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2 Minnesota schools find teachers cheated on MCAs by helping students

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Teachers at schools in Cannon Falls and St. Paul have acknowledged cheating on state tests by helping students answer math questions, causing the districts to throw out dozens of test results from this spring's Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, the Pioneer Press reports.

The newspaper requested reports from the state Department of Education on suspected security violations during this year's MCAs.

The documents show the state found that a teacher monitoring a test for fifth-graders at Cannon Falls Elementary admitted pointing students toward correct answers both verbally and by writing on scratch paper. The 16-year veteran teacher has now resigned, the Pioneer Press says.

The state reports show that a teacher giving a math test to seventh-graders at St. Paul's Linwood Monroe school was also found to have prompted students. The school district tells the newspaper the teacher has been placed on administrative leave.

The findings mean a combined total of 47 test scores will be discarded.

This year's MCAs were marred by computer glitches that led the Education Department to suspend the tests in April and again in May.

Pearson, the testing company that provided the exams, said in both cases the disruptions were caused by cyberattacks and said it solved them by tightening security. But Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius said the company deserved a failing grade for its handling of the tests.

Results of the MCAs do not affect students' grades or graduation but are used by the state to measure the performance of schools and teachers.

The Pioneer Press says the most common security violations involved the use of cell phones, which are prohibited during tests.

While one St. Paul student was caught using Google to search for the answer to a question, most of the violations were by students using phones to listen to music or receive text messages during an exam.

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