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Popular teacher allegedly did students' work for them - and everyone passed

Open Justice,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Jun 2023, 11:38AM
Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

Popular teacher allegedly did students' work for them - and everyone passed

Open Justice,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Jun 2023, 11:38AM

A popular technology teacher is in the firing line after allegedly falsifying students’ work and marking them as passed. It’s claimed he even went so far as to complete an entire sketch that made up a large part of one student’s assessment.

The North Island teacher, whose name and the school and area he worked at are suppressed, is charged with serious misconduct before a hearing of the Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal this week.

It’s alleged that while teaching students the skills required to complete a ‘conceptual design’ assessment, he passed off his own written notes and sketches on the assessments as the students’ work.

Not all work submitted by the students met the minimum standard required for a pass mark, but the teacher gave all students ‘achieved’ or ‘merit’ grades - even though it’s alleged 80 per cent of the assessments were identical.

It’s alleged the teacher allowed his students to stencil the sketches that made up a large part of the assessment. He also is said to have posted similar exemplars in the classroom for the students to follow.

The tribunal yesterday heard evidence from two senior staff at the school, including the head of technology at the time the teacher was employed.

She had been mentoring the teacher, who she described as popular and well-liked, providing guidance on marking and moderation.

While reviewing students’ assessments, she discovered they had been marked with ‘achieved’ or ‘merit’ grades although she didn’t feel the work met the requirements for a pass mark.

She also noted two different sets of handwriting on some assessments, while many appeared to be a “direct copy and paste”. There were no references to sources.

There were “obvious authenticity issues,” the teacher said. “It was clear the work wasn’t at the required level.”

She told the tribunal it was clear some of the handwriting was from the teacher. It was “always preferable” a teacher didn’t write on assessments, and official guidance discouraged it.

She approached the school’s principal, explaining many of the assessments appeared the same. A meeting was held between the head of technology, the teacher in question and the principal.

The head said after this meeting the teacher declined to change the marks, believing they were suitable.

She was then sufficiently concerned to ask a similarly-experienced teacher at a nearby school to meet for “desperately needed advice”. She showed her the work, and this teacher provided a written report saying the work was concerning and didn’t meet the standard required.

She says she also spoke to some of the students. All initially said the work was their own, but one student allegedly said they were “helped” by the teacher, while another student allegedly said “[the teacher] did that one”, referring to one of his three sketches as part of his assessment.

The teacher later resigned from the school and the students were offered the opportunity to resubmit. At that point, only some of the students scraped through, while others still failed.

The hearing continues today, when it’s expected the principal of the school will give evidence. The teacher’s lawyer Dzintra King is yet to call witnesses.

The prosecuting body, the Complaints Assessment Committee, is represented by Rebecca Scott.

Ethan Griffiths covers crime and justice stories nationwide for Open Justice. He joined NZME in 2020, previously working as a regional reporter in Whanganui and South Taranaki.

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