Spalding High discards students' midyear tests

Two teachers gave answers for exam during study session

Severn

February 01, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

Archbishop Spalding High School has thrown out the midyear religion exams of 700 students because their teachers gave them the questions and answers before the test.

In review sessions before the exams, two religion teachers read the questions virtually word for word, then discussed the answers with students, said the school's president, Michael E. Murphy.

While only a handful of students attended the voluntary review sessions, they copied the questions in front of the teachers and later made photocopies for their classmates, several students said.

"A lot of students had the questions" before they sat for the Jan. 24 exams, said Lisa Tokarcik, a sophomore from Severn.

The discarded exams were from all sophomore, junior and senior religion classes.

No students will be punished, Murphy said.

"Appropriate action" is being taken against the two teachers, he said, declining to give more details. Both teachers remain on the school's staff.

He declined to identify the two teachers but said one is in his first year at the school.

"The teachers were trying to make sure the students understood [the material] and just basically went over the line," Murphy said. "It wasn't a bright thing to do, to read the questions."

Students who wish to retake the religion exam will be given another test.

Otherwise, the school will average the grades from the first two quarters to determine students' semester grades.

Murphy first heard from a parent Jan. 23 - the day before the exam - that copies of the exam questions were circulating among students. Students took the exams, but they were never graded.

"I felt the exams were compromised in terms of some students having an unfair advantage over others," he said.

He first decided to make all sophomores, juniors and seniors take a new exam.

But after complaints from students and scheduling problems, he relented this week and made the exam optional.

"I don't think that many will retake it," Murphy said.

The exams that were thrown out had slightly more than 100 questions, and the teachers supplied about 90 of them to students "word for word," Tokarcik said.

"They were just reading right off it," she said.

As a result of the incident, Spalding, a 940-student Roman Catholic school in Severn, is forming a faculty committee to draw up guidelines for teachers who conduct review sessions.

"If you don't have academic integrity, then you don't have a leg to stand on," Murphy said.

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