Big-Time Cheating: Confessions in Atlanta

A number of people have predicted that if scores on multiple-choice tests have important consequences, then the pressure to cheat on them becomes intense. Apparently, that is exactly what has happened in Atlanta, GA. I reprint the  first few paragraphs of a recent article.  There have been very strong suspicions of the same sort of thing here in Washington, DC.

Atlanta Public Schools cheating:

Some teachers [and others] admit guilt

By Bill Rankin, Heather Vogell and Alan Judd

Numerous Atlanta Public Schools employees have confessed to changing students’ test papers, providing answers to students or watching others manipulate tests, according to an official briefed on the state’s investigation into cheating on standardized tests.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some teachers are telling investigators, “I’m guilty. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I know happened.”

The revelation comes as criminal charges against APS employees appear increasingly likely as a result of the state’s investigation. GBI director Vernon Keenan and two special investigators on Monday met with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

GBI officials have said teachers are not targets for criminal charges as long as they are truthful with agents and investigators. But administrators may be.

Potential felony charges that educators could face include lying to agents or investigators, which could bring up to five years in prison, and the destruction or altering of public documents, which could result in up to 10 years in prison.

Stories in the AJC in 2008 and 2009 revealed some Atlanta public schools were posting statistically unbelievable scores on state CRCT. In February, state officials announced they had found suspicious erasures on answer sheets for last year’s tests in hundreds of classrooms at Atlanta elementary and middle schools.

The state ordered the district to investigate 58 of its schools, more than any other district statewide flagged by the erasure analysis. But the district’s probe — conducted by a “blue ribbon commission” composed of civic and business leaders — was rejected by Gov. Sonny Perdue in August as inadequate.

In appointing his special investigators, Perdue gave Bowers and Wilson and private investigator Richard Hyde subpoena power to reinvestigate the possibility of widespread cheating in Atlanta classes.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Consider the perversion of it: first, educators are put in a position of having their school’s and their own future riding on these fraudulent tests, which is an institutional inducement to cheat (see Campbell’s Law), then they are threatened with felony charges if they don’t collaborate with the inevitable the witch hunt.

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