HISD fires, reprimands and probes

HISD fires, reprimands and probes
Following a Houston Independent School District internal investigation and an in-depth two-part series on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test by Houston Press writer Shaila Dewan, HISD has fired one teacher and has reprimanded a principal after evidence showed that cheating occurred on last year's TAAS test.

Kashmere Gardens Elementary and its principal, Margaret Jefferson, were featured in the first part of the series by Dewan, who talked to present and former teachers at the school who suspected school employees tampered with student answer forms to improve the school's scores. As Dewan's article stated, statistical evidence gathered by the state showed, for instance, that a third-grade Kashmere Gardens class had 15 times more erasures than the state average and that 100 percent of the answers were changed from wrong to right.

The HISD investigation showed that an answer key was improperly used to change the test answers of students from one classroom at Kashmere Gardens Elementary and also showed that security was lax during administration of the test. According to HISD, Principal Jefferson received a "strong reprimand" March 5 and a notice that the investigation is ongoing. Teacher Frankie Garner was fired. Garner had been named for five consecutive years on the state report which lists classrooms that have had a larger-than-normal number of erasures on the TAAS test.

HISD also reprimanded Principal Nobleton Jones of Cullen Middle School for failing to maintain adequate security during its test. The district found that an answer key was used to change two students' test answers, but HISD says it does not know who made the changes.

HISD began its internal investigation in July 1998 and is focusing on 56 classrooms in eight schools.

Dewan's two-part series on the TAAS test ran February 25 and March 4.
Published:Erroneous information was provided to the Houston Press by Houston Independent School District last week and was published in a story entitled "HISD fires, reprimands and probes." In a correction memo, HISD spokesman Terry Abbott says that the name of Kashmere Gardens Elementary School teacher Frankie Garner was not listed on an erasure analysis of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills for five years, as previously reported. (An erasure analysis shows how many times answers on a test are changed.) This information, Abbott says, "does not change HISD's decision to terminate the teacher based on the investigation showing that answers on the TAAS test were changed."

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