Hundreds of high school seniors in Texas were caught cheating on their final exams last month. Now, officials at the southeast Houston Clear Creek Independent School District are investigating how around 200 students at Clear Lake High School acquired test answers before the exam in December.
Educators at Clear Lake realized that about a third of the exams had identical answers. As a result, administrators nulled all 600 tests, and offered the students two options: take the test again or have their final grade calculated without a final exam grade.
"We're committed to determine how the test was accessed, how it was distributed, what we can do as a school, as a school district, to ensure our internal processes to make sure that this doesn't happen again," Clear Creek ISD spokesperson Elaina Polson told KTRK.
The test was administered over several days. The test on the second day was a different version from the first, but school officials said some students gave answers that corresponded to questions on the test from the day before, KTRK reports.
In a letter to parents and students, Principal Debra Dixon wrote that students will receive an "incomplete" grade until they make a decision on whether to skip or retake the exam, Your Houston News reports. Clear Lake High School was rated "Exemplary" in 2009 and 2010.
Those who are found to have cheated on the exam may receive a zero, in compliance with the student code of conduct, according to KTRK. Disciplinary action against those caught will be determined following individual investigations.
Lisa Maxwell-Malik, the mother of a Clear Lake senior, told KPRC-TV that she wished administrators had told students of the testing re-administration earlier so they wouldn't have entered winter break with the pretense that they were done with the first semester subject, but the incident overall is still disturbing.
"That's pretty bad," Maxwell-Malik told KPRC-TV. "It's disappointing."
In November, the last of 20 students accused in an SAT cheating ring turned themselves in to New York authorities for accepting payments of between $500 and $3,600 to impersonate other students on college entrance exams.
The surrendered students are facing misdemeanor charges, and the scandal has prompted a review by a New York Senate subcommittee on higher education.