Prince William Teachers Investigated For Helping Students on Tests

They are retaking test administration training, and may not be allowed to administer tests in the future.

Five Prince William County teachers, two of which were put on administrative leave, are retaking test administration training after they reportedly offered inappropriate assistance to students taking standardized tests, the Washington Examiner first reported

About 30 students had to be retested, Prince William County Schools spokesperson Phil Kavits said.

The school system began investigating these testing incidents individually, prompted by comments from students or other teachers, Kavits told Patch. 

"There is a real sense of the importance of the integrity of this process," he said, noting that it was common for a fellow teacher to report an inappropriate action on the part of a colleague. "What hasn't come up is the number of tests that are given with no problems." 

The standardized testing environment is heavily scripted. "They're supposed to stick with that script," Kavits said. "In at least one case, it sounds like in trying to clarify an issue, the teacher may have stepped over the line."

"At Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary in Woodbridge, one teacher indicated correct answers by saying 'You go!' and a student’s name or giving a pat on the back," The Washington Post reported.

Kavits said he couldn't state with certainty what a teacher's motive might be in such a situation, but felt that a teacher's enthusiasm for their job and desire to do their best might lead them to step over the line. 

"Each of the individual cases was different," he told Patch. "In one of the cases, it wasn't any help at all provided to students, it was a case of a teacher taking notes on the test. It's probably a teacher looking for how they might be able to do a better job in the future. Nevertheless, it flew in the face of the rules."

In the case of a teacher giving cues to students, "they're very eager to help," he said. 

These teachers must now go back and look at the testing manual, at the testing agreement they signed, and at the law. 

"It's really a case of making sure they understand the rules, that the integrity of the test is upheld, and most of all, that it doesn't happen again, and that everyone around understands that it's not acceptable," Kavits said.

Joe George July 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM
This looks like "borderline" violations here. It's a shame that many of our teachers have to focus so much on having their students (our kids) "prepared to take the test" very few can actually teach they way they should.
Ken Ikeda July 27, 2012 at 01:27 PM
The article has the following line, "Kavits (PWCS spokesperson) said he couldn't state with certainty what a teacher's motive might be in such a situation..." Surely, he is kidding. There is so much pressure on the teachers and the schools for standardized test performance. Clearly the teachers want the kids to do well not just for the students but also for the school to avoid the stigma and extra attention that comes with poor test performance.
Nonnymouz August 01, 2012 at 12:44 AM
How can the school district not know what a teacher's motivation is? Up to 40% of teacher evaluations come from these test scores! And doesn't anybody else find it sad that teachers report colleagues for suspected cases of test irregularities? It reminds me of Soviet citizens being encouraged to report their neighbors to Stalin's NKVD just before World War 2; of children being required to inform on their parents for a secret stash of potatoes. Great way to encourage the next generation to become teachers. Ugh.


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