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Louisville Male High Principal, Others Face Discipline For ACT Cheating Scandal

Three Louisville Male High School staff members, including the principal, could have their teaching certificates revoked or face other disciplinary measures following a state investigation outlining cheating on a state test at the school.The Kentucky Education Department report released Monday said Male High Principal David Mike, counselor Rhonda Branch and teacher Debbie Greenberg intentionally “failed to ensure the integrity” of the school’s administration of the ACT Compass test.  The three have been referred to the State Education Professional Standards board for review.The ACT Compass test is a computer-based test that evaluates students’ skill levels.  The test is a component in the college- and career-readiness portion of schools' accountability scores.Here are some of the education department's findings:

  • Students were instructed to sign in to “practice tests” with usernames that “should only have been used by KY test administrators.” The username enabled the students to see a “live test,” which could have the same questions as the test they were set to take.
  • Students were permitted by staff to complete the “practice test” multiple times in order to reach a desired score set by Greenberg.  Once a student reached the score, only then were they permitted to complete the actual test. One student said he/she took the “practice test” nearly 15 times.
  • Students reported they received help on the ACT Compass test from Greenberg, Mike and Branch.
  • Staff members indicated that Mike and Greenberg told them what to say to investigators when questioned.  One student indicated she was “intimidated or bullied” by Mike into lying about cheating.
  • Staff did not participate in the training updates for Compass assessment before test administration in fall 2013.

In December, the ACT receive allegations that Male staff members assisted students with exams and launched an investigation soon after. The Kentucky Department of Education also launched an investigation.ACT investigators sent a letter to Jefferson County Public Schools and Mike in June recommending he not be involved in any future process of administering ACT exams.  Mike was reassigned to administrative duties at JCPS central office.  Related: Louisville Male High School Principal Reassigned Amid State, ACT InvestigationsThe Educational Professional Standards Board review could lead to the revocation of the educators' teaching certificate, said Alicia Sneed, the director of legal services for the Educational Professional Standards Board.“We are literally taking away your ability practice your chosen profession,” she said.It's too early to know how quickly the EPSB reviews will be complete.JCPS is also conducting a separate investigation of Mike,though a school spokesman said in May that the inquiry was unrelated to the test scandal.In a statement, JCPS officials said the district is closely examining the education department's findings as part of our own investigation.“JCPS takes the recommendations in this report very seriously and will ensure the employees mentioned follow these directives so that student learning and achievement remain the focus of their efforts," the statement said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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