Thursday, September 10, 2015

MDE busts another teacher in cheating scandal

The Mississippi Department of Education issued the following press release:

MDE Charges Second Clarksdale Teacher with Cheating on State Tests

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) issued an administrative complaint on Sept. 9 against Tetra Winters, a teacher at Heidelberg Elementary School in the Clarksdale Municipal School District, for violating state law by knowingly and willfully cheating on state assessments.

This is the second complaint filed as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of testing irregularities at Heidelberg Elementary School. MDE is seeking to revoke the license of Winters.

“Our investigation has yielded evidence that Ms. Winters cheated during the 2012-13 school year,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We are committed to pursuing the appropriate disciplinary action against those who were involved in the testing irregularities.”

The complaint outlines two counts of acts, which if proven, constitute violations of state law pertaining to mandatory state testing. Specifically, the counts are:

·Count 1: The Respondent coached examinees during testing or altered or interfered with examinees’ responses during the administration of the 2013 Mississippi Curriculum Test Second Edition (MCT2) in violation of § 37-16-4(1)(c) of the Mississippi Code of 1972.

·Count 2: The Respondent participated in, directed, aided, counseled, assisted in, encouraged or failed to report any acts in violation of § 37-16-4(1)(f) of the Mississippi Code of 1972, during the administration of the 2013 Mississippi Curriculum Test Second Edition (MCT2).

Those actions are grounds for revocation or suspension of Winters’ teaching license. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 29 before the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development. The hearing will be held at South Pointe Business Park, 500 Clinton Park Drive in Clinton.

“We will not tolerate cheating by educators in Mississippi. Cheating deprives students of an opportunity to learn and puts them behind academically. Educators who engage in this type of conduct do not belong in the classroom,” Wright said.

As the investigation progresses, MDE will release its conclusions to the public after determining what actions, if any, it will take in response to the findings, and after each person affected by such actions, if any, are informed of MDE’s decisions.

MDE strives to ensure that all students in Mississippi receive a fair and complete education. A vital objective of standardized assessments is to ensure that students who require additional educational resources can be identified so that they may receive special services if they qualify. Fraudulent MCT2 test results deprive students who need special services from obtaining them because their test scores indicate that they do not qualify for the services.

The investigation into allegations of cheating at Heidelberg began in May 2014. Former Heidelberg Elementary School teacher Frances Smith-Kemp was the first to be served with a complaint alleging she was involved in testing irregularities. Smith-Kemp surrendered her teaching license on July 28, 2015.


Anonymous said...

Is this another Butler Snow education money grabbing project gone bad???

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for the hammer to fall on the admin in the school and district. No way those teachers breathed oxygen without permission first.

Anonymous said...

We badly need a way to evaluate and reward teachers in this country. The traditional way - the longer you have worked, the more we will pay you, is insane. We all went to school. We all had teachers who were great, middle of the road, and horrible. Think back on your teachers - was there a strong correlation between experience and results?
If schools were run like private businesses the middle managers, principals and superintendents would have some ability to pay good teachers more, middle of the road teachers less, and poor teachers nothing. Then the managers would be help accountable for school wide results. If the schools failed they would be fired. If schools succeeded, they would get bonuses. I don't have all the answers, but what we have been doing for decades is a bad plan.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the teachers union, 1:52, (MAE) or that splendid suggestion.

Anonymous said...

1:52, Schools aren't businesses producing straight A's in students. Too many other factors play in student achievement other than just teaching and schooling. How would you measure "production" of the teachers and administrators that is fair and reflective of actual best practices in education?

Anonymous said...

Recently in a discussion of rewarding good teachers based on students' grades, the topic was introduced that students could gang-up and sink a teacher. They can agree to all fail a test and make the teacher lose the chance to get rewarded, unless the teacher does what they want. This seems far fetched in one way, but in another I can see it happening. Would be interested in other's take on this angle.

Labor Law said...

4:11; There is no such thing as 'a teacher's union' in the state of Mississippi. Unions have contracts, engage in collective bargaining, represent employees in grievance procedures, defend employees against sanctions and have a voice in the assignment, reassignment and termination of the employees of a bargaining unit.

Nice try.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take standardized testing to spot a good teacher or a bad teacher. Principals should be able to fire any teacher 1 month before testing. At least the next teacher would have a chance to cram the kids before the big exam.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a combination of several factors should determine teacher pay.
Assuming a school district has the same money for salaries, but wants to consider a better way to determine wages. How about something like this (of course the actual percentages should not be set by me, I made up something as an example).
85% of current average teacher pay = The base salary that all teachers get.
5% bonus for a masters degree
5% bonus for a Phd
1/2% bonus for each year of teaching experience up to a max of 20 years experience.
5% maximum bonus for improving test scores in the classroom
3% max bonus as voted by other teachers based on reputation and co-operation
7% max bonus based on skill, effort, knowledge, and results as determined by the school principal.
(Note: Maximum total will be more than 100% because most teachers will get less than 100%)
OR we could keep paying based mostly on years of experience and keep wondering why schools don't improve.

Crossing Eyes And Dotting Teas said...

It's a hokey (stupid) idea to give a principal, even a superintendent, the authority to out-right fire a teacher. There is more politics, more cronyism, more favoritism, more nepotism going on in school systems than in any other American workplace.

Principals are nothing more than teachers who managed to attend 15-30 more hours of classroom lecture. And too many of them got in the position by sucking up to the last guy who had the job and got himself promoted. Most of them have no clue about business management, acceptable personnel practices, employment law or motivating a workforce.

They are trained dogs who have learned which hoops to jump through, center stage, to satisfy the people in Jackson. I've never met a principal who could manage even a donut shop in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

12:29: Excellent post. I like seeing someone on this blog who actually offers a solution to a given problem. Most folks on this site simply throw stones. Thanks for your post.

Instead Of Hiring More Assistant Principals said...

360 degree appraisals have never worked and will never work. They're popularity based and heavily influenced by emotion and feelings.

The work, commitment, effort and attitude of an individual can NOT be measured by outcomes in a classroom. Outcome in a classroom is 80% determined by home environment and parental involvement.

Before we start talking about performance based pay for teachers, we need to get real serious about performance based pay and retention for superintendents and principals.

We have State Ed Department 'employees' (many of them, themselves, failed or ineffective classroom educators) descending on school buildings under the guise of evaluating processes and outcomes and very little ever comes of it. Rarely is a school put on probation. The system is rigged to give a district multiple opportunities to fail and repetitively fail. By the time it gets really serious, the people at the top of that system retire and become consultants for the State Department of Education.

Before we can entertain solutions, we MUST agree on the problems. It's one thing to sling suggestions and 'solutions' at the flip chart. But we need to back up about forty steps and be real sure we understand the problem and its multiple causes.

George said...

We don't all have to agree on the best way to hire and pay restaurant cooks. Because the restaurant owners make those decisions. And if they make good smart decisions we eat there and they make money and if they make bad stupid decisions we don't eat there and they go out of business. There is no reason why schools should be any different. Give parents a voucher and let them decide who provides the best education for their children.

Anonymous said...

George - that is great. Capitalism works. But when you make the public schools compete against private ones, would you continue to tie the hands of the administrators who are not allowed to pay based on merit? For if you do and the charter schools don't the great teachers will go where they are paid more and given freedom. The bad teachers will stay in the system that rewards them for showing up.

Anonymous said...

5:33 I agree that if principals and superintendents are given more responsibility, the system for choosing principals and superintendents would need to be changed. On the other hand, if a principal is given the power to reward great teachers, perhaps some good people who do not want to be principals under the current system will then want the job.
Perhaps some people who do not even want to work in education will also change their minds.
People who are good at their jobs want to work where being good at your job is rewarded and being bad gets you canned. People who are good at their jobs hate working with people who are not.

Anonymous said...

It's so simple. The way to prevent teachers from cheating on state tests is to do what some other states do: forbid them to administer the test to their own students! On testing day, teachers swap classrooms. Why in the world is it allowed to test your own students in the first place?

Of course, there are other ways to cheat. Teachers are not supposed to see the test questions. But I have heard them discussing what facts and skills to teach in the coming year, though, because that fact or skill "is on the test". How do they know?

As for principals being allowed to award raises for good teachers, most of them would not recognize good teachers. Folks, most principals are former athletic coaches. Additionally, like most managers, they think the best employee is the one who is the least trouble, certainly not a teacher who is going to insist on order, discipline, fewer classroom interruptions such as announcements, last-minute reports and last-minute faculty meetings, for example.

Anonymous said...

OMG - Most of the respondents on this thread have obviously not taught school or have any idea of what teachers are up against these days. You cannot just take year-end test scores and evaluate a teacher - just doesn't hold water. You've got so many variables on those scores that it's a nearly impossible task.

This current M-Star teacher evaluation system is a joke. It non-sensible. Just try checking out all the components. Evidence of being the primary word. The documentation placed on teachers not exceeds that of the medical profession. Teachers in general and especially elementary teachers are the most micro-managed profession imaginable. You are told when, where and how to do everything. Have you ever heard of a "focus wall" and the NECESSITY of one.

And then there is the behavior - go to a south Jackson elementary school and just stand around for a few hours - especially after lunch - walk the halls, go in the classrooms.
You can plan until you are blue in the face - doesn't matter.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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