Low Country Middle School Under Investigation

There's a lot of controversy over the standardized tests your kids take in school these days. But now, there's a new problem for one Low Country school. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating employees at Whale Branch Middle School for possibly tampering with achievement tests. The allegations will affect the teachers and the students.

For the past two years, Whale Branch Middle School has been ranked unsatisfactory, based mostly on its low Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test scores. Now district officials say some employees were inappropriately looking at the test to see if it matched what they had been teaching. This type of investigation concerns many parents.

"I just hope everything comes to light regarding the investigation," said concerned parent Pam Europe. "I hope the truth comes out."

School district officials say they immediately began an internal investigation after they received information from a teacher's comment card. Students in third through eighth grade began taking the tests May 5, and finished up last Wednesday, but officials say the preparation should have begun months ago.

"Preparation starts the day school starts, because teachers are teaching the standards as soon a students get there," said Edna Crews, the district's deputy superintendent. "So that's really the core of the PACT tests, because the testing themselves is based on the standards."

If the employees are found guilty, they could face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Their teaching certificates could also be suspended or revoked.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com