Florida School Teachers Helped Students Cheat On State Exams, Investigation Reveals

The state Department of Education's investigation into the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) found potential cheating at four Florida schools and have since implicated one.

Greensboro Elementary school in Gadsden County has been implicated on charges of interfering with how students responded on the 2010-2011 FCAT Science Exam.

Two teachers at Greensboro, Annette Walker and Tunisia Hairston, walked around as students were taking exams, suggesting they reassess chosen answers to certain questions. As a result, the state's Department of Education found a large number of erasure marks, causing suspicion over the school's test results.

Greensboro Elementary School Principal Stephen Pitts, told WCTV that cheating was not encouraged in the school.

"Outside of this isolated incident everything we've done has been based on the hard work of students, teachers and parents."

Although neither of the teachers have been fired, Education Department spokesperson Jamie Mongiovi said the teachers could lose their licenses.

Meanwhile, another Florida school is also under fire for cheating on a fifth grade reading test.

According to a report by the state's Department of Education, Jefferson Elementary school had 80 percent changes from incorrect to correct answers, which is roughly 560 questions.

This cheating scandal is frustrating for many parents whose children attend the school. Michelle Foskey, parent of a student who attended Jefferson last year said its unfair for their children.

"It's not just cheating the state by changing grades," Foskey said. "It's cheating the child itself."

Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, Bill Brumfield, assures parents and administrators alike that changes have been implemented since the cheating was discovered and testing will be more secure.

The investigation's results come after the state Board of Education lowered requirements for a passing score on the FCAT as a way of coping with embarrassingly low student scores. Nearly three-quarters of the state's fourth graders failed this year's FCAT, before the passing score was lowered.

FCAT critics argue that it brings to light issues in a test-oriented education philosophy that cannot be eliminated by lowering passing requirements.

They point to the case of Rick Roach, a 63 year old educator who last year took the FCAT administered to 10th graders and made his results public. Roach, who has two master's degrees and serves on the Orange County school board, scored 62 percent on the reading section of the FCAT and 17 percent on math.

"It seems to me something is seriously wrong," he said at the time, in The Washington Post. "If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had."