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Male High principal cited in ACT cheating scandal

By Chris Kenning The Courier-Journal

A Kentucky Department of Education investigation has found several standardized test violations at Male High School and has referred former principal David Mike and two other staffers to the Education Professional Standards Board, where they could face sanctions.

The report, released Monday, followed months of scrutiny after students alleged Mike and others helped them cheat on a standardized test - and then asked them to lie to ACT officials investigating him in December.

Mike, who took over the job of principal last year at Male - one of the district's higher-performing high schools - has already been reassigned to non-instructional duties and prohibited from administering ACT tests without permission.

In addition to Mike, counselor Rhonda Branch and teacher Debbie Greenberg have also been referred to the Education Professional Standards Board. All three are being referred because the violations could prove to be intentional, KDE commissioner Terry Holliday said.

KDE's investigation into the administration of the ACT Compass Test in 2013 at the school found several violations, according to the report, including:

n Students were assisted by teachers and other students answering Kentucky Compass secure test items while using a Compass diagnostic program as a practice test.

n Students were allowed to take a practice test repeatedly, increasing their exposure to real test items.

n Proctors helped students answer live test items during practice test sessions.

The report says that it was not "general knowledge" that there were live ACT Compass test questions on the "practice tests" when the events took place.

Nevertheless, "these actions increased the number of students who reached college readiness and improved Louisville Male High School's overall" state accountability rating, the report said.

The report also cited apparent attempts to cover up the incidents, including a finding from interviews that Mike told a teacher to destroy student "practice test" notebooks instead of sending them to ACT.

"Two staff members indicated that Mr. Mike and/or Ms. Greenberg tried to coach them as to what to say to the investigators when questioned. A student indicated she felt intimidated or bullied by Mr. Mike into lying for him about the Compass cheating," the report said.

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