Does the CRCT cheating scandal hurt students?

The Georgia Board of Education is expected to vote today to throw out the CRCT scores earned by four schools accused of cheating.

Adults at the schools are accused of changing students’ answers on last summer’s fifth-grade math CRCT retest, a move that boosted each school’s overall scores and allowed them to meet federal testing standards.

The four accused schools are — Atlanta’s Deerwood Academy, DeKalb County’s Atherton Elementary School, Fulton County’s Parklane Elementary School and Glynn County’s Burroughs-Molette Elementary.

Two administrators from Atherton Elementary have been arrested and investigations are going on in the other school systems and communities. State officials say Atlanta school officials have refused to acknowledge that the results are tainted.

Questions remain over whether this scandal has hurt students.

What was the fallout for these kids since passing the exam meant they were promoted to sixth-grade, where the lessons are harder and the expectations more demanding? The tainted scores make it impossible for teachers to use the results to identify where students struggled. It paints a fake picture of what students learned.

Kathleen Mathers, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, provided some answers Wednesday by looking at how the retest students performed on the sixth-grade math CRCT they took this spring.

Those students didn’t do well. While all of Atherton’s fifth-graders passed last summer’s retest, only 41.4 percent passed the sixth-grade exam this year. She said the results were similar from students from the other accused schools.

Will these students continue to struggle in math? What about the additional pressure their problems will place on teachers and other students?

What other punishment do you think the state should dole out to those involved in the cheating scandal?

The AJC is interested in speaking with the parents of these students and the sixth-grade teachers who taught these kids. If you can provide any insight please leave a comment below or contact Nancy Badertscher, at nbadertscher@ajc.com.

36 comments Add your comment

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
8:55 am

Fallout for the kids? You’ve got to be kidding.

If you really think they would have been retained if they had received the scores they should have earned, you haven’t been reading the AJC’s own articles showing that it really doesn’t matter whether they pass or fail the CRCT – they’re “moving on up” regardless.

Chris

July 9th, 2009
9:35 am

Suuuuuuuuure is funny that this happened only at all black schools. Yet another great example of that fantastic black leadership!

Alan

July 9th, 2009
9:44 am

Sure is funny how each of the schools were all black schools. Another great example of that fantastic black leadership!

Nikole

July 9th, 2009
9:46 am

“black leadership”? If you have nothing of value to contribute to the topic at hand, please keep your comments to yourself.

No this does not impact kids, because kids they would have probably gone on to the next grade anyway.

Courtney

July 9th, 2009
9:49 am

These are the types of schools to Socially promote any ways. These kids will be promoted if they scored all questions wrong.

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
10:30 am

Of course, we could ask (yet again) what the fallout for ALL the socially promoted students in Georgia might be….because there are students all over the state each year who are promoted to the next grade, “where the lessons are harder and the expectations more demanding” and where the students are expected to use the skills they DID NOT LEARN in the previous grade…

Kindergarten/4thGrade Parent

July 9th, 2009
10:32 am

When the story broke, the thing that interested me most was the following excerpt: “preliminary results of the audit by the Office of Student Achievement shows the schools had lax security during administration of the tests and the students had unqualified educators teaching their summer school classes”.

It would seem that the schools’ security & the levels of teacher qualification are facts known well in advance of testing day, for them to be addressed in a preliminary report indicates just how essential these services are, and how badly they were lacking.

Doling out punishment is necessary, yes, but ignoring the root causes of the issue will not prevent the situation from repeating elsewhere in the state. What support mechanisms and/or resources did those schools NOT have that led to such act of desperation? What, if any, unique circumstances are the schools expected to face in the future and how can they best be prepared? What are the protocols to ensure that students AND schools are adequately prepared in advance of testing?

Georgia consistently ranks among the nation’s lowest in test scores, I believe in large part due to the fact that teachers are pressured to “teach the test” rather than teach the necessary information along with test taking skills that help ensure success. Last year, 41% of 8th graders failed the social studies portion. Cox had the curriculum changed to better prep the students, 37% of 8th graders failed the social studies portion failed this year. This issue about more than 4 rogue schools…the State of Georgia must do better!

So yes, punish the guilty, but let’s not forget to actually help the children while we’re at it.

Alan

July 9th, 2009
10:35 am

NiKole. Nice way to spell your name. Can’t do it the normal way like Nicole huh? Why are you upset with my post? All I did was speak the truth.

Cheniqua

July 9th, 2009
10:36 am

When the story broke, the thing that interested me most was the following excerpt: “preliminary results of the audit by the Office of Student Achievement shows the schools had lax security during administration of the tests and the students had unqualified educators teaching their summer school classes”.

It would seem that the schools’ security & the levels of teacher qualification are facts known well in advance of testing day, for them to be addressed in a preliminary report indicates just how essential these services are, and how badly they were lacking.

Doling out punishment is necessary, yes, but ignoring the root causes of the issue will not prevent the situation from repeating elsewhere in the state. What support mechanisms and/or resources did those schools NOT have that led to such act of desperation? What, if any, unique circumstances are the schools expected to face in the future and how can they best be prepared? What are the protocols to ensure that students AND schools are adequately prepared in advance of testing?

Georgia consistently ranks among the nation’s lowest in test scores, I believe in large part due to the fact that teachers are pressured to “teach the test” rather than teach the necessary information along with test taking skills that help ensure success. Last year, 41% of 8th graders failed the social studies portion. Cox had the curriculum changed to better prep the students, 37% of 8th graders failed the social studies portion failed this year. This issue about more than 4 rogue schools…the State of Georgia must do better!

So yes, punish the guilty, but let’s not forget to actually help the children while we’re at it.

Sammi

July 9th, 2009
10:46 am

ScienceTeahcer 671 has hit on the most important question:” what’s the fallout for ALL the socially promoted students…” Add to that the consequences for those students sitting in Algebra classes yet they cannot do long division, much less fractions , those in 8th grade English and/or Literature classes yet they cannot read above a 3rd grade level nor write a complete sentence.
Finally,with the hyper low cut off scores set by the state, those who DO pass the CRCT are in need of a great deal of remediation because they still not on grade level on any normed referenced measurement .

catlady

July 9th, 2009
11:04 am

Thank you, Scienceteacher671! The scandal is that 90% of the kids who fail the CRCT are sent on FROM MOST SCHOOLS EACH YEAR! From my school, 100% of the kids who fail it are sent on. EVERY SINGLE ONE! So sending those kids (whose administrators cheated )on did no more harm that usual.

Untill we quit sending on kids that have failed to master basic skills, we will get what we have got. And the “efforts” to address problems with “needs based instruction”, ignoring the idea that skills are sequential, so putting a kid with first grade skills in a third grade classroom and expecting the teacher to teach both the first and second grade skills WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY TEACHING THE THIRD GRADE SKILLS THAT DEPEND ON THE FIRST AND SECOND GRADE SKILLS is horseradish, pure and simple. And the idea that RTI “solves” the problem is a joke, at least as it has been implemented in my county. Finally, “exposing” kids to concepts, instead of teaching them to mastery, has proven to be a disaster. And demanding inclusion, where disabled kids, ESOL kids, slow kids, BD kids, gifted kids, and average kids are lumped together is destroying the chances that most of the kids will get what they need. FIVE STRIKES AND WE ARE OUT!

AJC, why don’t you investigate some of this?

Seen it all

July 9th, 2009
11:07 am

Of course it doesn’t hurt the kids. In reality, the CRCT doesn’t really matter to the students. The CRCT is only important to the adults- i.e. school staff. The school staff makes a big deal about the test and worries SOME students and parents. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. Pass or fail, you are still moving on.

There are students who fail the CRCT year after year. They go to summer school repeatedly. I know of students who have been to summer school several times in their school careers because of failing the CRCT.

Yesterday I read that Cobb Supt. Fred Sanderson says he supports using the CRCT. I would guess that J. Alvin Wilbanks (Gwinnett Supt), Kathy Cox (State school supt), and other school supts support the CRCT. Why? Because for them, the CRCT represents an instrument of control. Tests like the ITBS or NAEP don’t hold the same sway over principals, teachers, students, parents, and community like the CRCT.

And remember people, American schools aren’t really about educating people and preparing them to succeed in tomorrow’s global economy. It’s about power, control, and indoctrination.

catlady

July 9th, 2009
11:12 am

Please find and post my last comment or explain why it was deleted.

Fulton Teacher

July 9th, 2009
11:39 am

Just as many have already stated, this scandal will not hurt students. You couldn’t offer enough money for me to be a principal. They are under enormous pressure to make sure that students pass a test. It’s ridiculous! And yes, students are passed on regardless. The only students I’ve ever seen retained are the ones that are failing their core classes.

Chris and Alan, there’s nothing strange about all of the schools being black. This is Atlanta not Colorado! There are more blacks residing in the Atlanta area. And you’re foolish enough to think that teachers and administrators in predominately white schools don’t cheat, think again! They all cheat. Cheating didn’t just start happening. And it won’t end even with all the hoopla surrounding these 4 schools. NCLB needs to be revamped. Trust me, white administrators value their jobs as much as any other ethnic group.

Dedicated40Years

July 9th, 2009
11:40 am

Enter your comments here

Dedicated40Years

July 9th, 2009
11:41 am

My comments are lost. Please retrieve.

therese persaud

July 9th, 2009
11:43 am

There are more ways of “cheating’ than by simply erasing answers . I wonder whether we could observe how itis done in ‘lily white’ schools? As for this whole punitive way of dealing with the education of our young is absolutely appalling. Our early education philosophers , psychologists , curriculum writers etc must be turning in their graves to know that the whole education system is ‘under the gun’ !What of holistic learning , flexibility , time for the young to grow develop and ENJOY the whole process of exploring life ( which is really what learning is) ??? Schools and personnel need equality of resources, moralsupport support ,and knowledgeable leaders not politically biased individuals at the state department .

Rage against the Chicago machine

July 9th, 2009
11:55 am

There are probably a lot more schools doing the same thing, on a more discreet level. These kids have to learn how to get by in the New World Order, where fraud and theft are rewarded.

Dr. Duh

July 9th, 2009
12:00 pm

Duh. APS’s West Manor and Capitol View Elementary Schools scored 100% on the math and reading tests? Come now. Kathy Cox, Mark Elgart (the “holy” educrat sitting atop Mt. Alpharetta), Sonny Perdue, Brad Bryant, et al., are you guys at home? Want to expose some more cheating? I think that you need to just start at West Manor and Capitol View. No politician REALLY wants to expose any more of these sordid activities happening within the Testing-Industrial-Monopolistic Complex. These Standardized Tests are supposed to demonstrate to a gullible public that “progress” is being made. Duh. Standardized Testing on this massive scale only results in uniform, systematic cheating. Atlanta Public Schools. Cheating Too. Check it out, guys. No, don’t bury your heads in the sand. Chickens! Something in the milk “ain’t” clean! The three biggest hypocrites in public education in Georgia…SACS’s Mark Elgart, DeKalb’s Crawford Lewis, and Atlanta’s Beverly Hall. Capitol View Elementary School. West Manor Elementary School. 100%? Dun. I just don’t think that it happened without impermissable intervening variables. Does that mean cheating? You decide. Something in the milk “ain’t” clean.

Steve

July 9th, 2009
12:03 pm

Science teacher, Catlady – who is going to foot the bill for retaining tose that don’t pass? Do you really want some 17 year old thug that cannot pass the test – in class with your sweet little 12 year old daughter? Do you think that middle schools keep all the good ones and just send the ones that cannot pass? And, those that cannot read or write were there bbefore the CRCT and will be there long after the CRCT passes away. Society needs these that can’t pass to do those menial jobs that msost do not want – flip burgers, work at Walmart, sweep floors, run DOE, etc. They are important ut the reality is – just how important is math and reading to getting those Post Toasties put on the shelf or putting that burger in a bag? Deal with it or retire because I am not seeing any solutions.

Steve

July 9th, 2009
12:18 pm

Science teacher, Catlady – who is going to foot the bill for retaining tose that don’t pass? Do you really want some 17 year old thug that cannot pass the test – in class with your sweet little 12 year old daughter? Do you think that middle schools keep all the good ones and just send the ones that cannot pass? And, those that cannot read or write were there bbefore the CRCT and will be there long after the CRCT passes away. Society needs these that can’t pass to do those menial jobs that msost do not want – flip burgers, work at Walmart, sweep floors, run DOE, etc. They are important ut the reality is – just how important is math and reading to getting those Post Toasties put on the shelf or putting that burger in a bag? Deal with it or retire because I am not seeing any solutions.
Let us start – Why doesn’t Georgia release the test every year? How hard can it be? Multiple states currently release every year. May DOE would actually have to work then?
Why won’t DOE tell teachers which students miss which questions? How can a teacher fix something when they don’t know what is broken? If most low level get a question wrong but middle and upper get it right then they would know to teach that concept differently. Conversly, if high level miss but middle and low get it right then they might have over-taught? Called ease index and differentiation. When I asked this question if Cox she was dumbfounded and not a clue. I guess this is not important for DOE.
Why does it take 3 months to get results back? I am not talking superficial stuff emailed to schools, I am talking test results that have some meaning and value. What good is it to get scores released in July?

Bobbie

July 9th, 2009
12:18 pm

No, this does not have the dire impact that some would want or expect, because if and when students do not pass the CRCT, students and parents have the right to meet with a panel at the school to discuss the student’s grades throughout the entire school year. If the student has passing grades, the student can be promoted to the next grade, reguardless of his or her CRCT test scores. This has been established because officials felt that it would be unfair to retain students based on CRCT test scores alone.Some students (like some adults) do not test well due to test stress etc. If students fail the test and have failing grades, they are the ones that are retained and/or recommanded for specialized classes, tutorial, counseling ect. It appears the alot of people are misinformed about how and why students are promoted to the next grade when they have failed various subject ares on the CRCT. Also, adults need to take into consideration what we are doing to our children. Can you possibly imagine placing so must stress for passing a test on a child? Think about what taking a test does to you as an adult. I feel that a TEST is causing us to treat students and the teachers who truly care about students unfairly.We should move away from teaching to pass a test, propaganda, finger pointing, and cruel and unusual punishment all based on “no child left behind” which needs to be revisted and reformed.

Tony

July 9th, 2009
12:19 pm

What about hurting the students? Requiring the CRCT as a high stakes test hurts students. All the things adults do to manipulate the testing results hurt students. Teaching to the test and ignoring the wealth of learning opportunities not covered on the test hurts students. Eliminating recess to have a few more minutes of “instruction” each day hurts students. Eliminating field trips that aren’t test related hurts students. Punitive funding formulas for schools that have lower performance hurts students. Eliminating art and music because they are not “on the test” hurts students. Should I go on?

The irrelevant AJC

July 9th, 2009
12:38 pm

Again and again, when evidence has been presented that cheating is a widespread, not isolated problem, the one thing education officials can take to the bank is that the AJC won’t report on it.

Testing, testing 1, 2, 3

July 9th, 2009
1:05 pm

From http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/no-child-left-behind/reports/testing-making-it-work-children-schoo-0

“NCLB requires states to implement annual assessments, aligned with state standards, in reading and mathematics for grades 3-8 and at least once in grades 10-12 (seven different grade levels). Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, states must also assess students in science once in each of three grade spans: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12. States are required to provide for participation of all students including those with disabilities and LEP students. These requirements build on the 1994 authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which required states to put in place standards and tests in reading and mathematics at three grade levels.”

Key words – STANDARDS-BASED – unfortunately for all who have a “heart-on” for the ITBS, it is not standards-based and does not fulfill the requirements for NCLB. If you read the article it does talking about problems with testing as implemented by NCLB – they are numerous. As I see it, the biggest problem is with the legislation, not the tests. ITBS and NAEP don’t “hold the same sway over principals, teachers, students, parents, and community like the CRCT” because Federal funding, school rating, and student promotion don’t hinge on them.

For the record, Sanderson said this about the two types of tests:

“It’s a Criterion-Referenced Test so you’re comparing a kid against a particular criteria whereas on the other ones, they’re nationally normed tests, so you’re comparing kids with another group of kids. The problem with some of the national tests, and I agree, we need to have a balance of them, but it’s dictated as to when you take them. You know, CRCT everybody takes them at the same time. A national test is not necessarily that way, so if we give them one day and North Carolina gives them six months later, then you’re comparing those two together and maybe that’s not the way it should be, so there’s some things you’ve got to look at, but a lot of times you’re looking at apples and oranges so you’ve got to be careful.”

Joy in Teaching.

July 9th, 2009
3:12 pm

The scandal will not hurt students in the least. CRCT is only done for AYP purposes. Students will still be socially promoted and business will go on as usual.

Concern teacher

July 9th, 2009
3:14 pm

This hurt the students. In the end, if passed or not they did not comprehend the information given enough, so what is going to happen to these students in middle school and high school? What about the students who were not given enough time to complete the allotted time for the CRCT test. One school in particular, the administrators did not give some students the allotted time to complete the test, another Dekalb Cty school. Are we focusing on teaching or test scores? Student achievement or teaching for the test?

Nikole

July 9th, 2009
3:14 pm

Alan–I was actually addressing Chris, but I guess that was your post too. I think your characterization of “black leaders” is unfair to those that aren’t cheating or are successful leaders. And I spell my name the way my mother preferred for it to be spelled. Just like you can go by the name Alan or Chris or whatever else you choose.

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
4:12 pm

Bobbie, don’t delude yourself. A student who cannot pass the CRCT has NOT mastered the skills needed to succeed in the next grade. The student MAY have good grades because the teacher graded on “effort” instead of “mastery”, but the skills are not there.

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
9:39 pm

Steve, excellent points about the lack of openness and accountability from the DOE. There used to be a law that required tests to be released during a certain time frame. Was the law changed, or is DOE flouting it? In either case, WHY? (I don’t expect the AJC to ask or answer those questions.)

You are correct that some students will never be “proficient”…but there are some who might be, or might at least be closer to proficient, IF they knew there were consequences for not passing, or IF we had actual remediation (instead of just social promotion and the relaxing of standards known as “RTI”) in place.

Cere

July 9th, 2009
9:52 pm

“Add to that the consequences for those students sitting in Algebra classes yet they cannot do long division, much less fractions…”

Haven’t you heard, Sammie? We don’t teach Algebra anymore. Georgia is implementing a “new” math program that they have cobbled together from three different programs – from Texas, Japan and South Carolina (interesting mix). They haven’t yet devised tests to see if students are learning the new way or not. Even so – we are jumping on it full steam ahead in DeKalb – Math I, II, III and IV and then things like calculus. Time will tell…..

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/

ShooShee

July 9th, 2009
9:54 pm

Concern teacher – please tell me you are not really a teacher.

ScienceTeacher671

July 9th, 2009
10:32 pm

ShooShee..dittoes.

Deeply Concerned

July 10th, 2009
8:06 pm

I hate to reiterate what has been said on another post in another manner, however the fact of the matter is a student who passes the CRCT may not have mastered the skills needed to perform well in advancing grades. The passing requirement on this “high stakes test” is roughly 48%. Wow, such mastery!! Even if a student passes the test, there is still a chance that they will not be successful in the coming years. That is the nature of this test in which everyone has so much faith.

As for the “statistics” involved. It has always been amusing to me that people do not realize statistics are easily manipulated to show what a person wants to see. Why do you think one year statistics show that milk does a body good, but the next year milk doesn’t have the same effect. Milk didn’t change. But I digress, it is sad to think that somewhere in some school there aren’t some teachers that can move their class to 100% passing rate on a test that merely requires 48% accuracy. The lack of faith that this is possible is even worse. Does this possibility only exsist in rural schools way out in the middle of nowhere, or the upper crust schools because of their good breeding?

At which point do we put our faith back into our children and off of these tests, statistics, and soap-box pointing which measure nothing but the width of various wallets. Is an accusation enough to permanently tar and feather these people or should there be actual proof? The overwhelming evidence by an outside audit of a company that is paid every time a child has to retest. I think it’s great.

MBW

July 10th, 2009
9:04 pm

The kids don’t suffer in the short term…but they suffer in the long term because they are receiving a sub-standard education.

I taught at a middle school in APS a few years ago, and it was a mess. The teaching was horrible, the discipline was out of hand across the school, and the administration turnover was like a revolving door. Yet during one of those years I was there, we some how managed to make “AYP”.

Don’t be fooled…making AYP when your school is lousy doesn’t mean much….it just means that you suck less than you did the year before.

ScienceTeacher671

July 11th, 2009
8:31 am

On any of our state tests – whether CRCT, EOCT, or GHSGT – a student probably does not have the skills to succeed academically at the next level unless he or she has EXCEEDED expectations on the test.

Because, as Deeply Concerned has noted, a student who has merely “MET” expectations had not come close to actually passing the test.