Remember the news in early July that for the past 10 years, 80% (or 44 out of 56) of the public schools in Atlanta had cheated on tests? More shocking still is the fact that the cheating wasn’t done by students, but by 178 principals and teachers.
Dozens of so-called educators erased wrong student answers on state standardized tests, and inserted the right ones. In all, investigators accused 38 principals of cheating and said 82 of the 178 educators they identified as part of the scandal had confessed.
Now comes good news.
Two of the Atlanta public schools “educators” had been forced to leave their jobs. 176 others also will be held accountable.
Vivian Kuo reports for CNN, July 18, 2011, that Keith Bromery, director of media relations for Atlanta’s public school system, said that the two educators stepped down after being issued an ultimatum to quit or be fired. One resigned in person and another went into retirement.
The two were among 178 Atlanta Public Schools employees, including 38 principals, whose jobs are on the line after allegedly being involved in a widespread standardized-test cheating scandal that has caught the attention of federal officials. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “We’ve been in conversation with the inspector general about these cheating scandals and I believe they are looking at them.”
The Department of Education has the power to withhold or add preconditions on federal funding provided to states if it believes efforts to rectify corruption aren’t enough. So far, no federal investigation of Atlanta Public Schools has been launched, but officials say they are weighing several options to support state-led measures to protect against cheating.
Bromery said the 178 educators implicated have been given notice to resign or face termination proceedings. They can resign in person or online and must turn in their keys, access badges and other materials provided to them as employees of the schools.
Already, four area superintendents and a school principal have been replaced. The school board has also mandated ethics training for employees and provide remedial help to perhaps thousands of Atlanta Public Schools students who may have improperly advanced because of the cheating.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said prosecutors will decide whether to bring criminal charges against those involved. The state investigation confirmed widespread cheating in city schools dating as far back as 2001, and said 82 employees acknowledged involvement. The educators implicated were either directly involved in erasing wrong answers on a standardized test, or they knew or should have known what was going on.
Six principals declined to answer investigators’ questions and invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Deal said.
Hold this woman accountable! Beverly Hall was Atlanta’s schools superintendent during the cheating.
The state’s report indicated there was a climate of cheating and a performance-at-all-costs atmosphere during the tenure of previous Superintendent Beverly Hall. Hall has denied the allegation.
The cheating was brought to light after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported about unusual test-score gains at some schools. Investigators discovered a pattern of incorrect test answers being erased and replaced with correct answers.
UPDATE (Aug. 28, 2012):
One of the cheaters, former 5th grade math teacher Shayla Smith, was handed a “guilty” verdict by a tribunal today after just one hour of deliberation. Reportedly, Smith told another teacher that she gave students answers to a test they were taking because she thought them to be “dumb as hell.”