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Unbelievable School Decisions: Cheating Teachers

As long as there have been tests, there has been cheating. A recently discovered cheating ring, however, has revealed a new group of test-takers trying to game the system—teachers.

spies like usPolice in Tennessee have arrested Clarence Mumford, Sr. and accused him of masterminding a massive cheating syndicate designed to help would-be teachers pass the Praxis Exam. Police say that Mumford received between $1,500 and $3,000 to send an impostor to take the test. It is believed that Mumford began the cheating service in 1995 and that it operated for 15 years.

The Praxis Exam is used by many states to ensure that classroom teachers meet a minimum standard of knowledge. Without passing the test, a teaching candidate cannot be hired. Mumford’s actions resulted in dozens of otherwise-unqualified teachers getting into classrooms in three states.

Mumford allegedly ran his operation via the mail and Internet. The AP reports that he allegedly made “fake driver's licenses with the information of a teacher or an aspiring teacher and attached the photograph of a test-taker. Prospective teachers are accused of giving Mumford their Social Security numbers for him to make the fake identities.

The hired test-takers went to testing centers, showed the proctor the fake license, and passed the certification exam, prosecutors say. Then, the aspiring teacher used the test score to secure a job with a public school district, the indictment alleges.”

If Mumford is found guilty, the case would prove that thousands of students in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee were subjected to educators who were not qualified to teach. It would also mean that Mumford will be spending between two and 20 years in prison for each of the charges against him. He currently faces over 60 charges of conspiracy and fraud.

What makes this story even worse is the fact that the test in question isn’t even that difficult. Even if one did manage to fail, prospective teachers can simply re-take the test until they pass, much like the Bar Exam. One teacher, Nina Monfredo of Memphis, TN, described the Praxis Exam to the AP, saying that anyone with a high school education could pass it with little preparation.

“If you feel like you can’t pass and you hire someone, it means you really didn't know what you were doing,” she said. “I think it would be easier to just learn what's on the test.”

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Read other articles in the Unbelievable School Decisions series:

Unbelievable School Decisions: Your Teacher Isn’t Really Dead
Unbelievable School Decisions: Child Stranded in Tree
Unbelievable School Decisions: Kids Made to Don Prison Jumpsuits
Unbelievable School Decisions: Baby Bunnies Buried Alive
Unbelievable School Decisions: "Pucker Up" Pep Rally

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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