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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 12:42 PM

In a Memphis Cheating Ring, the Teachers Are the Accused

In the end, it was a pink baseball cap that revealed an audacious test-cheating scheme in three Southern states that spanned at least 15 years.

Test proctors at Arkansas State University spotted a woman wearing the cap while taking a national teacher certification exam under one name on a morning in June 2009 and then under another name that afternoon. A supervisor soon discovered that at least two other impersonators had registered for tests that day.

Ensuing investigations ultimately led to Clarence D. Mumford Sr., 59, who pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that accused him of being the cheating ringís mastermind during a 23-year career in Memphis as a teacher, assistant principal and guidance counselor.

Federal prosecutors had indicted him on 63 counts, including mail and wire fraud and identify theft. They said he doctored driverís licenses, pressured teachers to lie to the authorities and collected at least $125,000 from teachers and prospective teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee who feared that they could not pass the certification exams on their own.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/education/in-memphis-cheating-ring-teachers-are-the-accused.html?pagewanted=all

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 12:44 PM

1. It must suck to be them.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 12:45 PM

2. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

If someone cannot pass the tests, he or she shouldn't be teaching. For crying out loud, the tests aren't that hard.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:02 PM

3. No, the tests aren't that hard.

And why would anyone want to cheat to get a job anyway? If one is unable to perform, up to standard, on an exam how do they expect to perform on the job? Why would anyone want to set themselves up that way?
Teaching is hard work. All the preparation and experience in the world does not entirely prepare one for every issue that might arise in a classroom.
I have advanced degrees and years of experience in the classroom and there are days when I feel like a charlatan.
The school I work in serves poor, tough kids. We have low test scores. Not one of my peers is under-qualified.
I can't imagine the situation in these schools or states.

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Response to iemitsu (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:34 PM

8. The MTTC Spanish test was tough but fair for the most part.

I'm still not sure how I passed it on the first try (most don't). Still, if you have to cheat to get your teaching job, you don't deserve to be a teacher who then tells kids they can't cheat.

I feel like a charlatan all the time. I took 9 years off to be a stay-at-home mom, and there's so much I don't know still.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:51 PM

11. The more one knows the more obvious it becomes, to that person,

that she/he doesn't know enough.
Even though others are unlikely to spot any evidence of inadequacy it does not make feeling like a charlatan any easier.
I can't imagine what it must be like to truly be one. I would not be able to sleep at night.
I suppose though, that real con-men and women wouldn't be bothered as much by that as I.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:29 PM

5. That story is at least weeks old

I am surprised the NYT is that slow to report on it.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:31 PM

6. Well, the ringleader pled guilty yesterday.

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Response to alp227 (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:35 PM

9. That's the only reason the NYT would bother with it

You know, a dose of reality like this story takes away from their "education reform" talking points.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:31 PM

7. Not enough curriculum about testing in education courses. Not enough education courses

required to teach.

If these candidates really understood testing and the techniques involved, they wouldn't worry or be prey to these evil critters who help convince them they can't do it.

My lowest grade was 92/100 on the world geography section of my composite exam in social studies, and I have taken exactly one geography course in my life - in the 4th grade in 1962. I did not cram, I did not read a book, I did not join a study group. I got plenty of rest the night before, a snack before the test, and used my knowledge of test construction to proceed.

I teach the base set of these techniques to all my students in the first two weeks of any class I teach, whether sophomore or high school senior. I have a 98% lifetime record of students passing all state exams in my Title I school with an 85% poverty, 78% minority, 50% from homes where no person has a high school diploma, background.

Good gosh.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 01:37 PM

10. I just don't understand it. You can take these tests more than once if you fail.

There is no need to commit fraud on testing.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 05:01 PM

17. I agree. It's a learned helplessness. I have it come up in my

own students, and it is a slow, slow process to get rid of, but it can be done. Real success cures it.

Real, not contrived, not imaginary, not invisible, even if small or tiny, but real.

And they feel great instead of being defeated after just a few minutes.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 02:33 PM

12. The CA math cert exams (3) are tough.

If you are going to teach math in high school in CA, you have to pass these.

I did pass them, but I had to do a lot of reviewing. The "essay" questions at the end are very challenging. I knew existing math teachers who could not pass them and lost their jobs.

So don't say these are easy. In many cases, they are very challenging.

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Response to longship (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 03:40 PM

13. Many of them are

I don't know how tough the Oregon ORELA multiple-subject matter tests are, but I suspect that they are too much if one has been out of school for any length of time. You'd have to have a ton of prep. These tests are geared to people still in college and before they enter an education program.

In Oregon, if you are an out-of-state teacher, you have to take these idiot tests if you don't have five years of teaching experience in one subject area. That means despite having two years as a classroom teacher, three years as a sped teacher, and one year as a reading resource teacher, I am not as qualified to teach as somebody who just graduated from college and has never taught. I have to take these tests to be certified to teach in Oregon.

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Response to longship (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 04:06 PM

14. They're not as hard as many other professional tests.

That was my point, anyway. Like I posted upthread, the MTTC Spanish for Michigan was tough, but wouldn't we want it to be? Don't we want someone who can pass that kind of test teaching instead of someone who can't?

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #14)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 04:14 PM

15. Your point is well put.

But I assure you that the CA math cert is pretty damned challenging. The long answer (essay type) mathematical proof questions are very tough for anybody. The multiple choice Q's are not give away either.

You've got to know your shit to pass. Many do not pass the first time they take them.

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Response to longship (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 04:38 PM

16. And I assure you that the MTTC Spanish is tough as well.

It started with a CD playing snippets of dialogues in Spanish spoken at the usual pace, after which we had 45 seconds to answer a question, only getting to hear it twice. Then, it went on to random questions about the many countries and cultures that speak Spanish, wanting to know about music, art, dance, history, you name it. Finally, it asked specific questions about education strategies and how they appear in the classroom. It was thorough and the most challenging test I've ever taken. I've taken the NTE (general knowledge, education, and English), the PRAXIS, the MTTC English and Spanish, and by far, the Spanish was the most difficult.

Shouldn't it be, though? I want my kids to have math teachers who know and can explain math. I expect no less of myself in Spanish or English. Too many teachers fail basic tests in what we teach, and that's wrong. When our faculty had to take a practice ACT last year so we'd have an idea of how to better help our students (MI requires the ACT as the NCLB test for high schools), we had many who scored below what we request of our students--in fields they teach every day in testing styles they themselves write. There's something wrong with that picture.

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Response to longship (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 05:02 PM

18. Not easy, but a definite kind of a structure, definite kinds of strategies

required. Understandable, not easy.

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