The Atlanta Verdict Is In: Massive NCLB Cheating Inflated Gains

An article in the Huffington Post by Joy Resmovits outlines the results of a real investigation into the cheating scandal in the Atlanta public school system. The issue is also the subject of several posts at RheeFirst! The conclusion of the report, which is also covered in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is that there was massive cheating to make the school administrators and teachers to look good and to allow teachers to earn bonuses because of falsified high student test scores.

Much like here in DC.

The report also concludes that the system also engaged in a massive cover-up to hide the extent of the corruption.

Just like here.

One bad consequence for some of the students: those whose answers were erased to make them appear to be high-scorers when they were really far below acceptable proficiency levels — they missed out on necessary remediation and summer school classes.

A few telling quotes from the article, which also contains a video file of the Georgia governor talking about the scandal:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday that widespread cheating inflated Atlanta Public Schools’ 2009 state standardized tests scores.

The product of a two-year investigation, the report concluded that systematic cheating occurred within Atlanta Public Schools — which had been lauded for its quick testing gains — including at least 44 of the 56 examined schools. The report implicated 38 principals, noting that 178 educators pled the Fifth Amendment when questioned. Eighty-two other educators confessed to various forms of cheating, including erasing wrong answers on students’ multiple choice exams and then replacing them with the correct ones.

“The 2009 CRCT [test] statistics are overwhelming and allow for no conclusion other than widespread cheating,” a summary of the report circulated by the governor’s office said.

The cheating can be traced back to as early as 2001, the report found. It detailed how warnings of cheating in late 2005 were ignored and how the school system destroyed documents and provided false statements to hide wrongdoing.

“In a statewide erasure analysis … the Atlantic Public School system test results demonstrated a pattern of wrong to right changes, evidencing that these changes did not occur in a valid testing environment,” Gov. Nathan Deal said at a Tuesday press conference.

Investigators spent more than two years looking into much-lauded gains on 2009’s state standardized tests after questions about “statistically improbable” test score increases were first raised by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

An initial report was deemed superficial, with one high-ranking official saying her testimony had been edited to soften the blow.

Then-Governor Sonny Perdue ordered a new report, this time with the help of Georgia’s equivalent of the FBI.

When Deal took office, he allowed the investigation to continue — and received its results last week. In his Tuesday press conference, Deal told reporters that “there will be consequences” for those implicated by the report.

The report itself was not released to the media, though officials gave the Atlanta Journal Constitutionan early look at the document.

According to the AJC, the investigators concluded that APS chief Beverly Hall — who retired recently after serving the full length of her term despite the investigation — “knew or should have known” about the cheating. Hall led Atlanta’s troubled schools for 12 years, leading to her being named “Superintendent of the Year” in 2009.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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