Chesterfield teacher accused of cheating on SOL tests

Chesterfield teacher accused of cheating on SOL tests

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Two students at James River High School reported a teacher cheated during a Standards of Learning test in the spring.

Their accounts launched an investigation, the details of which NBC12 obtained through an open records request with the Virginia Department of Education. Multiple students in the test room recounted similar details, saying during a World History SOL the teacher "pointed at
the computer and gave clues to help [me] get the answer."

Another students claims that the teacher "was whispering answers to her and her friend. Saying letter[s] like D and B." Another writes, "I clicked on an answer and was told by my teacher that it was not right." He's accused by another student of "standing very close" and "tapping at the chairs."

The teacher involved denied the allegations, writing in a letter, "Once students began the test, I did not help any students by giving them hints, clues or any information on what the correct answers were during the test. I spent most of the period in my seat grading papers, or on my computer."

However, investigators found merit to the students allegations. The principal of James River High ultimately reported to the Department of Education the teachers actions, "created an unacceptable influence on the outcome of the SOL test."

In all, 16 students at James River were retested because of the cheating allegations. There were 117 total retests across the entire state last school year. Fifty percent of those retests happened in greater Richmond.

"Even though we administer around 4 million SOL tests a year, we see very few irregularities involving individuals who deliberately do something that is outside the boundaries," said Charles Pyle, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education. He says testing irregularities are not that common. and accusations of cheating are even more rare.

"Teachers sometimes stray from the script. Just because they are teachers, they have a desire to help students. Sometimes they'll inadvertently cross the boundary," said Pyle.

Seventeen kids were retested in Henrico because of a misplaced flash drive. Nine students in Richmond had to retake the test as a precaution because the school couldn't determine if a reading coach had given improper help.

The case against the teacher at James River High was sent to the School Board for disciplinary action. Chesterfield Schools says it can't tell us what happened to the teacher because personnel records are private.

NBC12 asked to speak with the Superintendent of Chesterfield Schools, but instead we were given a statement:

"In the spring, the school division took immediate action and worked closely with the Virginia Department of Education after learning of a potential testing irregularity at James River High School.  Federal and state law preclude the school division from further comment in order ensure the protection of student privacy and personnel matters."
Shawn Smith
Spokesman, Chesterfield Schools

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