My Predictions for the 2014 DC-CAS Scores

Sometime this month, the Mayor of DC and the Chancellor of the DC Public Schools will make some sort of announcement on how DC public and charter school students did on the DC-CAS (Comprehensive Assessment System) – the test required by Federal law to be given to every single kid in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 10.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I haven’t developed any sources willing to risk their jobs by leaking the results to me in advance, but I can make a few predictions:

1. If the results look bad, they will be released right before a holiday or a weekend (a basic public-relations tactic that all public officials learn).

2. If the scores as a whole look good, or if there is some part of the trends that look good, that will be highlighted heavily.

3. There won’t be much of a correlation between the trends on the DC-CAS scores and the National Assessment of Ednucational Progress, which has been measuring student achievement in grades 4 and 8 in reading and math since the 1970s by giving a carefully-selected sample of students in DC and across the nation a variety of different test items in math, reading, and a number of other areas.

4. Even though the DC-CAS results won’t be released to the public for a couple more weeks, clearly DCPS officials and Mathematica staff already have them; they have been firing teachers and principals and “adjusting” – with the benefit of hindsight – the rest of their evaluations to fit the DC-CAS scores and the magic secret formula called “Value Added Magic Measurement”.

You may ask, how can GFBrandenburg predict not much of a match between the DC-CAS and the NAEP?

By looking at the track record, which I will share with you.

I present the average scores of all DC students on both the DC-CAS and on the NAEP over the past quarter-century. The NAEP scores for the District of Columbia have either been pretty steady or have been rising slightly.

As far as I can tell, the statisticians at the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) who design, administer, and score the NAEP do a fine job of

A. making sure that there is no cheating by either students or adults,

B.  making up good questions that measure important topics, and

C. gathering, collating, and reporting the data in an honest manner.

On the DC -CAS, however, we have had many documented cases of cheating (see point A), I have shown that many of the questions are ridiculous and don’t measure what we teachers were supposed to be teaching (see point B), and I hope to show you that whatever they are doing with the scores does not seem to be trustworthy.

Exhibit number one is a graph where I plot the average scale scores of the students in Washington DC on both the NAEP and on the DC-CAS for fourth grade math:

naep + dccas 4th grade math comparison

Allow me to explain.

The bottom blue curve is what DC’s fourth-graders average scale scores were on the NAEP starting in 1992 and going on through 2013. As you can see, since 1996, there has been what appears like more-or-less steady improvement.

(It is very hard, in fact, to see much of a difference in trends before mayoral control over the DC schools and after that time. I drew a vertical black line to separate the ‘Pre-Rhee” era from the “Post-Rhee” era, since Michelle Rhee was the very first Chancellor installed in the DC schools, after the annual tests were given in 2007.)

(As noted,  the NAEP scale scores go from 0 to 500, but the DC-CAS scores go from 0 to 100. I decided that the easiest way to have them both fit on the same graph would simply be to divide the NAEP scores by 5. The actual reported NAEP scores are in the little table, if you want to examine them for yourself. You can double-check my numbers by looking around at the NAEP and DC OSSE websites — which are unfortunately not easy to navigate, so good luck, and be persistent! You will also find that some years have two different scores reported, which is why I put those double asterisks at a couple of places on those curves.)

But here’s what’s really suspicious: the DC-CAS scores, shown in red, seem to jump around wildly and appear to show tremendous progress overall but also utterly un-heralded drops.

Which is it?

Slow, steady progress since 1996, or an amazing jump as soon as Wonder Woman Rhee comes on the scene?

In my opinion, I’d much rather trust the feds on this. We know that there has been all sorts of hanky-panky with the DC-CAS, as repeatedly documented in many places. I know for a fact that we math teachers have been changing the ways that we teach, to be more in line with the 1989 NCTM standards and the ways that math is tested on the NAEP. It’s also the case that there has been significant gentrification in DC, with the proportion of white kids with highly educated parents rising fairly steadily.

Slow improvement in math scores, going back a quarter of a century, makes sense.

Wild jumps don’t seem reasonable to me at all.

On the contrary, besides the known mass cheating episodes, it almost seems like DC education officials get together with McGraw-Hill CTB, which manufactures the DC-CAS, and decide how they want to get the scores to come out. THEN they decide which questions to count and which ones NOT to count, and what the cut-off scores will be for ‘advanced’, ‘proficient’ and so on.

Next time: 8th grade math; and 4th and 8th grade reading.


Links to my other articles on this:

Part One  (fourth grade math)— this one right here

Part Two (8th grade math)

Part Three (all reading)

Test Scores

You may have noticed that while we were told that DC’s local NCLB/RTTT test scores went up a little bit this year, we were also told that NYState’s and city local NCLB/RTTT test scores went down tremendously.


What gives?

Both systems and city schools have been under the sway of charter-school privatizers and DEformistas for many years now. There has been an unbelievable, unprecedented turnover in the national cohort of school teachers. The DEformistas and privatizers have been dictating policy. The Deformistas (and their billionaire backers) ARE the educational establishment, and they have themselves hired the vast majority of teachers here in DC and NY.

So how come scores are supposedly way down in one place and a tiny up in the other?

The ‘old school’ type of allegedly “union-stifled” education is out: Big Data and Big Billionaires Rule, and have been doing so for some years now, with mostly brand-new teachers, but with kids who are not so different from their slightly older siblings and cousins and community members….

Plus they instituted Common Core, which is supposed to bring about more creative thinking in our teachers and students.
However, my friends who are still teaching tell me that their principals and other administrators require that each teacher follow a very strict, regimented script that allows for no creativity at all. Every single thought, every single teacher question, and every other detail that teachers are supposed to do, is spelled out. And, of course, the kids had better be able to follow the same script by answering the idiotic, long-winded test items correctly, if the teachers want to keep their jobs.

(But as far as I or others can actually see, the test questions given to the kids don’t really make a lot of sense; and the checklists and rubrics for judging teachers follow one particular philosophy and have never been shown to make any actual difference in the classroom; nobody has ever done any field tests to make sure the curriculum, the methodology of the pedagogy, or the test items have any reliability or validity in the field. All this allegedly ‘data driven’ verbiage has virtually no connection to how actual people learn and teach.

The new type of educrat and consultant has the pretty cross-linked chats, and the extremely high salaries, even though some of them still have trouble with percents. Nonetheless, a few of them have figured out some complicated ways of putting numbers on stuff and grinding that through formulas that obfuscate rather than clarify, resulting in a number they can use to fire or blame or give rewards. However, if the number doesn’t come out the way they like it, then they cheat and change it or hide it or make stuff up (one of Michelle Rhee’s specialties).

If it does come out favorably, then it gets trumpeted in all the media.

Another point of similarity between NY and DC: in both cases they have a new test this year. Which means it is at best very hard to compare scores of one test to the next. However, we members of the public are dependent on what they let us see. We can’t see the questions, are not told the actual number of correct answers,nor what the cutoff scores are, and so on.*

So much for actual “data”.  Just as with the federal government, under both Republicrat or Democan state or local or national leadership, more and more real important stuff is hidden while we are bombarded with trivial junk of all sorts. (Why do I have to be visually bombarded by mewspapers and magazines with pictures of the British monarchy or various movie star scandals every time I go walk down the street or get food at a store or visit a doctor or dentist, while at the same time the data resource people at DC’s OSSE doesn’t return phone calls? Or if I watch most TV channelse?

To me the most interesting thing is this:

1. The DEformistas like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Mayor Bloomberg and Wendy Kopp (of KIPP fame) and the Koch brothers and the Walton family have been claiming for quite some time that if they were able to gut the teacher union’s mighty powers and implement their policies (including mostly at first firing teachers and lots of tests but now including micro scripted and deadening curricula) then there was no boundary of excellence we would reach. We oiuld have 90% of the students reach the 90 th percentile at schools that were 90% poor and 90% minority (just the way Michelle Rhee pretended had happened in her classroom). They have set up those charter and voucher programs. They have showered money on the people in charge because of their excellence.

2. None of the rosy scenarios have actually come true.


I still haven’t answered ‘what’s up’ with the NYC and DC scores. Here is an interesting fact. KIPP is supposed to be pretty-much a teacher-proof school of excellence. They are rigid, they have doctrines and rules of excellence and data and standards that all teachers must follow. In NYC their scores collapsed this year, worse than in the regular public schools , according to Gary Rubenstein, but in DC they rose to I think their highest level.

Is the DC kipp so different from the NYC kipp Kopp operation?

Or is it more likely that the big difference is the tests and scoring systems — which are kept from us?

My conclusion: for qwhatever reason, the test makers and graders the stupid NYC test harder and the DC test a little easier this year. While following almost identical policies in both cities.

NYC scores go down a lot. DC scores go up a bit.

And then they blame the teachers.

In any case, these data are:
# unreliable

# inconsistent

# invalid.

# do show that the promises of the DEformistas have utterly failed.


* Keep in mind that anyone leaking test items to the public would be risking his/her job and fines and jail time. Not risking being placed in solitary or tortured or hunted into exile or called traitors like Manning or Snowden * but the penalties for test leaking are serious and are enforced. Unlike the penalties for illegally firing people, which are weak and essentially never enforced.  I think that Manning and Snowden are imperfect but brave heroes.

Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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OPTING OUT: One Way to Combat the Corporate Take-Over of Public Schools

Many parents of school children understand that the weeks and weeks of standardized testing being foisted on the public schools by both Republican and Democratic federal and state administrations are an utter waste of time and money. These tests provide no useful information, but they do so at an enormous cost. The tests have zero import to the students’ career and are being used merely as an excuse to rip the guts out of public education via a number of clever schemes cooked up in various think-tanks funded by billionaires – not by skilled, trained, accomplished veteran educators.
(It’s also the case that most kids finish the tests in a small fraction of the time allotted, and must sit there silently, not reading, not even drawing or writing or singing or sleeping, for the rest of the time, bored out of their skulls. And the questions themselves? Please — they are written by unskilled temps for minimum wage, and it shows. The questions do not come close to ‘measuring’ anything useful to anyone.)
(What’s more: We all know that the children of the hedge-fund managers, billionaires, and politicians who foisted this testing regime on us, both Republicrat or Democan, pay serious tuition every year so that their own children actually get a REAL education that involves sports, arts & crafts, drama, projects, foreign languages, real math & science & social studies & creative writing and much more — but NO week-long standardized testing sessions repeated multiple times per year. No, that sort of useless testing regime is solely reserved for kids who can only afford public schools, regular OR charter. And if the students are mostly black or brown, they might ONLY get “English” and “Math” that is nothing more than test prep, for huge fractions of the school year – whether they are in a charter school or a regular public school. And the results track the parental income and education levels with an amazing degree of accuracy — the correlation is close to 100%. Anybody with any life or educational experience could have predicted that: the more educated and wealthy the parents, the better the children do in school, in any country on earth, and vice versa. Duh.)
A number of parents in various places (but not enough IMO), even in Texas, are beginning to rebel. Entire school boards, and even superintendents of county school districts or principals, or entire faculties of some schools, are saying enough is enough. Bob Schaeffer has a lot of information on this. I think this is something that Tea Partiers and old lefties like myself can agree on.
I would like to encourage parents in Chevy Chase and in Brookland to OPT OUT.*
In principle, opting out here in DC and neighboring counties is simple:
1. Look at the school calendar.
2. On those mornings where your children will be otherwise wasting their time doing the DC-CAS or DC-BAS or whatever acronym they are using this year, you simply don’t send your kid to school until the testing is over.
3. When they come to school, mid-day, they come with a note from home explaining why.
4. Or, if you prefer, you can send the note beforehand, explaining why you are opting out, and get into good discussions with your children’s teachers and administrators, and your child can discuss it (or not) with his/her classmates.
However, one big problem obviously remains:
What do the kids do instead of going to school on those days?
Sitting home playing video games is not such a wonderful idea. Kids do too much of that already, and their social and physical skills are not getting the stimuli they need.
It occurs to me that more parents would opt out of testing if they had some interesting and organized thing that their children could do during those mornings.
Opting-Out activities would NOT have last all day long, but they WOULD need to be organized.
If parents (and others) could get it together, their children, the opting-out students, could:
1. Play outdoor, organized games (volleyball, soccer, softball, basketball, what-have-you) or
2. Go on field trips or hikes or bike trips of all kinds:
a. the Zoo
b. here in DC we have loads of free museums on science, history, art, and much more
c. go watch courtroom trials or debates on the Senate or House floors
d. nature walks
e. bike to Great Falls or Little Falls or Hains Point or whatever
f. visit parks and historic sites…
3. Plant or tend vegetable or flower gardens
4. Make stuff (an accurate scale model of our solar system, using a kickball or volleyball for the sun, will prompt a nearly mile-long walk, each way…)
5. Make art, music
6. Improvise or read skits/plays
7. Do hands-on math and science
8. Make music
9. Go canoeing…
Exactly the stuff that kids are very seldom allowed to do in public schools any more.
[I’m not exaggerating: at some charter schools I have visited, the children are essentially locked into a single room from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, only leaving to go to the bathroom or to pick up packaged lunches out in the hallway. What are they training the kids for? Life in the Big House?]
If any group of parents feels like doing this, I am hereby volunteering to help out, gratis. As a retired, 30-year veteran, award-winning DCPS math teacher** with a grandchild on the way this summer, my pension is adequate (not a golden parachute, but we eat ok and pay the mortgage) so I’m not doing this to earn extra cash. I help run a similar, science-oriented, program on Saturdays called “First Light”, housed at the Carnegie Institution for Science at 15th and P Sts NW, so I know more than a little about such interesting, active, hands-on opportunities.
If we succeed in organizing this, parental help would be needed so that the student : adult ratio would at most five to one. We would need to coordinate transportation back to the various schools after the end of testing for that day. Other things to decide on: what to do about lunches, snacks, and breakfasts, release forms, legal clearances, and so on.
*I pick those two locations because I went to JHS, and later taught math, and still run a telescope making class, in Chevy Chase, and I’ve lived for 30 years in Brookland, where my wife and I raised our kids — who went all the way through DCPS and are productive and innovative, college-educated citizens, thank you very much (not hedge fund managers or other sorts of parasites).
**Photos of a pile of those awards (for me and my students) available on request. One of my teams even got mentioned in the Congressional Record by our non-voting DC delegate!
Published in: on March 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Two good cartoons on education

I will post these without comment.

no comment



Any teachers, students, or parents care to comment?

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Principal Rightly Slams Coporate Junk that Masquerades as Standardized Testing

Principal Rightly Slams Coporate Junk that Masquerades as Standardized Testing

The Valerie Strauss of the “Answer Sheet” has hauled in another good op-ed article this week. She found a principal who had the intelligence and integrity and good writing skills to eviscerate most of the reasons given for the current DEformista educational leadership these days. I hope to read more from this person, whose name is Sharon Emick Fougner, principal of Elizabeth Mellick Baker School in Great Neck, N.Y.

A quote from Ms. Fougner that particularly caught my eye:

What is even more detrimental is that neither these children — nor their parents or teachers — will ever have access to their test booklets in order to understand how or why the child arrived at an incorrect answer. No benefit is extended to the child from all of these hours of testing if there is no thoughtful, comprehensive feedback. Likewise, I am unable to provide you and your department with clarification and examples regarding my initial list of concerns, as I am not permitted to speak about the content of the exams, or retain a test booklet for commentary. I find it disingenuous that you want teachers and principals to receive feedback, but want none yourself. It would seem that those of us who have spent our lives doing this work would have much insight to offer you.”

Among other things, the crisp writing here explains in detail why this principal’s criticisms of the overall poor quality of the test itself, seemed so … vague. The reason is that IF SHE HAD TRIED TO BE MORE SPECIFIC IN ANY WAY by keeping a copy of the booklet to review, or merely making a copy of or notes about any test item, or even to discussing any of the items orally or in writing, as in this op-ed,  she could end her career. 

Late in my teaching career, I did something I figured was generally frowned on, but I thought was a good and principled thing to do.

What was my crime?

I carefully read the math questions and classified them according to the mandated city curriculum of the day by making pencil checkmarks on a copy of said curriculum.

Oh! The horrors! Arrest that man! Take away his pension! Publicly embarrass him!

One day my adorable class of 7 or 8th grade black, white, asian, and latino public school with mostly fairly well-involved parents were taking one of these standardized NCLB-mandated annual tests. This is a process that drags on for days of almost non-stop inactivity. My students — even the very slowest among them — generally finished each section in about one-quarter to one-half the time allotted for each section. During the remainder of the time (which could be 5 to 35 minutes depending on the section, they had to sit there, bored, doing — NOTHING.

No, you may not go on to the next section.

No, you may not talk, even to yourself.

No one may turn around or stretch or make faces.

They may not write.

They may not draw.

They they may not read.

They certainly can’t call up their friends on their personal electronics (a double-edged sword that I only caught the beginnings of, thank my lucky asteroid!)

They may not even put their heads down and go to sleep.

Teachers are instructed to go around to students, reminding them to re-read every single question in the current section of the days-long test, to re-check their thinking and their work, and change answers or not as they see fit, but in any case, to re-check their work.

And if your homeroom is good and compliant you have to go around quietly in the last portion of the time allotted quietly whispering in your students’ ears:

“No you cannot go to the bathroom unless it’s an emergency, and if it really is, you’ll have to walk with the other proctor to the bathroom.”

“No, sorry, you cannot take out a book and read it. Just sit there quietly and space out for a few minutes by zoning into space, and then look at your test questions again. Thank you. Yes, I know, they certainly do give us too much time, and yes, honey, this sure is boring to have to do for four to eight weeks every single school year. Teachers mostly don’t like it, either, sweetie, we know just about everybody has finished long ago, even the kids who get extra time on normal classroom activities. Nothing I can do. ”

Today, if I were still teaching, I might also quietly suggest, “Honey, if you don’t like this, and you know a lot of your teachers think this is a scary waste of time, and I myself agree, your parents go to PTA meetings, right? Have you discussed this with your parents? Are they on any official or unofficial PTA policy boards?”

so many folks love to have multiple-choice tests: checking them takes no time a-tall. It’s the making up of the questions that’s hard, and involves a lot of trial and error; and during that process of field-testing a multiple-choice item, it needs to be kept secret, since it’s so difficult to come up with good ones. Or else the testing companies do what all big companies do: hire cheap labor and try to automate the process. So they hire a bunch of people who are literate but desperate for work, and they pay them so many pennies or dollars per test item, most likely. Obviously, the more test items these folks who are now  “associates” or “independent contractors” or “consultants” (but we don’t use legal terms like  ’employees’ for solid $$ reasons, and it’s no longer polite to call them ‘low-paid unorganized hacks for hire’). the more money these poor souls earn, but it’s not much. The really big bucks go to shareholders and directors of groups like Kaplan, CTB-McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and so on, who have swallowed up nearly the entire educational publishing industry in this country. (Something like what happened to bookstores.)

In any case, that’s what was behind the Sleeveless Pineapple story of a few days ago. The article Valerie Strauss has here shows some other reasons why the current approach is all wrong.

To sum up the problem:

(1) First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect question, be it multiple-choice or essay. I’ve seen and written some good ones, and I’ve seen and written some bad ones. None of them ever do more than give you a peek at what the child knows and understands.

(2) There are quite a few teachers who for years have been coming up with way better questions for assessing student understanding than what is in most standardized publisher-driven stuff. But the current edu-DEform racket ignores anything coming from a teacher who is in the classroom.

(3) All of the actual questions on these standardized tests are kept secret, so that students and teachers and parents never get the opportunity to see what exactly Johnny or Susie messed up on, or whether the questions the students missed were merely poorly written.

(4)  Panels that I or my former colleagues sat on, often rejected or voted to strongly reword most of the proposed commercially-created NCLB questions we were asked to review and critique. But even though we threw out most of what they wrote, they managed to come up with even more crappy questions that get used year after year. Guess they found another panel that wasn’t as picky as us? Or they stopped having teachers review them? These secret NCLB  tests are still crappy. These writers must never have taught this course in the first place, or they are simply lazy, or idiots. I can only guess which option it is — and none of them are very good now, are they?

(5) Released questions from DC’s Comprehensive Assessment Program do not inspire any confidence either; see my previous columns in this blog. Do a search for “released questions” or “DC-CAS”.

(6) The coverage of the curriculum is extremely spotty. By my own count, and according to what the local testing honchos state, there are in math often dozens of questions on a single topic in the curriculum (out of a list of nearly a hundred topics to be ‘covered’ during the year. As a partial consequence, many, many topics listed in the yearly curriculum are not addressed with even a single question.

(7) As the writer of this op-ed states, many questions are ambiguous at best. Based on the released DC-CAS items, I conclude that this defect happens here in DC as well. Assuming that this suburban Long Island principal writes is true, this sort of stupidity is now even getting worse than it was when I was teaching. This really does sound like child abuse.

(8) Forcing kids to be motionless for hour after hour, day after day, is not really what we want our kids to be doing with their time. Is it? They don’t make kids in progressive and expensive private schools do this sort of thing. Why should the public school kids have to do it, then?

(9) The local DC not-quite-NCLB pre-tests, which are manufactured by a competing or allied company and which are supposed to be used by teachers to create even more data and more instruction, are of even worse quality here in DC than the actual NCLB end of year tests. They create entirely erroneous data.

(10) Garbage In, Garbage Out. Much of the incoming data is useless, yet it’s supposed to be used to ‘guide instruction.’ It’s analogous to saying “If those pigs over there are flying under their own power, then I have $20 billion in gold ingots in my closet.’

Back to my little story.

One day, one of my homeroom students was out sick on several days of April testing week. (My homeroom class at this school this year generally had excellent attendance.) While my students were quietly working away on the test and being model citizens, I decided to take the question booklet (no, not the answer sheet! Why would I do that? I was genuinely interested in how well the test matched what I had been teaching. That’s all. I was not about to answer his/her questions for him/her!)

I took a well-worn copy of our district-wide mandated curriculum, which I had just spent a summer analyzing, and I read every single math item on the NCLB test, one by one. After reading each question, I then put a check mark next to the curriculum topic or standard or whatever they are calling it these days that best matched the question — in my opinion. And I think my opinion was pretty good since, as I said, I’d been analyzing it all one summer.

I wrote nothing else.

In case you are wondering, I only did this inspection  this at times when my students were engrossed in actual test taking, generally from about 10% of the way in to the time of the session, up to about 55% of the time allotted. I would then put it back into the carefully-alphabetized and sorted testing material during the last 45% of of each section. (For me, it doesn’t take long. Repeat: I didn’t write down answers; I just noted what skills or standards were being tested for each question.

That year, testing was quite easy, because my students were wonderful. Much of the time, it was quite easy for one proctor to watch the class while the other one might go to the rest room or run off a few photocopies and come back.

What I found shocked me.

I kept the list with the little tickmarks with me when I retired (I hope), and later turned that data into a spreadsheet, which I published a couple of years ago now on this blog, IIRC. The curriculum standard that deals with computation was hit over and over and over again with question after question. Now, many folks think that that’s all math is: computation. That’s actually not true It’s an important part, but there is much more as well.

I found that more than half the curriculum wasn’t addressed by any question whatsoeve. Many topics in statistics, data analysis, probability, measurement, geometry, and graphing, that were listed for teachers to teach, weren’t tested.

It’s good to see someone writing so eloquently and clearly about this. I wish more teachers and administrators in DC would speak up — but I’m not surprised that they are all in fear of losing their jobs. As hundreds of them are about to do, starting today.

Thanks, Ms. Fougner, and my apologies for running on.

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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