Monday, February 04, 2013

Teacher Caught Cheating on Praxis Exams

A cheating scandal in Memphis not around student tests, but the Praxis tests teachers must take:

Ensuing investigations ultimately led to Clarence D. Mumford Sr., 59, who pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that accused him of being the cheating ring’s 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 driver’s 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.

…Another 36 people, most of them teachers from Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, have been swept up in the federal dragnet, including Clarence Mumford Jr., Mr. Mumford’s son, and Cedrick Wilson, a former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Mr. Wilson paid $2,500 for someone to take a certification exam for physical education teachers, according to court documents.)

According to court documents, Mr. Mumford began soliciting teachers to take the Praxis exams for others in 1995, and continued to do so until at least 2010, when he retired from the Memphis schools and went to work as a guidance counselor at a small district in Arkansas. He paid the teachers from $200 to $1,000 per test.

This is an important reminder that we reformers REALLY must keep in mind: when accountability is introduced into any system, via tests or any other measures, people who can’t get over the new, higher bar will do just about anything to keep their jobs. We must anticipate this and take strong steps to deter cheating, both by making it hard to do and also by rooting out and severely punishing offenders, or cheating scandals will undermine our movement.

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