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Atlanta Teachers Cheated For Better Scores

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level

By Heather Vogell

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes. Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Throughout her career, Superintendent Beverly Hall has been showered with endless accolades – and checks – for her miraculous performance at the helm of Atlanta’s schools. In 2009, for instance, she was named school superintendent of the year in San Francisco. (See photo above.)

In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served…

“APS is run like the mob,” one teacher told investigators, saying she cheated because she feared retaliation if she didn’t.

The voluminous report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered the inquiry last year after rejecting the district’s own investigation into suspicious erasures on tests in 58 schools. The AJC first raised questions about some schools’ test scores more than two years ago

For the record, Gov. Perdue is a Republican. He was and still is wildly popular in the state. But he was term limited out of office.

In some schools, the report said, cheating became a routine part of administering the annual state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The investigators describe highly organized, coordinated efforts to falsify tests when children could not score high enough to meet the district’s self-imposed goals

At Venetian Hills, a group of teachers and administrators who dubbed themselves “the chosen ones” convened to change answers in the afternoons or during makeup testing days, investigators found. Principal Clarietta Davis, a testing coordinator told investigators, [she] wore gloves while erasing to avoid leaving fingerprints on answer sheets

At Gideons Elementary, teachers sneaked tests off campus and held a weekend “changing party” at a teacher’s home in Douglas County to fix answers.

Cheating was “an open secret” at the school, the report said. The testing coordinator handed out answer-key transparencies to place over answer sheets so the job would go faster

At Kennedy Middle, children who couldn’t read not only passed the state reading test, but scored at the highest level possible. At Perkerson Elementary, a student sat under a desk, then randomly filled in answers and still passed

Area superintendents, who oversee clusters of schools, enforced a code of silence. One made a whistle-blower alter his reports of cheating and placed a reprimand in his file — and not the cheater’s. Another told a teacher who saw tampering that if she did not “keep her mouth shut,” she would “be gone.”

Subsequent reports have suggested the teachers also were motivated to boost their students’ scores in order to receive bonuses and awards.

A major reason for the ethical failures in Hall’s administration, the investigators wrote, was that Hall and her senior staff refused to accept responsibility for problems… The district’s priority became maintaining and promoting Hall’s image as a miracle worker…

“Hall became a subject of adoration and made herself the focus rather than the children,” the investigators wrote. “Her image became more important than reality.”

The most amazing thing here is that Georgia’s school teachers are not even unionized.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, July 7th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

25 Responses to “Atlanta Teachers Cheated For Better Scores”

  1. Reality Bytes

    Big Education reminds me of Detroit 1978. “We can’t build small cars & make a profit (sic educate children no matter how much money it costs).”

    For Detroit it was Japan. For the American Education System? Private, corporate, religious institutions.

    The only way public education will survive is if/when China takes over & then just who’s history do you think they’ll be teaching anyway?

    Which reminds me, I need to post “Our Greatest Collective Sin” my first S&L post.

    • We have reached an epic low in our country’s history, and our survival hangs in the balance. We must have an awakening of greater proportions in order to survive. We’ve always been materialistic as a people, and that was once considered a mark of God’s favor. But unchecked materialism is what’s poisoning us, the lust for money and power. Time once was we possessed a counterbalancing spiritual force.

  2. proreason

    In a country where the scion of major crime family commits murder and then becomes the “Lion of the Senate”, what do you expect?

    When the country’s most prominant and digusting queer representative fails to notice that his love bunny is running a prostitution ring from his townhouse, and later becomes the chairman of the committee that regulates Financial Services, who should be surprised that teachers might choose to cheat to boost their incomes.

    When the President of the US has sex in the Oval Office with a very young intern, lies about it, and emerges as the most beloved figure in liberalland, who should be offended by some fudging to make kids look better.

    I could go on, but I really don’t have the couple of months necessary to do a more thorough list….

    • Reality Bytes

      With all due respect to crime families I’m sure.

    • Spot on, proreason!

    • Petronius

      pro : “months necessary to do a more thorough list….”

      He’s got ‘em on the list — he’s got ‘em on the list;
      And they’ll none of ‘em be missed — they’ll none of ‘em be missed.

      song of KoKo, the Lord High Executioner, from The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan

  3. Liberals Demise

    I remember when teaching was an honorable profession. Because of Federal mandates and intrusive intervention by Big Brother; it is nothing more than a babysitting service for Flash Mobs and No habla mofo’s!!

  4. BigOil

    Another case study for privatization of a governmentally monopolized enterprise.

    Let the free market system drive the behavior of these so-called educators. Their incentive to produce a quality education for young skulls full of mush should be driven by survival of the school and their job – not bogus government dictated incentives.

    Take the power away from the government and teachers, and give it back to the parents.

  5. Helena

    Sounds like a communist revolutionary re-education camp:
    “…When principals, in groups of 10 to 12, met annually with Dr. Hall, each school’s scores were displayed on large colorful graphs framed and hung on the wall around her conference room.

    During the meeting, Dr. Hall would ask each principal, one by one, “Are you going to meet targets this year?” No one dared tell her “no.”

    Many principals humiliated teachers in front of their peers for failing to meet goals. For example, at Fain Elementary School, the principal forced a teacher to crawl under a table in a faculty meeting because that teacher’s students’ test scores were low.”

    APS teacher forced to crawl under table at faculty meeting because of low test scores | Get Schooled
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schoo.....st-scores/

  6. Reality Bytes

    RUSH! BECAUSE CHEATING IS AN ENTITLEMENT! That’s why Atlanta isn’t burning over this. Now SG has gone and ruined everything taking away their kid’s free education.

    No child left behind because we ain’t gonna leave none of them behind. Yup! Right through to gragduashun.

  7. oldpuppydixie

    But all we be forgiven because the teachers and the “students” are black.

  8. David

    IMO, the tragedy is that these teachers/admins reinforced the hopelessness of these children in poverty. They reinforced the idea that these kids are irrelevant and it will never matter what they do or hard hard they try. These teachers need jail time following the mill stone around the neck principal!

  9. GL0120

    I was taught by Catholic nuns who didn’t give a hairy rat’s anal region about a kid’s self respect.
    They were there to teach, you were there to learn, and there was no middle ground.
    Change answers so your test scores would look good? Are you nuts?
    They figured to hell with changing the scores, they’d change the student!
    I don’t know of a single nun who ever asked my permission to whack me in the back of the head for not paying attention or apologized for it later.
    Go home and cry to my parents? Yeah. go ahead and get another whacking!
    We need to forget this crap about how a student feels and get back to what they know; if they don’t want to learn, they can drop out, the rest of the kids will be better off without them.

  10. LarryG

    Any black people involved? Hah! The word is STUPID!

  11. Airmail56

    Part of George Bush’s ‘No child left behind’ program, was the removal of substandard teachers. Guess what Obama did with that provision?

  12. canary

    The teachers cheating on grades is about federal stimulus money. I’ve not been aware of actually changing the grades outside of school. It’s done freely in the schools.

    The rule of thumb is checking the brightest student’s grade as a guideline. If the brightest students do poor
    then they’ll add a number of points on all the students’ scores to bring the grades up.

    There are many tests such as benchmarks, state level tests, or a teacher might have open book tests, where they student can use their book during test.

    Any improvement in students grades computerized at a state level leads to a federal stimulus pay out.

    Changing to meet Obama’s act just signed (the one Michelle came up with) means more federal stimulus money.

    One of the most rewarded requirements is having the students raise funds and do community service.

    There is what I call ghost classes the school will say they’ve added to show they’ve improved. Such as Chinese language classes, computer classes that they really don’t have. Just looks good on paper to the
    govt.

    Another big problem is the pressure for all teachers to become Nationally Certified. It’s a joke, and just means a teacher has done creative teaching, or doing a recycling program. The more National
    Certified (which does not mean more education or class teacher took, just a bogus thing) the more federal stimulus money

    AP classes is a big deal and money for tests. School says they have more students in AP classes more money.
    ACT tests doubled this year in price.

    Won’t I don’t understand is how a private muslim school I know of getting federal stimulus money. It’s private and a religious school. Go figure.

    Students doing community service at schools rules not only gets federal stimulus money, but
    it aids the teachers into becoming Nationally Certified. This means the teacher has gone beyond
    normal teaching. To get this worthless certification, which is meaningless except paper, the more who get labeled, the more federal stimulus money. This program encourages teachers to be creative.

  13. Right of the People

    I guess they chillins ain’t learning now is deh?

  14. Liberals Demise

    Does this mean that the lady in the picture above has to give back the trinket
    around her neck? That just wouldn’t be cricket now, mmmmph?

    • canary

      I seem to be alone witnessing the absolute turn around of the school officials once Obama was elected.

      Add ghost AP packets to do during the summer. You get the run around for years, to learn they don’t exist. Looks good on paper a school giving these out.

      More worthless elective classes than ever to create jobs for teachers.

      I kid you not !!!!!!
      Your Sr. year you can take classes on nail manicures & fake nails for careers. Fashion classes to help you get a minimum wage job at a mall. Food services so they have a better chance of getting hired at a fast food chain.

      Classes labeled for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades that are required, really are just for Sr. and even then
      there is a chance your student won’t get it.

      More electives than ever to create teacher classes. While the “required for graduation and college bound classes” you have to fight tooth and nail. On paper their for several grades, but only the Seniors get them crunching last minute to meet the for ever changing requirements such as
      Environmental Science on ACT tests now.

      I kid you not. Here is a typical Sr. level “English subject” finish the sentence problem.

      While the engine of a car is turned off, pollution and toxins do not enter the atmosphere. Once the key in the ignition is turned, and the auto engine starts ____________________.

      Then you chose a. b. c. or d.

      Another typical question is

      The forest, a habitat for the owl was cut down. This left the owl ____________________.

      a. b. c. d.

      My son always has coaches teaching more an more core subjects, beyond the normal “history” the coaches taught. When they did away with “Civics” they gave the teachers new roles in “leadership
      volunteer fund raising” which is very important as it brings in the Obama money.

      I’m more stunned to learn what teachers are making when they do stupid things like have high school
      students write children books! $$$$ They don’t get their books with illustrations back.

  15. yadayada

    canary–
    two of my wife’s clients are high scool teachers.
    they confirmed your rant, you are absolutely correct.

  16. Anonymoose

    The saddest thing in all this is the whole machine that was created nominally to “think of the children” in the end begins feeding itself, and these kids at some point will have to show what they’ve learned and fail miserably.

    Teaching has been seriously messed up for decades; I first encountered the attitudes of “modern” teachers when I worked at a grocery store in college. One of of my co-workers in her 30’s was working on her teaching degree and kept asking me why I wasn’t going into teaching. I finally told her because the jobs didn’t pay well and it wouldn’t be rewarding. Her response was to kick me as hard as she could and then tell me she never wanted to hear me say anything bad about teaching again. That was a really good way to convince me—and that whole outlook is why teaching is where it is today. This store, BTW, was a union job so it was no good to report her.

    I knew I’d made the right choice a few years later when I ran into one of my high school teachers who’d been state Teacher of the Year and had all kinds of rewards, but was now near retirement and ranted on about how little money she had and how unhappy she’d been.

    How long has it been going on with the funny stuff of “zero tolerance” policies where kids are being suspended for “drugs” because they take vitamins or aspirins to school? Or a weapon policy that expels kids for pointing a finger and going “bang,” but the troublemakers who don’t want to learn and disrupt classes are given, sixth, seventh, eighth, and so on chances to do right?

    Being a teacher in most states today requires a fingerprint background check, but pays worse than manufacturing jobs. Politicians and legislators dictate new policies and educational directives, and the school systems scramble to show they’re accommodating and following along, yet the kids aren’t learning anything. They have more class offerings than some colleges, but the jobs the diplomas get are fast food. When is everyone going to wake up and see what’s happening?

  17. GetBackJack

    A fat black woman who is credentialed rather than educated – color me shocked.

  18. BigOil

    Ms. Hall is not only dishonest, but she is cheap as well. A 400K salary and she only gave $200 to the Messiah’s campaign. I had her pegged for maxing out.

  19. The Redneck

    I’m an education right now–in a third college and heading for a fourth–and I can tell you first hand the system for teaching our teachers is absolute crap. I have yet to be taught a single thing about putting together a lesson plan, evaluating a student’s progress, or handling a discipline problem, but I’ve been told over and over again what a wonderful, selfless person I am for deciding to teach, that student failure is never a teacher’s fault, that we are all racists and this is why people do badly in schools, and that private schools need to be abolished. I even have a teacher that took a great deal of my money to openly advocate socialist revolution in the classroom. My most recent lesson included the warning that any religious groups that help a school need to be watched carefully, because our professor had one Christian counselling group that encouraged kids who were wondering about their sexuality to not engage in homosexual activity and even (gasp!) encouraged pregnant girls to not get abortions. There’s a reason that unrepentant socialist terrorist Bill Ayers is a professor of Education.

    Teaching is a secondary concern–at best–for today’s teachers.


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