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Case Studies

Consider the scenarios below. Each fictional scenario is loosely based on actual cases that have been brought to the PSPC in recent years or ones that have appeared in local or national news. In each situation, explore the impact of the teacher's conduct on the students and on the parents of the students.

Case 1

Mark G. is a sixth grade teacher who works in a middle school. While grading an exam where many students had performed poorly, Mr. G. begins writing comments on the tests like "Only a LOSER would write this!" and "Were you sleeping when we talked about this?" When he returns the exams to his students, several students are visibly upset by his written remarks and go to the principal.

Case 2

Kathryn D. is a fourth grade teacher. During an exam, she announces to her class "Who cares about cheating? You go ahead and cheat if you want!" At first, most of the class thinks she is joking. As some students start sharing their tests with their classmates, however, it becomes clear that she is allowing them to cheat. At the end of the test, she has the class promise her that they won't tell their parents or the principal about her testing policy. Despite this request, several students complain to their parents who report the teacher's actions to the principal.

Case 3

Jamie R. is a high school mathematics teacher in an urban district. While proctoring the state science assessment, she notices that several students are struggling. As she walks around the room, she starts to help some of the students by pointing to the correct answer. By the end of the testing period, most of the students have received some assistance from Ms. R. While most of the students are thankful for the help, a few feel that her actions communicated that they couldn't do the work on their own and needed her help.

Case 4

Rich W. is a high school science teacher who gives pet names to the female students in his class. He calls them "darling" and "sweetheart" but always refers to the male students by their first name. Some of the female students are upset with Mr. W's pet names and arrange to meet with the principal to discuss their concerns.

Case 5

Elizabeth C. is a middle school foreign language teacher who works with several students with special needs who have IEPs. One student, Carl, has an IEP which requires that written notes are provided for him at the end of each class. Ms. C. announces to the class that she needs a volunteer to help Carl with notes each day because his IEP states that he cannot takes notes for himself. Although a few students volunteer, Carl is embarrassed by Ms. C's announcement.

While these cases are fictional, real cases that have been adjudicated by the Pennsylvania Standards and Practices Commission can be accessed by visiting the PSPC site.