A teacher at an elite New York City school has been pulled from her classroom for giving students top scores on a mandatory citywide exam, without actually administering the test, the New York Daily news reports.
Alexandra Karlson, a third-grade teacher at the Anderson School for gifted children was suspended after an investigation found she had failed to administer the Early Childhood Literacy Assessments, but still "marked every student at the highest level" on the standardized reading exam. Further details of Karlson's employment status have not been disclosed.
"How could she think she'd get away with it?" a parent of a student in Karlson's class asked the Daily News. "When a whole class of kids doesn't take a test, people will find out. Kids talk."
The ECLA "is an assessment designed to help teachers determine the progress in literacy development in children from grades K-3," according to the New York City Department of Education. Student scores on the test must also meet federal requirements and are considered in determining whether a student is promoted to the next grade.
In recent years, teachers and administrators have crumbled under increasing pressure to demonstrate improved student performance. In 2011, the findings of a two-year investigation in Atlanta revealed widespread cheating among at least 44 schools, implicating 178 educators in test tampering. Educators were found to have erased students' incorrect answers on standardized tests and replaced them with correct ones, among other improper acts. The findings rocked the nation and "stunned" U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
The initial 800-page report criticized then-Atlanta Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall for breeding "a culture of fear and intimidation," in which teachers were afraid to call out cheating coworkers and educators were pressured to meet or exceed annual goals for test results. Hall vehemently denied the allegations, telling The New York Times that her portrayal in the media was an image "foreign" and "crazy" to her.
The Atlanta cheating report prompted other states and districts around the country to launch their own investigations into testing improprieties. Schools in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California, among others, have since uncovered security breaches or testing irregularities by educators and are now seeking to implement preventative measures against teacher cheating.