Students Aren’t Always the Cheater

According to an article written by Motoko Rich for the New York Times, it seems that students are not the only ones in the school system that cheat to gain success. A former Memphis school district assistant principal and guidance counselor, Clarence Mumford, has been caught running a test cheating ring. What I found so astonishing about this particular occurrence was that the cheating ring spanned three states: Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. I’ve heard of teachers helping students cheat in order to boost test score reports, but this is the first time I had ever heard of teachers cheating in order to become teachers.

Mumford was creating false identification for test takers so that they could hire another person to take their test for them. In this case, the individuals involved with Mumford were cheating on the Praxis Exams. Rich explains that the Praxis Exams are, “are taken by people who want to obtain a teaching license or to acquire additional credentials in a specific subject.” These exams are comparable to the MTEL’s that Massachusetts requires of licensed teachers.

So what does all this mean when it concerns students? I found it shocking that individuals who wanted to become an educator, people who shape young minds, were taking such a deceitful route that, hopefully, they would never encourage their students to take. Sarah Almy, the director of teacher quality at Education Trust, sees this as a concern as well: “‘The fact that there were folks who felt like they needed to bring somebody else in in order to meet a very basic level of content knowledge is disturbing, in particular for the kids those teachers are going to wind up teaching.'”

I also find this very troublesome. Not only were these people involved in the cheating ring acting less than honorably, they required someone else to take the test for them because they didn’t know the information required to pass. If these basic requirements are now a major concern for future teachers, so much so they are willing to go outside the law, what does this mean about the quality of teachers nowadays? Hopefully more of these cheating rings can be brought to justice. Mumford ran his reportedly from 1995 until at least 2010. There is really nothing more detrimental to a students education than an unqualified teacher.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Students Aren’t Always the Cheater

  1. clarkhseiler

    The notion that prospective teachers feel pressured enough to cheat on a licensure exam, to me seems to suggest a greater systemic problem. What does it say about our national and local education systems, that both students and teachers feel compelled to cheat in order to succeed? What does the privileging of text based information through mandated examinations say about what we value as educators, or more importantly, what does it say about what we value as a country?

    I don’t propose to have a solution for what seems like a wide reaching systemic problem for both prospective and current teachers. I will say however that without any push for reform of teacher licensure and student evaluation, I can guarantee that this kind of rampant cheating from both sides will no doubt continue. Maybe there’s a way in which to screen and evaluate hopeful teachers in a classroom environment. I don’t mean to suggest that teachers shouldn’t be held accountable for a depth of content knowledge; however, being able to demonstrate that knowledge in a one time, text based examination doesn’t necessarily ensure the licensure of an effective teacher. If we expect real world results in advancing the learning of students, I think we should be able to evaluate prospective and current educators in real world environments and situations.

  2. Shocking! I completely agree that these rings need to be brought to justice. It is a shame that things like this exist especially in a field like education that has such importance on peoples lives. I find it really hard to believe that there are teacher out there, who are expected to teach anti-cheating ethics to students, who have cheated. It is no wonder that students from other countries seem so advanced. When I read stories like this it tells a lot about our country’s educational system. If this is the route that people are willing to take what is even the point of implementing the tests. Maybe it is time for some unconventional testing like, watching a prospective teacher in the classroom, or with students, something that would prove their true desire to teach.I really question the motives of the teachers who participated in this ring because if they did not have the basic skills to pass the test, or the basic desire, why did they go through all the trouble to cheat into a job they really did not want to do? I know it wasn’t the pay check so it is just puzzling, and once again shocking!

  3. mofulco

    It is very hard for me to believe, or to understand, how such a thing was even a possibilityA What teacher, who hopes to shape young minds as a living, feels the need to cheat their way into this profession? It is like a doctor who finds another to take their boards. I agree that this is something that should have been more closely watched and punished, as being a teacher is perhaps one of the most important professions. As teachers, who throughly encourage students to never cheat, I find their own cheating to be absurd. I think this is something that should have bore greater punishment, and should continuously be monitored and honored.

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