Details of teacher certification scam uncovered - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Details of teacher certification scam uncovered

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Clarence Mumford is accused of orchestrating teacher certification scheme Clarence Mumford is accused of orchestrating teacher certification scheme
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Big changes are being made to the way teachers will earn take their certification tests after a scheme involving 50 teachers was uncovered.

Clarence Mumford is charged with organizing a scheme that provided teachers and aspiring teachers with certifications that they did not earn, for a price.

The Feds say for 15 years, Clarence Mumford sent in imposters to pass teacher certification tests in place of the actual teachers in need of the license. He charged between $1,500 and $3,000 each.

The test creators de-certified the teachers they discovered that time around, and say more teachers will lose their licenses as a result of this federal investigation.

"We're just as angry as parents might be to learn a teacher may have gone to such lengths to get into the classroom," said ETS Praxis Test Spokesman Tom Ewing.

Ewing confirms one of his workers spotted odd behavior that triggered a 45-count indictment against Clarence Mumford and the de-certification of more than 50 teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

"The people who serve as our test center supervisors, monitors, and room proctors are our first defense against such things," Ewing explained.

According to court documents, Mumford hired four co-conspirators to assume the identities of teachers and aspiring teachers who could not pass the PRAXIS teacher certification test.

A PRAXIS worker noticed one person taking the same test several times in one day.

But technology may be the reason it went undetected 15 years.

Investigators say Mumford manufactured fake drivers licenses with his test takers photos and the aspiring teachers' information.

Ewing says the vast majority of teachers who take the tests are honest, but changes are in store, including biometric voice scanning.

"We'll look at who registered and their scores, suspicious patterns of behavior, handwriting samples," said Ewing.

The Departments of Education in all three states had varying reaction.

Arkansas deferred to ETS on preventive measures, they cannot say if more teachers will have to retake the tests, and said only ETS can say how this went on so long.

Mississippi directed all questions to the U. S. Attorney's Office.

Tennessee will take decisive action against any participating teacher.

ETS says the scope of how many people falsely passed the test is still unclear.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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Indictment against Clarence Mumford (PDF) News release from U.S. Attorney's Office (PDF)

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