Allegations of TAKS Cheating

Lincoln Intermediate summer school students are working hard to bring up their academics. Teachers can help with improvement in right and wrong ways. The Texas Education Agency is alleging middle school math teacher Bernice Martin  changed answers on 17 math TAKS tests last year. The highly regarded teacher denies any wrongdoing.

For students it's an embarrassment. One student responded,  "We're supposed to be learning that. A teacher shouldn't be cheating...or supposedly. " The interim superintendent Harold Hagle makes no judgement and can't understand why anyone would try breaking the serious state rules.    " There's no monetary value to it there's nothing, there's no incentive to do that, so I don't know," said Hagle.

TAKS results are a reflection on teacher, school and district performance.  The San Augustine School District has had outstanding and even exemplary performance on TAKS tests. But last year the intermediate school received an unacceptable rating. This year, with better test scores they managed to pull it up acceptable.

How far someone would go to improve scores can be surprising. This investigation led to erasure analysis and the gathering of handwriting samples. The teacher, a counselor, who served as campus test coordinator and a retired principal could lose their credentials.   Hagle said,  " When you're taking credentials away your taking part of their life away. "

Hagle says if the allegations are found to be true he would hope that a reprimand or a temporary removal of credentials be the punishment. The investigator also found that school officials failed to ensure proper administration of the test and that the campus principal and campus test coordinator violated policies by showing a student's test documents to the student's legal guardian when the guardian did not request to do this. This act violates administrative policies.

The commissioner will review the allegations. It could be months before the superintendent knows whether or not to start hunting for new employees.  Today Education Commissioner Shirley neely announced that she will step down July first after three years leading the Texas Education Agency.