Oklahoma Exam Cheating Leads To Resignations, Retesting

With mounting pressure from performance benchmarks on standardized tests, an increasing number of cheating scandals are unfolding across the country as teachers are pushed to extremes to meet state and national standards. The latest incidents fall in Oklahoma.

Test scores for six schools were invalidated for testing irregularities during the 2010-2011 academic year, The Oklahoman reports. The infractions found from erasure analyses and investigations have resulted in at least three resignations and several other punitive or retraining measures. Students will have to retake their exams.

Teachers were found to have given students chances to correct wrong answers before turning their exams in, or had given students "assistance and answers."

Maridyth McBee, interim assistant state superintendent, told The Oklahoman that the state randomly inspects testing classrooms and conducts erasure analyses on exam answer sheets, but it's difficult to catch everything. When asked if the cheating is more widespread than reported in the investigation, McBee answered, "of course."

Oklahoma's report comes months after findings from a two-year investigation released last summer that found widespread cheating among educators in at least 44 Atlanta schools.

Investigators at the time implicated 178 Atlanta educators involved in test tampering, including erasing students' incorrect answers on standardized tests and replacing them with correct ones. The findings revealed one of the largest cheating scandals in American public school history, shaking the country and "stunned" U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Atlanta's revelation triggered a domino effect of analyses and investigations across the country, leading to numerous discoveries of teacher cheating scandals in areas spanning from Atlanta's neighboring Dougherty County to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and California, among others.

Repercussions for guilty educators also varied by district. Atlanta teachers found guilty of cheating lost their jobs and had their licenses revoked. Connecticut educators kept their positions but lost pay and had to offer after-school tutoring.

The uncovering of the cheating scandal that plagued Atlanta Public Schools last year unveiled a widespread and deeply embedded culture of cheating, fear, intimidation and retaliation among the district's educators. The teachers were afraid, reports showed, to be held accountable for students who performed poorly on standardized tests and subsequently be evaluated poorly, miss out on bonuses or contribute to their school and district's inability to receive funding for meeting or exceeding federal benchmarks.

The school district also agreed this month to repay more than $363,000 in federal money that it won by teachers and administrators cheating.