A Sheepshead Bay High School teacher is speaking out about feeling pressured to “teach to the test,” saying that administrators from the soon-to-be Academy of Career Exploration of Sheepshead Bay threatened she raise the test scores of two failing students so they could graduate.
Erica Bloom, a 36-year-old geometry teacher who is, according to comments made about her on the Rate My Teachers website, mostly well-liked by her students, told the New York Post that she would receive a “3020” — a disciplinary warning in Department of Education (DOE)-speak — if she didn’t inflate the students’ geometry Regents exam scores from a failing 55 to a passing 65. The warning, she explained would “mean the removal of my license. So I lose my job, my insurance, my pension — everything, after 14 years.”
Bloom says new school Principal John O’Mahoney had insisted that all students take the Regents — and that their scores should count for 10 percent of their final grades.
One of the students notched a 53 on the test. The other failed to show up.
“A guidance counselor [for one student] came in and asked me to change his grade,” she said.
He was followed by the assistant principal “who came in and kept asking, ‘Why are you failing him?’ ”
Another asked about the second student.
“I was pressured by everybody,” she said.
She then went to O’Mahoney’s office but he refused to intervene. “He didn’t say a thing,” she said.
Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the DOE, said O’Mahoney did nothing wrong. “The principal acted properly,” she told the Post. “This was not an issue of changing grades.”
The two students graduated this past Friday.