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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 23, 2010


Boston Globe -One staff member at a Springfield charter school told state education investigators he felt so pressured by his principal last spring to improve MCAS scores that, in order to keep his job, he helped one student write an essay for the test.

Another staff member said he was fired after he accused the principal of encouraging cheating, while another staff member observed a colleague pull some students away from watching a movie so they could fix answers on their tests.

The findings, released yesterday by state education officials, offer the first public glimpse into the specific cheating allegations that have been leveled against Robert M. Hughes Academy, which was ordered last winter to improve its scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests to avoid being closed.

Previously, Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, had said only that the cheating, described as pervasive and systemic, was orchestrated by the principal and carried out by several adults at the school, which teaches 180 students in kindergarten through grade 8. . .

Janet Henry, who was the academy's principal last spring, said she had not seen a copy of the report and did not even know of its existence until contacted by the Globe. However, she denied any wrongdoing after she was told of the report's findings, including an allegation that she had encouraged staff not to cooperate with the investigation.

"These accusations that are being made against me are far-fetched,'' said Henry, who was placed on leave last fall by the academy's trustees amid the state investigation. "At no time, did I ever imply or have teachers cheat.''. . .

Half of Hughes Academy's 16 staff members told state investigators that they were either aware of or engaged in various acts of cheating, according to the findings released yesterday. In addition to the principal, the investigation placed some of the blame for orchestrating the cheating on an unnamed administrator who oversaw administration of the MCAS exam.

Shortly before testing began last March, either Henry or the unnamed administrator asked staff members to review the exams so they would be better prepared to identify incorrect answers on students' tests, according to the report. Henry instructed staffers who spotted wrong answers to tell students to recheck their work, a violation of state testing protocol.

In another instance, one staff member observed some students, who had completed the MCAS once, taking it again during a make-up session designed for students who had for some reason missed it the first time. Under state rules, students can take the exam only once.

When the state received the results for the academy's exams last summer, officials noticed that the scores had climbed at among the fastest rates in the state, raising suspicion.

When the state received the results for the academy’s exams last summer, officials noticed that the scores had climbed at among the fastest rates in the state, raising suspicion.


Anonymous not a man shall be a slave said...

Teaching the test; it's the latest soft version of propaganda and brainwashing.

January 23, 2010 10:00 PM  

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