Report: Principal Eyed for School Cheating

Principal told teachers to point out mistakes on standardized tests, report says.

An attorney investigating alleged cheating on the Connecticut Mastery Test at a Waterbury elementary school said it appears to have been orchestrated by the principal and a reading teacher.

Frederick Dorsey's report to state officials says other Hopeville School teachers also improperly coached students to change their wrong answers, but mostly because they feared reprisals from Principal Maria Moulthrop.

The investigation was launched after Hopeville's CMT scores for grades 3, 4 and 5 jumped dramatically and a review of test sheets found many wrong answers had been changed.

Some teachers said they were told to read the tests ahead of time so they would know the correct answers and “walk by a student, pause, look down and say ‘check your work’ in a manner designed to indicate to the student that an answer was wrong and should be changed,” the reports says. The principal denied having done this, according to the report.

Students told the investigator that teachers did say “check your work” and they understood that that meant an answer needed to be changed.

Dorsey said that, while several other teachers participated in improper proctoring activities, it was mostly fear of reprisals from Moulthrop, Dorsey wrote.

According to Dorsey's report, the pressure for strong test scores was so intense that art, music and library time were replaced with testing drills in the weeks before the March test, and indoor recess was frowned upon because the principal wanted the time spent preparing for the test.

When students missed school because of snow days, the school sent home test preparation packets -- enough that numerous parents complained about the heavy workload on top of regular homework.

Moulthrop is on administrative leave and has not returned messages from The Associated Press and the Republican-American, which reported Dorsey's findings on Wednesday.

Waterbury Superintendent of Schools David Snead said on Thursday that he was still reading the report and would meet with his Board of Education to determine who might face discipline hearings and when.

"Once we agree on the process, then we'll act. And that process will obviously include interviews and disciplinary hearings and appropriate sanctions," Snead said.

Moulthrop and the reading teacher denied wrongdoing in interviews with Dorsey. Waterbury's superintendent said they are reviewing the report to determine whether to launch disciplinary proceedings.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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