Galena Park ISD discusses TAKS test cheating with parents

GALENA PARK, TX We first told you about the scandal two weeks ago. Some teachers at Normandy Crossing Elementary are accused of illegally helping students with the test.

The district will hand over its investigation to the Texas Education Agency later this week.

Galena Park school district administrators met with parents Tuesday afternoon. A lot of folks admit they are frustrated and disappointed because they feel like their kids are being punished.

With the resignations of Normandy Crossing Elementary principal Dianne Edwards and four additional educators in the wake of a TAKS test cheating scandal, frustration is mounting.

"It's happening all over, and nobody is seeing it until just now," one parent said at the meeting.

As if parents weren't upset enough with summer vacation about to get underway, on Tuesday, they were told all fifth graders will have to retake the TAKS test next month.

Jesse Realme doesn't think it's fair.

"They ought to be able to pinpoint which students got help, and which teachers did it," Realme said.

His son isn't happy about it either.

"On my math, I had got commended, and the reading I passed it, and I had good grades on those so," Jesse Realme Jr. said.

Cheating allegations are not unheard of. With the students' performance often tied to hefty teacher bonuses and job security, teachers in some school districts are under pressure.

So far this year, the Texas Education Agency is investigating 286 cases of possible test security problems reported by school districts statewide.

Last year, there were 310 cases. While the majority typically doesn't pan out in 2009, 23 educators were referred for possible sanctions on their certificate.

"That's no excuse. You do the best you can, and that's what we preach from our board on down," superintendent Dr. Richard Henry said.

The TEA will have monitors at the school to make sure security procedures are being followed.

While it means summer plans will have to be put on hold, some say their child's education comes first.

"I'm okay with whatever the school needs to do, you know," parent Sue Pitts said.

Galena Park ISD does not use TAKS test results to decide whether teachers should keep their jobs and whether teachers should get bonuses.

Fifth graders will be retested June 29 and June 30.

The school says it will offer free tutorials and it will work with students whose parents have already scheduled vacations or other events during that time.

Two employees suspended last week have been cleared, but will work at a different school next fall.

The state will decide whether to revoke certificates of the five employees who resigned.
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