Mom speaks out on test procedures - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mom speaks out on test procedures

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A Dougherty County mother says her son's teacher encouraged him to cheat on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test.

She says a state investigation that raised questions about the integrity of testing in Dougherty County convinced her to come forward.

The mother says a teacher prompted her son to change wrong answers, and when she told administrators, they denied it.

This incident happened three years ago, Hilda Shires sent letters then to the Governor, the state School Superintendent, and the Dougherty County Superintendent. She says the only response came from the Governor. School Administrators today told me they did investigate the claim.

Last week, when Dougherty County Schools were accused of having a suspiciously high number of changed answers on CRCTs, Hilda Shines wasn't surprised. She was surprised three years ago when her son's CRCT Math scores suddenly jumped.

"Joseph has attention deficit, and his scores were always lower, but this particular round he scored 321 on the math CRCT and it waved a red flag for us," said Shines.

It was more than 30 points higher than previous tests. She started asking questions and Joseph confessed he had some coaching.

"He sat on her right at her desk and whenever he would mark a wrong answer she would clear her throat to say, to let him know that's not right," said Shines.

She claims it's not something her son would make up, so she took the concerns to administrators, who she says denied there was a problem. "When we approached the school with it they said that there was no way possible that, that could happen."

School Administrators did investigate the claim. "Following their questioning of people following the case, the parents, the student, the teacher those who would know the work situation, this case was unfounded," said R. D. Harter, DCSS Public Information Officer.

While administrators have heard rumors of other cases, they know people may be hesitant to come forward, but encourage them report problems.

"We can best deal with problems with issues with suspected cheating during the testing season," said Harter.

Hilda Shires worries if it happened to her son, it may be happening still. She hopes the further investigation reveals something more. 

In Shines' case, nothing was done with the teacher, because the claim was unfounded.

The teacher was terminated in May of 2008 from the Dougherty County School System, but the district couldn't say what the circumstances were, only that it was not related to Shines' allegations.

School system administrators say they're still waiting on more information and a panel to be put together to investigate the CRCT erasure allegations.

A letter Dr. Whatley sent to parents explaining the investigation is on the school system's website. 



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