PETERSBURG, Va. – Five teachers have been fired from a Virginia elementary school where some students said they were told to show their answers during standardized tests to make sure they were correct, a state report says.
The Virginia Department of Education report released this week says "inappropriate assistance" was provided to a "significant and undetermined" number of students during last spring's Standards of Learning tests at A.P. Hill Elementary School in Petersburg.
News media outlets report that some students told investigators they were told to raise their hands when they answered a question, so that a teacher could review it and encourage them to check their work if the answer was wrong.
"We had to raise our hand and the teacher checked to make sure the answer is correct," one student said, according to the report. "They would say check the question again or move on. They would not give the answer," the student said.
Superintendent Marcus Newsome said the "vast majority" of the school's teachers, staff members and administrators are "doing the right thing."
"There is no place for cheating in Petersburg City Public Schools, and I encourage all employees to report concerns about any irregularities to my office," his statement said.
The state report says the culture within the school discouraged people from reporting testing violations to the principal and assistant principal "for fear of retaliation and bullying from the school administrators and other school staff."
Then-Principal Kori Reddick is now assistant principal at Petersburg High School, and didn't immediately respond to an interview request from The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham told the newspaper that the findings are "unacceptable."
"We have to do right by our kids and give them the tools they need to succeed," Parham said. "No one wins when cheating occurs."