Five teachers and two administrators at a Galena Park elementary school in Houston, Texas have been suspended amid cheating allegations.
The Galena Park Indpendent School District is investigating allegations of testing irregularities at Normandy Crossing Elementary School. Among the suspended are Principal Dianne Edwards and Assistant Principal Tonia Bush.
Superintendent Mark Henry said cheating will not be tolerated anywhere in the school district.
"We are aggressively investigating this case, and if these allegations prove true, we will take the strongest possible action against these employees," Henry said. "When adults tamper with the integrity of the testing process, they do significant harm to children. Our community, our school district will not stand for our children to be cheated."
The investigation showed that a small group of school employees were involved in changing some fifth-grade students' answers on the TAKS tests in April. Some employees also are believed to have alerted students when their test answers were wrong so that they could change the answers.
The investigation shows the integrity of the test document was compromised and that answer sheets were produced in advance of the administration of the test and given to some of the teachers involved.
School officials have notified the Texas Education Agency of its suspicions. Galena Park officials said it launched the investigation after an employee came forward on Monday and reported concerns about the unexpectedly very strong TAKS test scores among a group of children who suffer from learning disabilities.
The investigation showed that on test day in April, some fifth-grade teachers were reassigned to other duties while teachers from other grade levels were brought in to administer the test to the fifth graders.
At Galena Park, teachers normally administer the test to their own students.
"The testing irregularities seem to have been designed to improve the scores of some students who were not expected to perform at a high level on the test," said Henry.
According to the district, one administrator at the school has admitted the cheating took place. One teacher confirmed being asked to create a test study guide that was so specific that officials believe the information in the guide came directly from the test.
Some students questioned as part of the investigation also confirmed getting help on the test from some teachers.
Some parents of students who attend the school are outraged.
"That is not the environment that I want my child around. That is not the right school for him because the kids look up to the principals and teachers and they are setting a bad example," concerned parent Margarita Anaya said.
The school has received the academic exemplary status for two years. The seven employees have been suspended with pay.