Massive Cheating by Principals/Teachers in Atlanta Public Schools

You’ve seen those reports about our students’ test scores improving, right?

I’ve seen them too and I was skeptical. Why? Because those reports simply went against everything else we know about our declining culture, standards, and our young people. As an example, a Marist Poll found that 1 of 4 Americans (26%) do not even know against which country the American Revolution was fought! Some of the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain.

So, it comes as no surprise to learn this morning of the massive cheating that’s been going on in the public school system of Atlanta, Georgia.

Beverly Hall was Atlanta’s schools superintendent during the cheating (photo credit: AJC.com)

Mark Strassman reports for CBS News, July 5, 2011, that 80% (or 44 out of 56) of the public schools in Atlanta were found to have cheated on tests — for the last 10 years. The cheating wasn’t done by students, but by 178 principals and teachers.

Dozens of 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 confessed.

Potential whistle-blowers were bullied, or worse. At one Atlanta high school, former teacher Paul Landerman saw a teacher helping 50 students change test answers. He reported it. The next day, he says, he was fired because “The greatest value inside that system is loyalty to the system.”

The motive for cheating?

It was to show phony progress at often troubled schools, which of course brought out the usual liberal scapegoating finger-pointers, such as NYU professor Diane Ravitch who blames a federal law that links funding with test performance: “We have a terrible federal law called No Child Left Behind that says that all schools have to have 100 percent of their students proficient in reading in math by the year 2014 or their schools will be shut down.”

You can see Ravitch on fellow-liberal Jon (“I’m not partisan! I’m not an activist!”) Stewart’s show HERE.

The school investigation is very critical of Beverly Hall, former superintendent of Atlanta’s public school system. Atlanta schools showed such progress during her term that in 2009, Hall was named America’s superintendent of the year. But investigators say Hall either knew of the cheating, or should have. She has denied that, but in her retirement video last month blamed other employees.: “I am confident that aggressive, swift action will be taken against anyone who believes so little in our students and in our system of support that they turned to dishonesty as the only option.”

Potential whistle-blowes were bullied, or worse. At one Atlanta high school, former teacher Paul Landerman saw a teacher helping 50 students change test answers. He reported it. The next day, he says, he was fired because “The greatest value inside that system is loyalty to the system.”

Atlanta’s cheating involved the same sort of standardized tests used all over the country. Atlanta’s scandal is the biggest in recent years, but other school systems, in Baltimore, Houston and Detroit, have had isolated cheating issues on state-wide tests.

As for whether there could be worse punishment for the cheaters, a standardized test is a government document. Altering one in Georgia can be a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Isn’t it interesting that when you click “Salaries” on the Atlanta Public Schools Human Resource Services website, you get this error message:

“Server Not Found.”

Undeterred, I did find the following information on the Teacher Portal website:

The teacher/student ratio is Atlanta, GA is 13.7

TeacherPortal’s Salary Rank for Georgia public schools: 3rd

For Georgia public school teachers:

  • Starting Salary: $34,442
  • Average Salary:  $48,300
  • Salary Raise Last Year: 3.81%
  • Salary Raise Last 10 Years: 42.1%

Hmm, let me see if I got this right:

  • Cheating by teachers in Atlanta public schools is believed to have gone on for 10 years.
  • The same Atlanta public school teachers enjoyed a salary increase of 42.1% in the last 10 years.

We know there’s one thing Atlanta’s public school students have learnt:

Cheating pays!

UPDATE (April 1, 2013):

Nearly two years after the cheating scandal came to light, former superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other administrators are finally indicted — on racketeering and conspiracy. See “Justice! – Former superintendent indicted for Atlanta public schools cheating.

~Eowyn

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Esther CarrKaren HDr. Kenneth TennantDCGEowyn Recent comment authors
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Doc's wife
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Doc's wife

I am fairly certain that this is a common practice. Our oldest daughter has taught in our local school sytem for over ten years. Several years ago, she began to notice that one of her fellow second grade teachers was holding onto the tests longer than anyone. She was able to get another teacher to see them, and they were full of erasure marks–way more than normal. She reported this to her principal for two years that I know of. Guess what–she is still teaching, and nothing has changed!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Left/liberals blame Bush and high standards, of course.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Blame the overhaul that happened in education in the 1960s, when standards fell for students, curricula were modified, and real learning went out the window. When the idiots from my high school graduating class began teaching, they didn’t know what they were doing. Add to that, teachers didn’t even need to know chemistry if that was what they taught. Ditto, maths. Double ditto, history. No long reading lists for us. No requirement to know how to deeply read and analyze prose or poetry. None of that. It wasn’t until I went back to school to learn what I had missed,… Read more »

Linda
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Linda

I am not surprised that some districts and schools have cheated to get their funding. A government that uses threats and bribes to distribute funding to public schools, for which the government has made itself responsible; is egregious. We pay taxes to the government for the support of schools. There can be no ifs ands or buts. Here’s a good example of how far some schools will go to make sure they get their funding to stay open and teach: The elementary school that my grand kids went to for a couple of years taught to the test all year… Read more »

Dave
Editor

I was held hostage and abused by the Atlanta government school system for the 1st and 2nd grades. My parents pulled me and my siblings out, put a for sale sign out front, and bought a house in East Cobb, where they promptly enrolled all three of us in private school. You have no idea how glad I am that my parent’s had the resources to do that. Some of my friends weren’t as fortunate as I was to be able to escape the clutches of one of the most hideous government school operations in America. And that was way… Read more »

Dave
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Susan
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Susan

Beverly Hall is an embarrassment to the City of Atlanta. This is just another example of why not to live in Atlanta. I hope the bitch enjoyed her bonus money at our expense.

microserf
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microserf

Doesn’t surprise me, it’s all about the numbers and funding. I have my 2 daughters lined up at a private high school. A bargain at 15.000$ a year. 20 students max. per class and a first grade education, a real education. I see this as an investment and quite frankly a necessity due to the state of public schools. Just recently I had a colleague present research at a national conference that was mine, while I was sitting in the audience waiting to present myself. This person took work from my computer,removed my name, added theirs and presented it as… Read more »

Jack
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Jack

I work in the largest school system in Maryland and I can tell you for a fact that this goes on in every single school in our district. For some inexplicable reason teachers maintain possession of the tests long after the exam has taken place. Plus, it’s not uncommon for a teacher to look over the test ahead of the exam and teach the exact information (with real examples) that will be on the test. Any rational person would question why teachers are allowed to have the tests so far ahead of the exam and why they are allowed to… Read more »

Dr. Kenneth Tennant
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Dr. Kenneth Tennant

Iowa’s worse. Bettendorf Community School District superintendent Theron Schutte was indifferent to the fact that BMS Dean, Mark Sade, lied on our son and issued a 3 day out-of-school suspension. The school Board said we could petition them to put it on their agenda & IF it was allowed, we could speak for 5 minutes, there would be no discussion & no action. We filed formal complaints with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Director George Mauer, Investigator Beth Myers. They are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. We submitted a signed statement by the student… Read more »

Dr. Kenneth Tennant
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Dr. Kenneth Tennant

“Education begins when you forget all that you learned in school” – Albert Einstein. “Don’t let school get in the way of your education” – Mark Twain. Ben Franklin & Abe Lincoln only had about two years of formal education. They were intelligent because of it. They had the freedom to explore their interests, not some bureaucrat collecting a six figure salary. Tell CONgress to stop throwing money at the problem. They only encourage the corruption. Cut the Dept. of Edumacation. It is overfed and under nourished. Cut the fat cat administration. Cut out the brain tumors. Less is more.… Read more »

Esther Carr
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Esther Carr

I’ve been watching a bit of the teacher cheating going on in Atlanta. I wanted to tell someone why don’t they use a type of permanent ink pen for students to use. Neither the teacher or student can change the answer so students should think twice before entering answer.