According to a memo released yesterday by the Special Commissioner of Investigation, the late principal of an early-elementary school in Harlem who jumped onto the subway tracks this spring—the same day that cheating allegations were brought against her—forged "multiple answers on multiple students' answer sheets" after several of her students failed to finish their state tests in the time allotted.
Across the state, third-graders are allotted three 70 minute sessions over the course of three days to complete the State's Third Grade English Language Arts exam.
It was previously reported that former Teachers College Community School Principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, had been "the subject of allegations of testing improprieties." However, the nature of that cheating had been kept in the dark. It is still unclear whether Worrell-Breeden was aware of the allegations when she committed suicide.
On April 17th, SCI Robert Small received an e-mail from an anonymous whistleblower alleging that Worrell-Breeden had confided either directly to the whistleblower or to a third party (redactions make this unclear) that she had forged multiple test answers for students who had failed to complete their Language Arts exam on April 14th. Small interviewed the whistleblower on May 18th, and "confirmed...the forgoing allegations."
However, because Worrell-Breeden died on April 25th after eight days in the hospital with injuries sustained from her jump, Small points out in his letter that "no further disciplinary action can be taken." As per his recommendation, the DOE closed the case.
In a statement accompanying yesterday's memo, DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said, "Ensuring the integrity of assessments for all New York City students is critical to measuring students’ progress and holding schools accountable."
Teachers College Community School was founded in 2011, and this year marked its first with a third-grade class eligible for state assessment. The NY Times points out that last year in Harlem's Community School District Five, only 15% of 3rd- through 8th-graders scored proficient on the English exam.
On April 6th, a week before this year's exam, Capital reported that the State Education Department had briefly considered, and then rejected, a proposal to give third graders across the state unlimited time because "parents and teachers have complained that students have struggled to finish the English exams."
While all 47 third graders at Teacher's College Community School had their tests invalidated, they will all advance to the fourth grade.