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Accused of helping students cheat on a test? Legal advice for teachers.

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2017

Standardized tests like End-of-Course Assessments (EOC), Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), statewide science assessment, and National and International Assessments (NAEP, PIRLS, PISA, and TIMSS) are proctored by teachers. A test administrator will train teachers as test proctors. Teachers may then be inappropriately placed into the test room to proctor their own subject. The test is submitted, test materials brought back to the test administrator and the teacher thinks they have completed the test administration. Then, out of nowhere, a Department of Education (DOE) certified letter arrives. This DOE letter states that the teacher is being investigated for helping students cheat on the standardized assessment. What can a teacher do when they are accused of giving unauthorized test assistance to students?

What should a teacher do when accused of helping students cheat on a standardized test?

  1. Write down everything you can remember about your training – Think back to when you were trained by the test administrator. Did they cover all of the necessary steps? Did you feel comfortable with the test administration training you were provided? What redirection techniques were you told to use?
  2. What student testing redirection techniques were you told to use? – Schools advise teachers to use tapping on the desks as a way to redirect and refocus students. This form of redirection has then been misinterpreted by students as giving answers to the standardized test.
  3. Did anyone come into the room while you were administering the test? – If any other person came into the testing room, they should have signed the log. Other individuals in the room will impact the investigation.
  4. Did you co-administrate the test with another teacher? – What was the behavior of the other teacher like during the test administration? Was the other teacher trained and did they act appropriately?

How to handle the DOE investigation of helping students cheat on a standardized test?

  1. Don’t write or give any further information when first confronted with the charges – I advise against giving statements without a full review of the documents and other statements being used to support the charges. Many teachers will readily admit or even deny the charges in writing. These documented admissions are used to bolster the DOE’s case against the teacher. A well-crafted rebuttal to the charges could impact the investigation in a positive way for the accused teacher.
  2. Contact an Education Law Attorney immediately – The sooner an education lawyer who defends teachers against DOE matters is involved, the better. A teacher defense lawyer can limit the impact of the charges at both the school and state level. It is also important to consider the writing skills of any lawyer you contact. Most of the investigation submissions are written rebuttals. An education lawyer with strong writing skills is necessary for Department of Education cases.

Click to read our post of FSA and EOC administration tips to protect teachers from accusations of misconduct here. Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey. He is experienced in defending all types of teacher misconduct and discipline charges at the school, district, and state level. Call today and The Education Lawyers will fight to protect your teaching license. 855-338-5299