Baltimore Schools Chief Vows Cheating Crackdown

BALTIMORE (WJZ) –The head of Baltimore City schools vows to crack down on cheating after a test tampering scandal. Now parents are having their say.

Mike Hellgren has their message to educators.

Many parents are outraged over the cheating scandal involving two Baltimore city schools: Fort Worthington and Abbottston elementary schools, where state investigators noted a large number of erasure marks on Maryland assessment tests, changed answers, and at Fort Worthington, they also found altered attendance records.

Three of Ethel Smithson’s children attend Fort Worthington.

“It’s wrong,” Smithson said. “If they’re changing the answers, that means they’re not teaching our children.”

“The school is out of control.  You hear me.  It’s out of control.” 

While some parents are satisfied with Fort Worthington, “I see pretty good changes in the school,” said Jermel Miles, parent.

Even those within their ranks believe the cheating scandal is shortchanging their kids “because you don’t know what they’re capable of doing if you’re changing the answers,” said Tiffany Witherspoon, parent. 

This is the second cheating scandal in city schools in the past year.

Test results carry high stakes for administrators and teachers. The system has spent almost $ 400,000 on test monitors in every school.

“It is not tolerated,” said Dr. Andres Alonso, city schools’ CEO. “It is not going to be tolerated.  The consequences will be dire.”

Even the students know cheating is wrong.

“It’s bad for you, and if you cheat, you might go back to the same grade you were in already,” said Cherice Mims, Fort Worthington student. 

That’s a lesson some staff apparently are learning the hard way.

The state gets about 200 complaints of cheating every year.

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