Common Core testing disaster linked to principal’s suicide

The implementation of Common Core State Standards has caused much anxiety in education, but could the controversial standards be responsible for the suicide of a Harlem public school principal?

Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, principal of Teachers College Community School in New York, hurled herself in front of a subway train on April 17, after her third-grade students completed an initial round of testing — her death was ruled a suicide.

The New York Post reported:

The leap came at 9:20 a.m., less than 24 hours after her 47 third-graders wrapped up three days sweating over the high-stakes English exam — the first ever given at the fledgling school.

It was also the same day a whistleblower reported the cheating to DOE officials.


It was later alleged that Worrell-Breeden had tampered with the tests, which had been “red-flagged” and “invalidated,” the Post reported.

“Principal Worrell-Breeden was the subject of allegations of testing improprieties,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye. “An investigation substantiated these allegations, and we closed the investigation following her tragic passing.”

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One parent told the Post that Worrell-Breeden seemed “relaxed” about the testing, reassuring parents that the students would “breeze through this test.”

But was she just putting on a brave face to mask the anxiety associated with the tough Common Core exams?

The Post reported that in 2014, “only 34.5 percent of city students passed the math tests, and 29.4 percent passed English tests.”

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“A lot of people are getting sick and leaving the system because of the pressure the high-stakes tests are putting on them,” a veteran educator told the newspaper.

A family friend said Worrell-Breeden was also “under a lot of pressure at home,” dealing with marital problems and the death of her grandmother last year.

“She was the first principal at that school so she was trying to make . . . a good impression,” the friend said. “Maybe all that pressure, added to what was going on at home, got to her.”

Tom Tillison


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