Teachers, school administrators and principals were directly involved with various efforts – including outright cheating and changing student answers – to increase the Atlanta school systems student performance scores. Some even held “erasure parties” on weekends to change answers.
This is totally unbelievable even for someone who thinks the government should be completely out of the education business. From WSBTV in Atlanta, with my emphasis in bold.
The report stated that children were denied special-educational assistance because their falsely reported CRCT scores were too high, and during testing, teachers pointed to the correct answer while standing at students’ desks.
According to the report, Parks Middle School had the most educators accused of cheating under the direction of then-principal Christopher Waller.
Investigators who led the probe were appointed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue. They found cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.
Deal said investigators also found that 178 teachers and principals cheated, and 82 of those confessed to misconduct.
The superintendent of the Atlanta school system, Dr. Beverly Hall, left her position at the end of June, but during the last decade she was heralded as a savior of the public school system and received – get this – an average yearly bonus of $58,000 a year. In 10 years she raked in almost $600,000 in bonuses based supposedly on higher graduation rates and better student performance.
It looks like it was a huge government-funded and endorsed scam as an indirect result of the federal government’s No Child Left Behind education legislation introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and then-President George W. Bush. Atlanta’s first test results were abysmal and instead of fixing the issue and improving performance and scores, a good portion of the public education system’s leadership and line staff elected to cheat the system and screw the kids.
It is clearly not “about the children” for these despicable self-described educators.
Parents of the children who have been totally left behind are rightfully ticked-off. Many families even made important decisions based on test scores released yearly by the public school system. Families moved. Families purchased homes. All partly based on the falsified data released by the Atlanta school system concerning student performance and test scores.
Marsha Sims said when it was time to find a neighborhood with a good school for her triplets, she jumped through all the hoops, including poring over the test scores, before settling on Morris Brandon in northwest Atlanta.
Many families buy homes near Morris Brandon just so they can send their children to the school.
“I was comparing them. And to find out now that those test scores were possibly not correct, then how can you choose what school your child attends if they’re not correct?” Sims said.
When Sims saw the news that the long-awaited investigation of alleged cheating in Atlanta Public Schools was out, Sims said it was sickening.
“I was extremely upset. I mean extremely,” she said.
Valerie Irvin, whose son attends Best Academy, told Dore, “A lot of people need to be arrested.” “Not fines. I think people need to go to jail. I think people need some pain for what they’ve done to these poor kids and parents who think they’ve done well on their test scores,” said Irvin.
Sims also had harsh words for those involved.
“If they knew about it, or if they covered it up, they need to be held accountable,” Sims said. “They clearly did not do their job and they abused their power.”
The news story includes the full three part report (links to sections are here) including hundreds of pages. It seems like the next steps should be indictments, criminal trials and jail time for those involved. The reports overview notes …
Thousands of school children were harmed by widespread cheating in the Atlanta Public School System (APS). In 30 schools, educations confessed to cheating, We found cheating on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) in 44 of the 56 schools (78.6%) we examined, and uncovered organized and systemic misconduct within the district as far back as 2001. Superintendent Beverly Hall and her senior staff knew, or should have known, that cheating and other offenses were occurring. Many of the accolades, and much of the praise, received by APS over the last decade were ill-gotten.
A culture of fear and conspiracy of silence infected this school system, and kept many teachers from speaking freely about misconduct. From the onset of this investigation, we were confronted by a pattern of interference by top APS leadership in our attempt to gather evidence. …
The APS General Councel told us that one of her main duties was to provide [Hall] with “deniability.” Her aim was to insulate Dr. Hall from teh burden of responsibility for making difficult decisions. This veil of deniability at the school level was aptly illustrated by long-time Gideons Elementary principal Armstead Salters, who told his teachers: “If anyone asks you anything about this, just tell them you don’t know … just stick to the story and it will go away.”
Here is just some of the information outlined in the report concerning cheating and other issues.
- Teachers and administrators erased students’ incorrect answers after the test was given and filled in the correct answers;
- The changing of answers by teachers and administrators was, in some cases, so sophisticated that plastic transparency answer sheets were created to make changing the test answer sheets easier;
- Changing of answers was often done at weekend gatherings, and in at least one instance at a teacher’s home in Douglas County, Georgia;
- A principal forced a teacher with low CRCT scores to crawl under a table at a faculty meeting;
- Teachers arranged classroom seating for tests so that lower performing children could cheat off the higher scoring students;
- Children were denied special educational assistance because their falsely-reported CRCT scores were too high;
- Students requested that they be assigned to a certain teacher because that educator was said to cheat;
- First and second grade teachers used voice inflection while reading the test to identify the answer;
- Teachers pointed to the correct answer while standing at the student’s desk;
- Teachers gave the answers aloud to students;
- Some teachers allowed students to change the previous day’s incorrect responses after fixing them correct answers;
- Teachers looked ahead to discuss the next day’s questions;
- In one classroom a student sat under his desk and refused to take the test. The child passed.
Information about the testing…
The CRCT is a multiple choice examination given annually to all public school students in Georgia. There are five subject areas that are tested: reading; English/language arts; math; social studies and science. Students are scored as “meets standards,” “exceeds standards” or “does not meet standards.” The CRCT is considered and important test because its results help determine whether a school makes “Annually Yearly Progress” (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.