FRANKFORT – The two remaining cases investigated by the Education Professional Standards Board in connection to alleged cheating on ACT exams at Perry Central High School in 2009 and 2010 concluded last month as two more teachers were disciplined.
It was in 2010 when the ACT company, which administers college entrance and readiness exams in high schools across the nation, threw out the results of several tests at Perry Central, forcing several students to re-take the exam. The company said at the time that an investigation of the test results indicated that several answer sheets had been altered by someone other than the students.
ACT’s investigation was forwarded to the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), which handles educator certification in Kentucky. The EPSB opened five investigations, three of which were concluded earlier this year. It was in January when the certificates of two other Perry County Schools employees were temporarily suspended. The third case was filed against former Principal Estill Neace, though the board dismissed that case and no action was taken against his certification during the board’s March meeting.
The board took final action on the remaining cases during its May meeting in Frankfort.
Kimbery Dawn Dixon was listed as the respondent in one of those cases, according to documents obtained by the Herald through an open records request. Dixon is a certified teacher, and as the building assessment coordinator was responsible for security of the testing booklets during the administration of the exams.
According to an agreed order in the case, Dixon maintains her innocence, but “acknowledges that the evidence regarding the reported charges is such that, if presented at a hearing of this matter, could result in a finding” that she is in violation of state law and the code of ethics for the state’s certified education personnel.
“Although there is no dispute that she followed the ACT and PLAN test security protocols,” the order states, “evidence revealed that the student answer sheets where manipulated in a systematic manner by some person other than the test takers.”
As a part of the agreed order, which Dixon signed, she is no longer allowed to participate in any state mandated testing. Additionally, she must submit a letter from her school principal to the board by May 31 of each year confirming that she did not participate in any state mandated testing during the previous 12 months.
The second case brought before the board last month resulted in a temporary certificate suspension against another teacher, Denisa Combs, who acted as the back-up building assessment coordinator. According to the order, the testing booklets were stored in her classroom, and she was also tasked with ensuring the security of the exams.
Like Dixon, Combs maintained her innocence, but admitted that “her conduct may be found to constitute a violation” if the case was brought to a full hearing before the board.
The board moved to suspend Combs’s teaching certificates for a period of 20 days from the date of acceptance of the order, which was signed on May 22. Several probationary conditions were also attached, including 12 hours of professional development or training. She will also no longer be allowed to participate in any state-mandated testing.