Cheating Teacher Scandal Hits Home

Standardized tests push teachers to achieve tough measures

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCPhiladelphia.com

    A new kind of cheating has taken root nationwide, and it is not about students writing the answers on their hands or asking their friends to whisper the answers to them. It is cheating by teachers.

    The Chula Vista Elementary School District is one of a number of districts in the state and country where cheating has been discovered. Teachers’ actions have been blamed on increased pressure to improve student achievement.

    “One of the reasons I took early retirement is because testing pressures are getting more and more and more,” said retired teacher Dana Messinger.

    A lot is at stake on the standardized tests.

    A school’s results determine if it will be rewarded or punished and affect property values in the area. Additionally, administrators are starting to use the tests to evaluate teachers.

    According to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times through the Freedom of Information Act, the teacher found cheating in the Chula Vista Elementary School District was from Allen School.

    Several fifth grade students reported to their homeroom teacher that they had seen the test’s passages before the test day.  The document shows the teacher stated she used poor judgment by illegally preparing student prior to testing by downloading test passages from the Internet.

    The district spokesman said cheating would not have been necessary for high scores.

    “We as a system are very dependent upon what the results show, so it’s unfortunate,” said district spokesman Anthony Millican, “and in this case the school didn’t really need that kind of help. It was our understanding that they would have achieved a 900 API score, which again makes this a very unfortunate situation.”

    As a result of the cheating, the scores for the entire school were thrown out.

    Messinger does not see this problem improving in the future.

    “I hate to say it, but I think it’s going to happen more and more as it becomes more and more important to the schools, to the administrators and everybody’s job,” Messinger said.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, about three dozen teachers in the state were accused of cheating, lesser misconduct or mistakes while testing.

    They came from 23 schools and 21 districts. The Times said this is an unprecedented amount.

    NBC 7 is told that the teacher from Chula Vista’s Allen School is no longer working for the district.