found, Prale said, adding that he did not know whether the tests could have been salvageable if they had not been lost.

"It's an inconvenience, but these things happen," Prale said.

Students will need to retake the math portion of the placement tests, which will happen in coming weeks at each public middle school during the day, Prale said. The test runs 35 minutes, and is normally taken on a Saturday morning with two other sections, science and English, in a half-day testing session at OPRF.

An after-school test later in January at OPRF will serve as an opportunity for private school eighth-graders to take the test, and as a retest for any public school students who missed the in-school test.

A new math test has been written and is under faculty evaluation. Class registration begins in mid-February, which will give plenty of time for the test to be given, scored and the results entered into the OPRF database, Prale said.

The tests are used as one of a handful of indicators to determine which classes students would best be prepared for at the high school. Other indicators include standardized test scores, middle school course selection, profile sheets?#34;which record things such as study habits and classroom participation?#34;and input from eighth-grade teachers "because numbers don't tell us everything we want to know," Prale said.

Results from the tests are not reported to students.

The flood was caused by frozen water in lines feeding the fire sprinkler system in the school's north attic. Once pipe fittings ruptured, hundreds of gallons per minute flowed from the attic down three floors of classrooms until firefighters and school personnel were able to shut off the deluge at its source an hour later.

Fortunate timing of the incident during winter break allowed crews time to clean up before the school's scheduled reopening. A few art rooms remain closed for repairs.

Contact: dcarter@wjinc.com

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