A middle-school teacher in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio resigned on Tuesday over charges that she told a bunch of gifted fifth- and sixth-grade students to fail a science test on purpose.
The teacher, Heather Campbell, allegedly told her students to draw pictures of stuff instead of actually attempting to answer questions, reports The Columbus Dispatch. They allegedly responded by illustrating things like cats and rocks in the places where they supposed to provide test answers. They also scribbled shorthand texting slang such as LOL and IDK.
Campbell, 39, had been a second-year teacher at Waggoner Road Junior High School in Reynoldsburg.
The test, a science assessment, was part of the local school district’s new teacher evaluation system. Under the new system, the district will grade all teachers. Among the criteria is a measurement of how much students have improved over the course of the school year. Presumably, the test near the beginning of the year would serve as a benchmark.
Classroom observation makes up the other part of the grading criteria.
Campbell’s motivations were not clear. The Dispatch was unable to contact her.
Steve Dackin, the superintendent of Reynoldsburg City Schools, noted that poor results by her students at the beginning of the year combined with better results on the later assessment could be advantageous for Campbell in her evaluation.
“Theoretically, she would have benefited because it would have been reflected in her scores,” he told The Dispatch.
The district initiated an investigation of the situation in September after a parent tipped off school officials that Campbell had instructed students to “do poorly” on the science test.
Campbell allegedly promised her charges that she “would never tell them not to try hard again, only on this.” She also suggested that she would have to skip over particular science topics in class if students did too well on the fall test.
Campbell also allegedly said nobody would review the test results and made fun of the test questions, calling them badly designed.
In an interview with the district before she submitted her resignation, Campbell refuted the allegations against her. She said she did not know what was on the test because she didn’t look at it before students took it (The district reportedly wanted teachers to review the test.)
Campbell also claimed that she collected the answer sheets without reviewing them and wasn’t aware that students were drawing cats and rocks all over the tests.