STAAR test accusations leads to teacher termination

As we inch closer to STAAR testing days, the Dawg has found two decisions by the Commissioner that deal with accusations of improprieties in test administration.  We’ll take up one case today and the other one tomorrow.

A teacher in Trenton ISD was terminated based on evidence that she tampered with STAAR test answers, and failed to account for activity funds she was responsible for.  The case is a good illustration of how the “substantial evidence” rule works when a teacher appeals an adverse decision to the Agency.  Consider this:

While the evidence presented does not conclusively prove that [the teacher] changed the students’ answers, a reasonable finder of fact could determine that [she] made the changes. The Independent Hearing Examiner’s determination that [the teacher] changed the Students’ answers is supported by substantial evidence.

In other words: we’re not sure that you did it, but the hearing examiner thinks you did, and there is evidence in the record to support that conclusion. 

The teacher argued that the investigation of STAAR improprieties was poorly handled, but the Commissioner brushed that off, noting that even if the investigation was less than perfect, the teacher had an ample opportunity to defend herself before the independent hearing examiner.

The second basis for the teacher’s termination was her mishandling of activity funds. We’re going to save discussion of that for Friday.  But do tune in on Friday, because this is a textbook case of what can happen when a teacher is sloppy in bookkeeping. 

This one is Burk v. Trenton ISD, decided by the Commissioner on December 20, 2019. It’s Docket No. 018-R2-11-2019. 


Tomorrow: do you know what a “whisper phone” is?