Test security now means checking social media for cheaters

For the organizations that give standardized tests, it's a common - and common-sense - security measure.

But to the growing number of critics of the exams, the practice of monitoring students' social media accounts against leaks of test questions is evidence that the tests and the companies that create them are too invasive.

The debate exploded last week in New Jersey when a school administrator emailed some colleagues about her district's experience. In the email, Watchung Hills Regional High School District Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett said the state Education Department contacted her district at a testing company's request at 10 p.m. one night last week with news of a possible test breach. A student apparently had posted a photo of a question from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, or PARCC, on Twitter.

The state Education Department, she said in her note, was informed of the issue by Pearson, the London-based company that oversees the test developed by PARCC. It is being given in a dozen states this month.

"The DOE wanted us to issue discipline to the student," she wrote.

But, Jewett said in the March 10 email to leaders of other schools that was obtained by education blogger Bob Braun, it turned out that the student was merely complaining about a test question; there was no photo of the item itself. She said the student's tweet was removed.

Jewett released a statement confirming that the email was hers and asserting it was accurate, but she did not return an email seeking more details. The district also said she would not comment further.

PARCC, intended to measure how well students are learning what's required by the national Common Core curriculum standards, has many critics. Some students scattered across the country are protesting the exam and some parents organized through social media networks are boycotting it.

(Read more at NBCi4)