Atlanta math teacher Shayla Smith is now without a job after she allegedly admitted to cheating on tests for students to improve performance of her students, Smith allegedly explained that the illegal assistance was needed because the students were “dumb as hell.”
Smith was responsible for supervising students during tests. Another teacher, Schajuan Jones, who taught a fourth-grade class, says that she heard Smith telling another teacher “I had to give your kids . . . the answers because they’re dumb as hell.”
Smith was found guilty by a teacher’s “tribunal” of willful neglect and immorality. (Frankly, there is something about tribunals handing down immorality convictions that is a bit unsettling). She was fired.
Assuming that she denied the statement allegedly overheard by the other teacher, the ruling appears based on circumstantial evidence in a large degree. The tribunal looked at suspicious erasure marks and found that it was “practically impossible frequency of changes from wrong to right [answers].” I found that statement fascinating since I would assume that many erased answers have a higher likelihood of being right after the test taker reconsidered his or her analysis. It turns out that the old saying that “your first guess is usually right” on exams is actually wrong. One study indicated that
To establish the first-instinct fallacy, the researchers examined the introductory psychology midterm exams of 1,561 University of Illinois students for eraser marks. They counted the number of times students changed answers and found that 51 percent of the changes were from wrong to right, 25 percent were from right to wrong and 23 percent were from wrong to wrong. Changes from wrong to right outnumbered changes from right to wrong 2-to-1, Kruger points out.
Of course, the testimony of the other teacher likely sank any defense. What is clear is that the students are “dumb as hell” is not going to get much traction in a disciplinary proceeding.