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Queens Chronicle

Cheating scandal at John Adams High?

NY Post story claims assistant principal helped students get high marks on tests

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Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2015 10:30 am

John Adams High School in Ozone Park is the latest to come under fire for alleged cheating on tests.

A New York Post story on Sunday claimed an assistant principal there helped students on a Regents exam — on which, the paper reports, “nearly everyone in the class got almost all the answers correct.”

The Post cited a letter from a “whistleblower” sent in April to Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, who referred the information to the city.

Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye said in an email on Tuesday about the alleged cheating, “There is absolutely zero tolerance for misconduct when it comes to following academic policies and ensuring the integrity of exams. We take any allegation of misconduct very seriously, and these allegations are currently under investigation.”

During an August 2014 Regents exam, the Post story states, John Adam’s Assistant Principal for English as a Second Language Breina Lampert and ESL teacher Solomon Choudhury entered a room where students were taking a test and stayed there for about 90 minutes.

Citing a report, the Post writes that every student got question 17 wrong, but most of the others right.

“It’s a good thing that Mrs. Lampert came to our room to help us,” a student told one of his colleagues, according to the Post’s account of the whisteblower’s letter.

Former Assistant Principal for Security Adam Landman reportedly told the school’s Principal Daniel Scanlon — who reportedly chose to ignore it. Scanlon could not be reached for comment on this story.

Landman, according to the Post, was transferred to supervise a far-off annex for ninth-graders.

A teacher at the high school, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he did not hear of the alleged cheating — but said he understood why one might do it.

“It’s about integrity versus keeping the school open,” the teacher said. “There are different pressures on people. It’s all about numbers.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) said it’s “unconscionable” to think that an educator would help students cheat on an exam.

“Cheating is doing a tremendous disservice to students,” Goldfeder said. “We need to make sure that students are getting the best education.”

John Adams High School is just the latest school to become embroiled in alleged cheating — others, including Richmond Hill High School, have been accused of in-house grading of state tests or creating bogus classes to help students graduate on time.

Many of the schools are part of Mayor de Blasio and city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s Renewal School program — an initiative to allocate extra resources to struggling schools in an effort to increase graduation rates.

The anonymous John Adams teacher said he hopes that if anything comes to light with the recent cheating scandal stories, it’s the pressure teachers face in trying to get their students to do well on exams.

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