2 B.C. teachers suspended for letting students view 'secure exams'
An empty classroom is seen in this file photo. (The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER – Teachers from two B.C. school districts have been suspended after helping students "prepare" for provincial exams by letting them view some of the questions in advance.
Albert Charles Baker and Maria Concetta MacDonald were both teaching English 12 in the 2017-18 school year when they shared what education officials call "secure exams" with their students.
The exams had already been given to previous classes, but weren't supposed to be used as study aids. That's because the Ministry of Education sometimes recycles questions from secure exams – a fact both Baker and MacDonald were aware of, according to a pair of disciplinary decisions that B.C.'s Commissioner for Teacher Regulation posted online this week.
Even if they hadn't been aware, the exams are marked with a clear warning on the front: "Distribution of this exam is permitted for exam administration purposes and must be returned to the Ministry of Education. Copying, storing or sharing this exam, in part or in whole, is a direct violation of exam security polity."
Both teachers shared material from the exams with their classes anyway.
And sure enough, when their students took their English 12 provincials in 2018, they found themselves answering some of the same questions they'd come across in their prep.
MacDonald, who teaches in a public high school in the Vernon School District, received her copy of a secure exam while meeting with a student to review the student's results.
Afterward, her principal told her to "get rid" of the exam, according to the disciplinary decision, but MacDonald decided to use it with her English class anyway.
When her class took the English 12 provincial exam on Jan. 25, MacDonald saw that some of the questions were the same, but didn't tell administrators.
After an investigation uncovered what she did, MacDonald was suspended without pay for one day. The Commissioner for Teacher Regulation has since ordered that her teaching certificate also be suspended for three days, beginning on Dec. 18, 2019.
Baker, who teaches at a public high school in Coquitlam, received his secure exams because he'd spent several years marking the English 12 provincials under a contract with the Ministry of Education.
The teacher "breached the terms of his contract of a marker by keeping the materials he received … and using and distributing them for the purpose of student exam preparation, when he knew he was not permitted to do," the disciplinary decision reads.
He also knew that students who cheat on their exams receive a mark of zero. The commissioner found Baker "jeopardized the students' final grades and academic integrity" through his actions.
His class took the provincial exam in June 2018, and he found out some of the questions were recycled from the secure exams the same day. He didn't tell administrators either.
Baker was suspended for 10 days and forced to give up his position as head of the English department at his school. The commissioner also ordered that his teaching certificate be suspended for five days, two of which were served retroactively. The other three will begin on Dec. 4.
Neither of the teachers' disciplinary decisions state whether their students were forced to retake the exams. There is no suggestion that the students were aware they might be prepping with questions they might see again on their provincials.