How Cheating Cases by Educators at N.Y. Schools Played Out

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A charter school teacher warned her third graders that a standardized test question was “tricky,” and they all changed their answers. A high school coach in Brooklyn called a student into the hallway and slipped her a completed answer sheet in a newspaper. In the Bronx, a principal convened Finish Your Lab Days, where biology students ended up copying answers for work they never did

These are among the 14 cases of cheating by educators substantiated by New York City’s special commissioner of investigation for schools since 2002. They represent a tiny fraction of the more than 1,250 allegations of test tampering or grade changing that the special commissioner has received since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took control of the city schools — most are handled by the Department of Education, which has declined to provide a full accounting of its probes.

But as cheating scandals have engulfed school districts in Atlanta and Washingon, D.C., as well as New jersey and Pennsylvania, a review of this relative handful of substantiated local cases shows that cheating schemes can be mundane or audacious, with motivations that include inflating the statistics that are used to evaluate a school, and helping a favorite student become eligible to graduate.

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