Assessment

Mississippi Says Principal Participated in Cheating on State Tests

By Denisa R. Superville — December 17, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Mississippi elementary school principal is facing formal complaints that she participated in cheating on state standardized tests at her school in 2013.

The state department of education leveled the allegations against Lowanda Tyler-Jones, principal of Heidelberg Elementary School in the Clarksdale school district, on Wednesday. The department alleges that Tyler-Jones broke state law by knowingly and willfully cheating on state assessments and it charged that she “participated in, directed, aided, counseled, assisted in, encouraged or failed to report” cheating on standardized tests.

Tyler-Jones had previously denied the allegations, the Associated Press reports. Two teachers have also been found to have violated state law by participating in cheating at the school.

Last July, one of the teachers, Frances Smith-Kemp, admitted to breaking state law and agreed to surrender her teaching license for at least two years. The state handed down a five-year teacher license suspension on another teacher, Tetra Winters, in November after it determined that she violated state law by “knowingly and willfully cheating on state assessments during the 2012-13 school year at Heidelberg Elementary School.

The state flagged the school’s test scores after Tyler-Jones became principal of the school in 2012. In one semester the school jumped from a D to a B grade in the school-rating system. The following year, 2013, the school’s grade went from a B to an A, according to the Associated Press.

The district’s superintendent, Dennis Dupree, conducted an investigation into the remarkable increase in the school’s test scores, but concluded that he found nothing wrong, the news agency reported. Dupree has also forcefully defended the school and district against cheating allegations.

In 2013, the district received a $10 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and Dupree received national recognition for improvements in the district during his tenure. In 2014, Dupree was selected as one of 16 educators profiled in Education Week‘s Leaders to Learn From, which highlights the work of innovative school district leaders across the country.

The local paper, the Clarion-Ledger followed up on the superintendent’s investigation, finding that test results in the school had been falsified. That prompted the state to act. It hired Utah-based Caveon Test Security to look into the allegations.

Caveon’s report in August 2014 found that “reasonable cause existed to believe that Clarksdale Municipal School District (CMSD) employees engaged in or were aware of potential violations of Mississippi testing regulations,” according to the state education agency.

The state is seeking to revoke Tyler-Jones’ administrator license. She is expected to appear before the state’s teacher-licensure commission on Jan. 18.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Image of a test sheet.
sengchoy/iStock/Getty