Were warning signs of CRCT cheating ignored by APS because they wanted miracles?

In responding to what appears to be epic levels of cheating at her schools. Dr. Beverly Hall has to answer this question: Did she allow principals to present her with miracles that she failed to question hard enough?

Did APS ever look to see whether students and classes with sudden, unexpected surges in their CRCT scores maintained those levels of proficiency in high school?

For example, the state audit found compelling evidence of answer sheet tampering in 90 percent of Parks Middle School classrooms. Has APS ever followed Parks students through to high schools to compare scores?

Consider this post from someone who says they are an APS high school principal: (Whether he/she is a principal is not critical; it’s the comment that I think is credible and worthy of exploration.) (Also, here is a new map of the possible cheating sites statewide.)

CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW PARKS MIDDLE SCHOOL CAN BEAT OUT INMAN AND SUTTON OR EVEN BUNCH. LOOK AT THE FEEDER SCHOOL DATA AND THEN LOOK AT HIS DATA.  THE FEEDER SCHOOLS ARE DOING POORLY AND THEN THEY GET TO PARKS AND BECOME SMART. THEN CHILDREN FROM PARKS COME TO MY SCHOOL WITH LEVEL THREE AND CAN’T READ.

Many of you have commented that you suspected cheating for many years and that complaints were made. Indeed, AJC reporter Paul Donsky wrote this story in 2001. Now, it seems prophetic. If only Dr. Hall had acted on this issue in 2001. Her reputation and that of her system may not have been on the line today. (Nor did the state respond to the allegations at the time, even though it could have sought an erasure analysis in 2001, which, by the way, is a minimal review and does not catch all instances of cheating.)

Of the 68 elementary schools tested last year, 30 had gains of 30 or more percentage points in one or more CRCT subjects. Ten of those had gains of 40 or more points. And Dobbs is one of 17 Atlanta Public Schools that did well enough to come off the 2000 failing list.

Atlanta school officials say new reform efforts and old-fashioned hard work by teachers and students helped push the district’s scores up.

But amid the cheering, there are some questions. A rise in scores is expected the second year any standardized test is given, as was the case with the CRCT last spring, because students and teachers become more familiar with the test. But sudden 40-, 50- and even 60-point spikes are not common, testing experts say.

“Either somebody is doing a terrific job at something . . . or there’s something inappropriate going on, ” said Gregory Cizek, associate professor of educational measurement and evaluation at the University of North Carolina.

Some of the numbers are astonishing:

> At Dunbar Elementary School near downtown Atlanta, three-quarters of fourth-graders passed the reading portion of the test, compared to about one-quarter last year.

> At M.A. Jones Elementary in west Atlanta near the Atlanta University Center, 88 percent of fourth-graders passed in math compared to 34 percent the year before, a 54-point increase.

> At Thomasville Heights Elementary School in southeast Atlanta, 73 percent of fourth-grade students passed in reading, compared to 19 percent the year before.

Atlanta does about-face

Atlanta’s results are notable because many schools that posted huge gains have student populations that are almost entirely minority and low-income, groups whose test scores historically have lagged far behind. At several schools that posted huge gains, including Thomasville Heights and Cook Elementary schools, nearly all students live in public housing.

Atlanta’s CRCT scores remain below the state average but are in line with neighboring systems in the metro area. However, Atlanta’s scores are rising much faster. For example, 72 percent of Atlanta fourth-grade students passed in English in 2001, a 15 percentage-point jump from the year before. In Fulton County, 80 percent passed in English, a 2-point jump. Clayton County posted a 71 percent pass rate, an 8-point jump. DeKalb County had a 70 percent pass rate, a 3-point jump.

For Atlanta Public School officials, the scores help validate reforms that have been put in place in recent years, such as an intensive reading program designed to boost literacy in early grades. Kathy Augustine, deputy superintendent for instruction, said the district also made sure teachers knew the topics covered on the CRCT. Principals checked regularly to see that those areas were covered in class.

Atlanta school officials say the rise in CRCT scores should not raise eyebrows, pointing out the district’s SAT scores jumped 16 points this year.

Still, Atlanta school officials say they double- and triple-checked the CRCT results, at times examining scores of individual students, to make sure the numbers added up.

That wasn’t enough for Atlanta school board member Jean Dodd, who stormed out of a school board meeting Sept. 17 after expressing concern about the validity of the scores. Her comments came during a portion of the meeting that was closed to the public. The meeting was held to decide the size of Superintendent Beverly Hall’s bonus, which is largely tied to test score results. She received a $47,520 bonus.

“Over a period of 30 years, I taught every grade of elementary school, ” Dodd said in an interview. “I had just not ever seen scores like that before, and so I just . . . made my concerns known.”

Third-party audit sought

Gary Henry, who has studied state testing for years and serves as director of Georgia State University’s Applied Research Center, said Atlanta’s results should be independently verified.

“There will be some folks celebrating Atlanta’s turnaround, and others shaking their heads at these results until you have a third party at arm’s length validate these results, ” said Henry.

The most likely organization to do that is the state Office of Education Accountability, formed last year to grade schools as part of the state’s education reform efforts. OEA Director Davis Nelson said he will be drafting a policy in the coming months to determine when to launch such investigations. Dramatic test score jumps could be one trigger of an inquiry.

Atlanta school officials defend the scores and say there’s no need for such an audit.

“We are proud and our students are proud of the scores, ” said spokeswoman Pat Bowers. “And we believe the results should be allowed to speak for themselves, particularly when reinforced by other test scores over the last year.”

Cheating and manipulation on standardized tests has occurred in other cities, including New Orleans, New York and Fairfield, Conn., where officials in 1996 discovered an unusually high number of wrong answers erased. Two Atlanta high schools were investigated and ultimately cleared last year after allegations arose of cheating on the high school graduation test.

Georgia State’s Henry said there are several possible explanations for Atlanta’s test scores.

“When you look at these numbers, ” he said, “the first reaction is that your jaw is going to drop.” However, he said a much higher percentage of last year’s fourth-graders were enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs than the previous year’s fourth-grade students, making them better prepared. Also, last year’s fourth-graders were also the first in APS to benefit from a new district reading program that targets early grades.

But, he added, “no single factor is likely to explain” the results.

(Also, here is a new map of the possible cheating statewide.)

108 comments Add your comment

Doug

February 12th, 2010
11:31 am

The crooked swine in Atlanta government extends into the school system.

cheating hurts

February 12th, 2010
11:36 am

I don’t care what Beverly Hall says. The scores on the CRCT are not valid in a majority of the schools. These same students transfer to other counties, and they falter terribly. The administrators know that Atlanta has a transient population. They should have known that the system would be exposed. What you do in the dark comes to light. Do I feel sorry for the APS system? No, because the system has a culture of running off teachers who do not bow down to the unethical practices that are promoted and fostered by the school district. Every prinicipal in Atlanta needs to be fired because they knew that cheating was taking place. They are the ones who change the answers themselves. To Beverly Hall, I say start looking for another job. You have ruined the reputation of the APS system along with Kathy Augustine.

TechMan

February 12th, 2010
11:42 am

Next up: the scandal in APS Procurement of technology services.

PappyHappy

February 12th, 2010
11:42 am

The Governor focused on the problem last year. The Superintendent FAILED. Failed to recognize what was going on in her system; failed to have established analytical warning systems; and instead, focused on a score that might render her national recognition — which was recently cited in US NEWS & WORLD REPORT. What analysis was done of those kids in subsequent grades? How did they do? What longitudinal data base was established to track individual students?

sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
11:43 am

Looks like Pandora’s box has finally been opened and the “magic” techniques used by APS to improve test scores just boils down to old fashioned cheating. What the teachers don’t understand is that by passing the students and cheating to make AYP goals, they are actually preventing the spotlight of attention and resources from reaching the kids that need help. In effect, they are saving their butts and bonuses at the expense of the children.

And we started the private school application this morning…

mychael

February 12th, 2010
11:43 am

The problem is that the two High School under investigation were investigated by APS internally. This is a joke

ugaaccountant

February 12th, 2010
11:45 am

Of course they did, no doubt about that.

Highly Qualified

February 12th, 2010
11:50 am

Thanks for affirmative action and these “fine” leaders like Beverly Hall. Just wait until affirmative action doctors are in charge of YOUR health care! Think about it.

If someone is put in charge to fill a quota or because of diversity, then you will suffer the consequence of that decison for generations.

Private school supporter

February 12th, 2010
11:50 am

Does anyone know the demographics of the schools where the “alleged” cheating occurred?

v racer

February 12th, 2010
11:51 am

Fire all the cheating teachers and administrators. then press charges. There are many educated unmployed folks who can do the job better.

Canary in the Mine

February 12th, 2010
11:58 am

Let’s assume that the allegations of cheating in APS are true and therefore most of the gains in achievement are illusory, not real. My question is – what will it take to really improve student outcomes? APS has had stable leadership for over 10 years, arguably with the most outstanding superintendent in the country. (I did say arguably.) That superintendent replaced almost 80 percent of the principals, and upgraded the quality of the teaching workforce. APS spends more than just about any other system in the state of Georgia (probably around $15,000 per student) and has received multi-millions from foundations across the country. If all this doesn’t move the needle, what will?

Disgusted in Douglassville

February 12th, 2010
11:59 am

Isn’t interesting that with all this coverage, not one mention of APS Leader Beverly Hall being named National School Superintendant of the Year last February. One of the key achievements cited was the improvement of all elementary schools. Does she have to give back the $10,000 check? What an embarrassment for the city, and for the AJC to not include in it’s coverage.

@ Canary in the Mine

February 12th, 2010
12:09 pm

Shar

February 12th, 2010
12:10 pm

Money, and only money, talks. The students in the “severe” schools should be eligible for vouchers for the full amount that taxpayers pay per child. There is no excuse for keeping them in schools where the teachers and administrators are so eager to put their own bonuses above the futures of their students. Kathy Cox’ state DOE and Beverly Hall’s APS both were far too interested in making themselves look good to question the “astonishing” results of tests stretching back years. Money should be pouring out of those failed systems and directed to schools where the beleagured and behind students might actually be able to learn.

Any investigation that allows affected administrators or teachers to have any involvement is untrustworthy. Third party investigators should review the data to determine those culpable, and criminal investigation begun. Education takes the lion’s share of our state budget, and this scandal shows that we have been defrauded on a massive scale.

While the criminal probe grinds on, children should be evacuated from the corrupt and tainted schools as soon as possible. Further excuses and waiting for more analysis will only result in yet more of Atlanta’s kids being written off. Get ‘em out and concentrate on salvaging their educations. The kids are the priority, not the system.

Lee

February 12th, 2010
12:10 pm

The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” certainly applies here.

People are human, and yes, that includes teachers and administrators. Given the pressure to pass these standardized tests, it is expected that a (very) small percentage of people will succumb to the pressure and cheat.

But, what we see here with APS is a system that is rotton to the core – and it starts at the top with Beverly Hall. There is no way she did not know that the results were “too good to be true.” No, she accepted, even encouraged them, and walked away with a huge bonus in her pocket.

There should be a major house cleaning of APS starting Monday morning. People need to be terminated and teaching certificates need to be revoked.

But, I predict that will never happen. Beverly Hall will stay on for awhile and eventually move on to some other large, urban school system. A few people will be “allowed to retire” – one or two may be made an example of. Other than that, it will be business as usual.

Maureen Downey

February 12th, 2010
12:11 pm

Disgusted, Actually, you are not reading closely. I mentioned it just yesterday in my post about our interview with her.
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/02/11/aps-dr-hall-wh…er-up-cheating

Hall is a national superintendent of the year

V for Vendetta

February 12th, 2010
12:23 pm

Lee,

You and I are in complete agreement here. There is no hiding the fact that only a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging moron would believe the results that were being generated by APS. Although many would like to assume that Bev Hall is just such a moron, I highly doubt it. I think she is a manipulative, self-serving piece of garbage–but not a moron.

Yes, the house that APS built should be cleaned from top to bottom. In a time when we have one school district attempting to muscle out a good teacher because of her innocent Facebook photos at the same time a major urban system is being ripped apart by cheating (to be soon followed by others . . . cough . . . Dekalb . . . cough), we need to take a good hard look at the people running this state.

Stop voting based on party. Stop voting based on religion. Stop voting based on race.

Vote based on leadership, integrity, and experience. You know, the things that REALLY matter. Wake up.

For once...

February 12th, 2010
12:25 pm

It would be nice to read ONE blog post/article that doesn’t have racist comments. I swear things have gotten worse in the last year….mad much?

Disgusted

February 12th, 2010
12:27 pm

Now go back over the tests from the last 4 or 5 years and see what kind of cheating you find statewide over the years. I’ll bet it will be an eye opener. There is so much more tto this iceberg I’d wager.

sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
12:30 pm

@ Canary in the Mine: The research supporting the book, The Bell Curve, has been debunked dozens of times by other statisical researchers and scientists. Did you know you can use the same dataset used in the book to determine there is statistical relationship between a person’s preferred flavor of ice-cream and their intelligence as measured by IQ?

The two authors and their shady financial supporters were subsequently exposed for their political and social motivations behind their flawed research. If you are relying on a 20+ year old, poorly constructed, politically motivated, erroneous research report to prove your point then YOU HAVE FAILED. Find somewhere else to play your race card…or stick to UNO since you prefer to visit on color so much.

Teaching to the Test

February 12th, 2010
12:31 pm

This “scandal” is the inevitable result of NCLB and teaching to the test. These administrators and teachers were trying to retain funding and save their jobs. Of course, they hurt the kids by doing this. But, what do we expect them to do? It’s really easy to judge them but, I’m sure they felt helpless. We set teachers and students up for failure and then expect the teachers to perform miracles.

@ sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
12:34 pm

Then please answer the question Canary in the Mine posted: “If all this doesn’t move the needle, what will?” Btw have you ever ACTUALLY read the book or do you allow others to do your thinking for you?

Reader

February 12th, 2010
12:40 pm

No Child Left Behind was started by a crooked President and these are the results. He said if your schools aren’t performing up to levels that these certain schools can’t reach, then we snatch away your government funding, thus leaving schools with little or no tax money out in the cold. SADLY, with No Child Left Behind, a lot of students were actually left behind. Now once these problems are solved in APS, a lot more students will be left behind and out in the cold.

yack

February 12th, 2010
12:42 pm

Teachers are a disgrace. Every teacher caught cheating should be summarily fired, ideally sent to jail although that’s not going to happen. This is just disgusting, and a disgrace.

Mack

February 12th, 2010
12:43 pm

It appears that most of schools identified are majority African-American. While no one has proven that the APS cheated on test, the majority of the readers have drawn that conclusion. Indicating that these little African-American boys and girls are not capable of increasing their scores at such levels. I submit that if the schools listed were majority white the argument would have been differently. I find it impossible that such a large number of schools in one district could have conspired to cheat and not one single administrator or teacher exposed these actions. Come on give me a break. Teachers the kids the test is a concept that was invented in middle and upper class majority white school districts, do you not recall what George Bush did while serving as the government of Texas. They taught the children the test, which helped elevate him to the White House.

Echo

February 12th, 2010
12:46 pm

@yack…it was administrators doing the erasing.

Concerned Parent

February 12th, 2010
12:47 pm

These findings are soooo alarming. I am mother of APS students. I would like to know how this could happen. I am under the impression that our system is making great strides and now this! My children’s father would love for them to go to Douglas County Schools were he is and I have opposed. I feel like such a fool! My kids will be in Douglas County Schools sooner than later, now I just pray that they can perform. My children’s schools were not on the failing lists, and are not on the “severe” list regarding erasures, but this is all too much. I can not and will not gamble with my children’s future. I don’t appreciate the fact that so many children that depend on educators to ensure they get the education needed/deserve have failed them for their own selfish reasons. It’s such a disgrace.

Hello

February 12th, 2010
12:47 pm

This is exactly what is expected from anything run in Atlanta including the school system, goverenment, police, ect.

sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
12:50 pm

With all due respect to Dr. Hall, when a leader sees the organization is facing a crisis, the leader should cancel thier plans and focus all of their attention and resources to start addressing concerns of their stakeholders immediately. They do whatever it takes – call for a full independent review and engage a third-party to do so, immediately suspend testing activities until procedures and quality can be evaluated and affirmed, immediately notify all affected personnel to anticipate a full investigation, etc. Instead, Dr. Hall sits in a conference in Arizona for the week and weekend. Who coached her on leadership? At the very least, Dr. Hall should PRETEND to be concerned about this outrage.

I think the parents of APS students should band together to call the entire system into question. Unfortunately, the law prevents me from taking my school tax dollars and using them towards private education and it also prevents me from withholding my school tax dollars from a school system with questionable credibility. But it doesn’t prevent me from voicing my opinion to my school board representative and calling for a changes in leadership and organization.

GA Citizen

February 12th, 2010
12:57 pm

Yacks are a disgrace. Every yack caught cheating should be summarily fired, ideally sent to jail although that’s not going to happen. This is just disgusting, and a disgrace.

whoknowz

February 12th, 2010
12:59 pm

Whatever happened to the independent audit Dr. Hall was going to do with Doug Reeves and somebody else doing the research?

Shar

February 12th, 2010
1:01 pm

Sad Dad, if you look at the public schools, whether in APS or elsewhere, that graduate the highest proportion of prepared students, they are typified by engaged, accountable parents and students who arrive at school with the greatest probability of being able to learn. That means they are rested, fed, healthy, have done their homework, engage in activities that do not include a video monitor and are willing to behave in a manner that allows teachers to teach rather than spend far too much time disciplining.

It is often said that education is a three-legged stool, with parents, students and school systems (which would include physical plant, curriculum, teachers and administrators) being necessary to meet with success. We place far too much responsibility on the last group and far too little on the first two.

Public education is an immutable right and is the foundation of our wellbeing as a community and a country. Although it is a universal good, it is not a universal, one-size-fits-all proposition. We spend a great deal of time and money pretending otherwise, and not only is it a monumental waste but it degrades the education we provide. Children whose parents do not provide basic readiness support of the type I listed above need those services, and schools are a logical place to both identify children in need and to deliver those services. However, those activities should not be part of the regular school day. The children who are hungry, ill, tired, chronically late, scared or without academic support at home are also very unlikely to be able to compete with kids who don’t have those issues, and humiliation and frustration are inevitable when they are assumed to be equal and are assessed against each other in a classroom.

The responsibilities of parents in educational success have never been defined or mandated. I believe that, to ‘move the needle’, we need to stop hoping that parents will step up and start requiring certain base support – or provide it in a separate paradigm.

Cobb Parent

February 12th, 2010
1:08 pm

I do find it hard to believe that so many teachers would risk their reputations to cheat for their students, never mind the technical hurdles were they to attempt to do so. In the schools where I live, the tests are sealed as soon as time is up and are immediately sent to the front office. It would seem to me that in a situation where 50% of some schools’ classrooms are getting flagged, there has to be a coordinated effort going on, in terms of determining which answer sheets to make corrections to, which classrooms to target, etc. I am waiting for the results of the forthcoming formal investigations, but really, when you think about all that has to go on for this to work, I can’t imagine the effort would be successful without at the least the tacit approval of higher-ups.

It does really sadden me that the gains that we had thought APS was showing may have just been smoke and mirrors. Although concerned parent, I do have to say that I have friends that live in Buckhead/Morningside/VA Highlands where most of the unaffected schools are located, and I have heard wonderful things about the schools in these areas. I assume your children go to one of these schools. Those schools reportedly do not have a great relationship with the APS central office, which in light of this scandal, is probably not a bad thing.

Maureen Downey

February 12th, 2010
1:09 pm

whoknowz; The Douglas Reeves report is out, but deals with whether instructional practices were likely to lead to improved achievement and does not speak to this testing issue in particular. I will blog on his report soon.
Maureen

booger

February 12th, 2010
1:10 pm

This story is developing into one in which the teachers are victims of mandated testing. Ethics will have no place in the discussion.

It's Not Brain Surgery

February 12th, 2010
1:11 pm

we will continue to have this problem until the CRCT and other tests are used SOLELY to determine the academics progress of students, as opposed to a benchmark to determine the competency/professional performance of teachers. my child attends a APS school and the school sends links to the GA DoE website so that parents (not teachers) can prep children for the CRCT. as if M-F from 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM is to be used for something else. here’s a memo to Beverly Hall and APS, the ENTIRE school year is suppose to “prep” students for the CRCT.

sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
1:12 pm

reply to @ sad APS Dad: yes, I’ve read the book. I have also read the statistical research debunking the book and read other research performed using the same dataset, which is taken from a statistical abstract of the United States, BTW. If you do the research as I have done, you will see the student performance is more closely aligned to family income status more than race. Note, this is not a causal relationship but a correlation and there is a difference between the two terms. Obviously, I don’t let anyone do the thinking for me and go a step further when I find certain topics that interest me.

But to answer your question regarding what will move the needle, by a variety of statistical measures it has been demonstrated the success of the student is largely dependent upon the preparedness and involvement of the parents. The research also shows that intense parental involvement and support can help close (although not completely) the educational performance gap between low-income students and students from wealthier backgrounds. The school system can’t replace parental involvement and engagement. So aside from that we need a rigorous educational system that provides students exposure to a variety of learning styles while emphasizing core skill development (math, reading, science, etc). Students also need different avenues for education such as early vocational training for those students that would make a great carpenter or cosmetologist rather than a lackluster college student. It won’t increase the number of students going to college but it will increase the number of students graduating with the tools to become productive members of society.

Mel

February 12th, 2010
1:13 pm

Some people are commenting on this without any data to back up their statements. For example, there is one school on the “erasures” list that actually did not make their projected targets… So, why would they cheat??? If you cheat, you are supposed to be trying to get better, not worse!! They have made their AYP for the past 5 years and nothing was said.. Remember, the list is dealing with those schools who had a high number of eraser marks on the test… Cheating has not been proven…..

booger

February 12th, 2010
1:14 pm

Teaching to the test. This is a perfect example of blame the test. Teachers are not supposed to cheat period! There is no wiggle room in that concept.

sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
1:15 pm

@ Shar: I couldn’t agree with you more. Engaged, involved parents of any means can do wonders for the development and success of their children.

Eleanor

February 12th, 2010
1:17 pm

Don’t blame the teachers. They aren’t the ones who did the erasing and changing of scores. It starts at the top with Beverly Hall who no more than a moron and liar; the same goes for Crawford Lewis and their principals and administrators did what they were told to do by these morons. In order for education to get back on track in Georgia first Kathy Cox, with her head in the sand, has to go; then you get rid of Hall, Lewis and the rest of the Superintendent’s in on this fiasco; then you get rid of the principals and others who were in on it – NONE OF THEM should ever be allowed in a school or be associated with education ever again. Then you let the teachers teach and forget the tests. You test the kids each week on what they learned that week and at the end of the nine week period you give them a test on everything covered. This is the only way you are going to be able to know who is learning, who is having problems, etc. And rest assured, Crawford Lewis of DeKalb County like Beverly Hall does NOT have the best interests of the students and teachers as their top priority. They don’t even think they have to answer to the parents of these students. Their top priority is INDIVIDUAL GLORY AT ALL COSTS.

Sean

February 12th, 2010
1:18 pm

This should NOT be a surprise to anyone in this state or country. When you make a teacher/administrator’s job, benefits, and bonuses based on their student’s test scores WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT? No Child Left Behind and other programs (like a BONUS to Beverly Hall) that seek to reward teachers (as in, you get to keep your job) for their student’s scores will always make cheating more attractive. When are we going to realize that our education system is a sham… and it accounts for most of why this country has been falling dramatically behind the rest of the world. If you’re a teacher you should get NO BONUSES, EVER, FOR ANY REASON – and you shouldn’t feel that your job is on the line because you’re trying to teach a bunch of idiot kids who were spawned by idiot parents. Do your job – do it to the best of your ability, and if your kids are still failing, well guses what? They’re parents are probably idiots and there’s only so much you can do to work that out of their kids. Sheesh. We gotta stop punishing teachers for doing their job. As a general rule, the people who are popping out the most kids are idiots, so what do you think is gonna happen? People are just getting stupider and there’s only so much the government can do to help the situation. QUIT PUNISHING TEACHERS! AND QUIT MAKING THEIR JOBS AND BENEFITS BASED ON IDIOTIC TEST SCORES!

Dr. John Trotter

February 12th, 2010
1:20 pm

Beverly Hall and her minions obviously do not understand or are just egregiously brazen when it comes to the Law of the Large Numbers. How can national elections be so precisely predicted with a sample as little as 400 likely voters? The Law of the Large Numbers. A school jumping from a score of 18 to 88 in one year? Impossible, unless the school only had about four to six students and an academically gifted family just moved into the neighborhood, and this totally skewed the scores. I think that most of Atlanta’s schools have more than four of five students. C H E A T I N G. B E V E R L Y H A L L O B V I O U S L Y C O N D O N E D C H E A T I N G.

New Idea

February 12th, 2010
1:23 pm

The only way to truly verify the test scores and to preserve the chain of custody of the answer sheets is to have an outside group administer the test. No APS staff allowed to handle the documents and kept under seal until they are graded by the state.

Then you will really see what is going on.

@ sad APS Dad

February 12th, 2010
1:43 pm

“If you do the research as I have done, you will see the student performance is more closely aligned to family income status more than race.”

Then why don’t you see these problems in low-income white districts AND if its just money being the issue WHY is there also an “achievment gap” among affluent African-American students?

http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/7/4/6/8/pages274689/p274689-2.php

atlpinto

February 12th, 2010
1:54 pm

The Gov. now wants to tie teacher bonuses to student test results. You think there is cheating now wait till money gets involved. I’m a teacher and would never cheat, but teachers are human and money changes everything….

Maude

February 12th, 2010
1:58 pm

Why are the teachers blamed? They are given the test booklets and answer sheets each morning and must return them as soon as the test is over. If the teachers changed the scores the students would know. What about the rest of the day and night. School Principal’s have a lot to lose if their school is fails the test. Test papers can be tampered with easier once outsidet the classroom than inside with 20 -30 kids present.

Oh Intown Writer...

February 12th, 2010
2:02 pm

I don’t keep up with “Education” much at all (so i cannot argue about curriculums, etc), but I have been reading the postings for the last three days. For those of you whining that all the teachers and principals should be fired, couple of things:
One, do your minimal homework and read last couple of days’ worth of blog postings: many a teacher has weighed in (and proves you wrong).
Two, look at where the results have fallen: the predominantly white schools seem to be doing just fine, thank you very much (and proves you wrong).
Additionally, there are black principals who made unpleasant names for themselves cleaning house of old-school/old-ways teachers, and some folks who ran for School board posts got ears’ full of vitriol from black parents in southside locations regarding the messes at their schools – you don’t have to be a rocket scientiest to smell s***, but APS knows it can knuckle under that demographic and does so.
And for the first racist nitwit who posted – if you spent any real time in Atlanta dealing with APS and the City, you’d realize how much worse APS is than the City… you got the directional flow wrong.

RickinATL

February 12th, 2010
2:08 pm

Look at this as lucky timing. Bev Hall strong-armed an intransigent incompetent bureaucracy as far as she could push them. No Child Left Behind came along to put intolerable pressure on the teachers –on TOP of the pressure Hall was already applying. Teachers and admins took the only route that could enable them to avoid getting sacked–cheating.

Now the story is out, and it’s time for Phase II: Reform of the Reform.

We need to bring someone in who’s new and fresh and unafraid, and give them the full mandate to clean up the mess. This scandal gives us that mandate. The only problem is, I’m sure Hall won’t have the decency to vacate her office. She owes us her resignation, but I’ll be stunned if she delivers it.

She’ll fight and delay and we’ll lose the moment. Unless parents unite and force the issue. But that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Parent inertia? Isn’t that why so many APS students do poorly? Uninvolved parents?

I’m hoping for a miracle: pressure brought to bear on Hall from some other source that is too much for even her to withstand. Otherwise, we’re in for a long season of rationalizing and spin from 130 Trinity Ave.

catlady

February 12th, 2010
2:11 pm

Ms. Downey, what do the longitudinal data look like? For example,of those 4th graders who did so much better, how did they do as 3rd graders (comparing the same kids from year to year)? Just looking at different cohorts in isolation may not give the true picture.