UPDATE 3:40: Atherton Elementary Principal James Berry has resigned. He and Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander face accusations of cheating from system officials. The school is one of four implicated by the state in a possible test cheating probe.
Georgia officials said yesterday they are investigating whether teachers, administrators or other adults changed answers on the summer CRCT exam at four elementary schools, the Associated Press has reported.
The changes made scores improve so significantly that the schools were able to meet the testing goals of No Child Left Behind, according to officials with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Schools that fail to meet the federal law’s rules face increasingly severe sanctions.
The four schools are: Atherton Elementary in DeKalb County, Deerwood Academy in Atlanta, Parklane Elementary in Fulton County and Burroughs-Molette Elementary in Glynn County.
An article that ran in the AJC in December raised questions about how some students at Atherton, Parklane and other campuses were able to improve so significantly in just a few months.
The questioned exam was a summer retest of the CRCT. Students who failed the exam in the spring took the retest.
The four schools had high numbers of erasures on the fifth-grade math retest, according to the state audit. While the state average was 2 erasures for most students, one of the reviewed schools had more than 20 per student. The majority of the changes were switched to the correct answer.
When the AJC wrote about this issue in December local school officials said scores increased because of targeted tutoring and other strong teaching methods used during summer school.
But the state audit found the summer school teachers were unqualified. The review also found the schools had weak test security.
What drives schools to cheat on exams? How common do you think this is?
NOTE: AJC reporter Alan Judd is trying to get in touch with teachers, administrators or other employees who worked at Atherton, Parklane or Deerwood during the summer of 2008. If you can provide any information, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.