A complaint was filed with the State Board for Educator Certification alleging that a teacher provided inappropriate assistance on the STAAR test. Following an investigation, SBEC determined that her certification should be revoked. The teacher requested a hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings to contest the imposition of sanctions on her certification.

At the hearing, the evidence showed that the teacher, who taught seventh grade math at a STEM magnet school, was assigned to remediate a group of students who initially failed the test and were scheduled to retest. The students required oral administration and other accommodations due to documented disabilities. The teacher conducted oral administration of the retest. Following the retest, SBEC received an anonymous phone call, alleging test security violations during the retest administration.

Once the complaint was received by SBEC, the district testing coordinator pulled data for all students and testing groups for the retest for all schools across the district. He sorted the data by the highest number of correct questions gained by the students and identified the schools with the highest gains. He then sorted the gains on the highest-scoring campus by test administrator. The data revealed that the teacher’s students demonstrated extraordinary gains that were considerably above what was seen on the campus and other district middle schools. For example, one student had a D average in math and answered 11 questions correctly on the first test administration, which was the lowest score in the district. However, on the retest, he answered 49 questions correctly and received the highest score on the retest, achieving a “commended” score.

Based on the data, the district questioned students who took the oral administration. The students stated that, during the exam, the teacher told them how to solve problems and used facial gestures to suggest the correct answers.

The administrative law judge concluded that the students’ unusually high scores on the retest were most likely due to improper assistance during the test administration and that test security had been violated. Based on that, the judge recommended that the teacher’s certificate be revoked. The recommendation was presented to SBEC, which voted to revoke the teacher's certification during its July 26 meeting in Austin.