Dr. Hall: Teachers should come forward with evidence of cheating for sake of students

In our hour-long teleconference interview with Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall Thursday, she expressed dismay when AJC reporters told her that teachers in APS said they feared retaliation so did not report their suspicions of cheating. “It’s hard for me to believe that you can be intimidated into lying and cheating,” she said.

In her view, the teachers who stood by and did not report cheating share the responsibility for the disservice done to students. Dr. Hall was disappointed that teachers would say they saw cheating and then do nothing about it, saying, “It’s the same thing, you’re covering up for liars and cheaters.” (She also said that there are few secrets in the infamous teacher lounges and she believes murmurings of cheating would eventually be heard by most staff. Few things, she said, escape the notice of the teacher lounge.)

I also want to point out that there are APS records showing that when the system tried to follow up on some anonymous complaints of cheating, no one at the schools came forward. You can’t have it both both ways: You can’t knock the Atlanta system for not acting when no one was willing to speak up when it did act.

I think the time for silence if over. If teachers or staff have real examples of cheating, they ought to e-mail Dr. Hall today. I don’t think anyone has to fear reprisals at this point.

Here are some of her comments from a larger AJC story today by Heather Vogell and Kristina Torres.

By the way, several of you have suggested that the AJC interview APS teachers. We have been doing so as this excerpt shows:

A former teacher at Atlanta’s Cook Elementary said Friday that no one followed up after she told district officials that other teachers talked about cheating by pointing to answers or hinting at them during the 2007-2008 school year. She declined to be identified because she still works in the field.

Like several other teachers the AJC has interviewed, she said the pressure to make the school appear successful was intense. “I was told very often, ‘If your children do not pass, you won’t be back next year,’ ” she said, adding that she didn’t cheat.

She said she talked about what she’d heard in an exit interview when she left to take a job at a private school.

The year before, a Cook staff member had been warned not to point to wrong answers after a parent complained, records show. But no internal probe into cheating took place in 2008, according to documents provided to the AJC after a request for all such investigations. A spokesman said Friday the district is checking into the matter.

Cook was flagged by the state as a “severe concern” because more than 40 percent of classrooms exhibited suspicious erasures in 2009.

Atlanta investigators have at times struggled to find willing witnesses to talk about complaints, especially those that are anonymous, records show. District teachers have said they are afraid to step forward and report irregularities because they fear retaliation.

Witnesses who feel comfortable talking could prove crucial to the district’s current efforts to determine what happened in some classrooms. Hall said they should come forward.

Yet she said she has no sympathy for those who are afraid to step up. “How can I even have some sympathy for people who have no courage when children are being hurt, and the system is being hurt?” she asked.

“It’s hard for me to believe that you can be intimidated into lying and cheating,” she said. As for witnesses who don’t report wrongdoing, she added, “it’s the same thing, you’re covering up for liars and cheaters.”

96 comments Add your comment

Dr. John Trotter

February 14th, 2010
9:25 am

To the AJC Staff: Happy Valentine’s Day and thanks for exposing the egregious and systematic cheating that is plaguing our public schools in Georgia, especially the school in the Metro Atlanta area (with Atlanta Public Schools being the hub). Thanks to those who have acknowledged that MACE was the first organization to loudly “holler” about the systematic cheating — in articles (see http://www.theteachersadvocate.com), grievances, and pickets.

Beverly Hall wanting teachers to report about witnessing cheating? What satire and irony! That’s like asking African Americans living in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1960s to report to Police Commissioner Bull Conner (or is that “Connor”?) about witnessing evidence of racism in the city of Birmingham. This is ludicrous. Reporting to an outside, impartial tribunal or commission with immunity and protection guaranteed is one thing but reporting anything to the Beverly Hall Administration is something entirely different! Would the chickens in the coop report to the wolf?

Gotta run, folks. Heading to church. Yes, I do go to church. I need to go worst than anyone! I am the chief of sinners!

catlady

February 14th, 2010
9:28 am

Yet another example of how either stupid or out of touch Dr. Hall is. Her quotes are unbelievable regarding being unable to “believe that you can be intimidated into lying and cheating.” It would be funny if it were not so sad. Reminds me of the Dekalb superintendent’s assertations about his “pumping out the premium.”

And her statement about feeling no sympathy for those afraid to report? Classic misdirection. SHE is the one who sets the tone for the system. SHE is the one who was willing to accept unbelieveable “results” and take them to the bank. SHE is the one who knew or should have known–even with an EdD, she should have had enought statistical coursework to understand the results she was seeing. SHE is the one who has continued to deny the findings. Now she is finding it harder to deny them, and she wants to blame those who would have been fired if they revealed their concerns or suspicions.

It is inconceivable that teachers were behind this cheating, given their limited access to the tests and the pervasiveness of the erasures. Teacher cheating would manifest itself with answers that were correct from the start, either by vocal indicators (in the lowest grades) or by pointing or nodding at the correct answers. And teachers might suspect what administrators have done behind closed doors, but would not have the proof Ms. Hall demands. (Ms. Downey, check to see the protocol for how tests are distributed to verify access. Teachers pick up the tests a few minutes before giving the tests, and return the test immediately following the testing period The next day, they start all over again.)

Bottom line: responsibility is HERS.

Lee

February 14th, 2010
9:30 am

Does the APS have an ethics “hotline” where employees, parents, vendors, and other concerned parties can call in and report ethics violations / concerns? If not, they should establish one ASAP.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) fraud manual tells us that perception of detection is the number one deterent of fraudulent behavior and that a hotline reduces the occurances of fraud in an organization by 50%.

Some best practices for a hotline:
1. All calls/emails/mail should go to an independent third party.
2. Provisions should be made so that the concerned party can report ethics violations anonymously.
3. All items should be investigated – no matter how trivial.
4. Violators of the standard of conduct should be dealt with quickly – no exceptions, no cover-ups.

Dr. John Trotter

February 14th, 2010
9:33 am

One more thing…I would be remiss if I did not thank the Sonny Perdue Administration for having the integrity and guts to take on this indidious cheating scandal. Now, if the same administration would simply re-think its position of the fallacy of the All Star Teacher program. This program will do nothing but continue to facilitate and propagate this culture of cheating. It will be a disaster again!

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 14th, 2010
9:39 am

Oh yeah, the *teachers* should step forward. Like, the situation hasn’t been painfully obvious for years. And so, some schmucks step up, are then publicly crucified- along with administrators at their schools- and “Dr.” Beverly Hall gets a bonus, to $500,000. That’s the way she’s trying to play it.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 14th, 2010
9:46 am

“Gotta run, folks. Heading to church. Yes, I do go to church. I need to go worst than anyone! I am the chief of sinners!”

Well, “Dr.” Trotter, at least you told the truth- once. The AJC has been exposing, poking and prodding the Atlanta Public Schools since I’ve been reading it (1981). They exposed the cheating on the standardized tests in 2001. They also exposed MACE for what it was, and is: a bunch of political thugs who seek to fashion school districts in their own image, that is, ruled by fear and intimidation. MACE did not help the situation in Clayton at all, and in fact made it much worse. You certainly should not expect any say in the APS cases, as you have no credibility whatsoever. Getting advice from MACE or Trotter to clean up the APS mess would be like asking Nixon what he’d do about political corruption.

catlady

February 14th, 2010
9:56 am

Has anyone noticed Dr. Hall’s statements follow the recognized pattern:

1) It didn’t happen (denial)
2) they are saying our children cannot achieve (misdirection)
3)if there are cheaters they will be harshly punished (bargaining)
4) it’s someone else’s fault (blaming)

To come:
They are persecuting me because…

Mark my words.

Suggestion to Ms. Downey: check on the procedures and (lack of) safeguards for teachers who report corruption to PSC. We were assured (by a school board employed attorney) that there were no protections to our jobs if we report any possible breaches of professional standards of behavior.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
9:59 am

catlady, I agree that schoolwide cheating would seem to have occurred at the administrator level after reading the tight controls on the delivery and return of test sheets. I also think the confession of the two DeKalb administrators tells us how this is happening at the administration level – quite simply and quickly. (Also, it’s interesting that the pair said they never spoke of what they did, even to each other.)
However, those schools with only a few flagged classrooms may reflect teacher cheating — done under the guise of “helping” kids review their answers.
I think the results of this year’s CRCTs are going to be interesting. I assume that all forms of cheating/helping will disappear. Let’s see if scores statewide dip at all.
Maureen

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
10:02 am

The key word is “evidence”. Hearing some speak of it, is not enough to determine that cheating has taken place. A whistleblower would, more than likely, have to be a participant or direct witness. Accusations in and of themselves will not be enough. Tips could be provided of course, but, proving this will be difficult- unless there is tangible evidence. My concern, is what happens to those classrooms which have been flagged? How will the counties be able to investigate to determine if cheating occurred at the classroom level or administrative level? As teachers rarely have a voice, it could end up being the administrators word against the teacher. If that happens, we know which way the organization will side. Only in the case of Blalock where this applied to a very large majority of 4th grade tests, can teachers challenge any probes. I am just hopeful that teachers are not made scapegoats, as the procedures are so air tight- at least at my school- that it would be impossible to do that without drawing attention from students. A third-party should be hired to address these issues. Perhaps teachers should just wait to allow the State and the Department of Education to complete its investigation and/or sanctions of fraudulent persons before getting involved. The roots of corruption in education run deep in Georgia. I am not so sure that allowing superintendents to investigate personnel in their own districts is a wise approach.

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
10:04 am

Why not just allow impartial representatives from GOSA to conduct these investigations.

ScienceTeacher671

February 14th, 2010
10:05 am

Maureen, I agree that on the whole it’s probably administrators doing the erasing, for reasons you & Catlady discuss, among others. I wish some of the articles were much clearer on that.

Don’t you think it’s possible that the schools with only a few flagged classrooms reflect that the administrators know where the “lowest” students are, or that only a few students are needed to reach AYP, so not every answer sheet needed to be reviewed? I don’t see the teachers “helping” students without some word of that getting out via the kids.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
10:08 am

just browsing, You mention something that we have not really explored and that is whether there is a longtime culture in Georgia of test cheating. For a long time, test results of any kind didn’t matter in accountabilty. I talked to a retired prinicipal who said that rural and urban teachers – most of whom wanted to help their low-income kids feel better about themselves — may have gotten into the habit of “helping” more than they should have. Now, we have shifted to a culture where test results have consequences for not only the students, but the teachers and schools, so these practices, too, now have consequences they did not 20 years ago.
Not sure how we could ever document that, but I do wonder if states with historically under performing schools – where many kids did not leave their communities to go off to UGA or UNC — simply did not take testing that seriously since it wasn’t a a life-shaping force for their students.
Maureen

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
10:10 am

Perhaps Science Teacher 671- they could determine if these occurred in high stakes testing areas and/or grades. If it occurred on a 7th grade test which is not counted, and there are discrepancies withing non critical vs. critical testing areas, one may arrive at a more accurate conclusion. I would like to know if these rates were also evident in these schools on testing in areas other than math/ langugage arts/ or reading. The wider the discrepancy I would suspect the more probable there was cheating.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
10:12 am

ScienceTeacher, I thought about that — targeted cheating by administrators for populations on the edge. I suspect cheating is happening in every variation possible. I also think there are going to be a lot of openings for new principals next year in many places.
Maureen

cheryl

February 14th, 2010
10:12 am

This is very sad and frustrating to read these comments. I know of a school where the principle forced the teacher to give a child a “C” on a when he should have gotten an “F”. I wish we really could put in a Hotline for teachers and parents to anonymously report any wrong doings by the admistration of our public schools.

Seriously??

February 14th, 2010
10:13 am

If Dr. Hall really wants us to believe that teachers would not be quickly ushered to the door she is seriously ill. This goes to show that she really has no grasp of what actually goes on in schools or wants us to beleive that she does not. Mortgage companies, hungry children, spouses, student loan companies and Quick Trip do not want excuses on how and why you chose to fight a battle that you KNOW you cannot win. Teachers telling to the same individuals that need to be told on? Career suicide. These same teachers would be made an example of and virtually paraded in the street. Every teacher has seen or heard of a teacher who did not comply with some sort of shady goings on and was made the example by administrators. Almost every school has a story to tell. In many cases there are several. The school I was in had similar reprimands happen to at least one teacher for 5 straight years. Now, how does one administrator get away with ruining the career of 5 teachers annually. Silence. All of the onlookers, other teachers, KNOW that it could happen to them and therefore their silence is guaranteed. In many cases the teachers who lost jobs are not even working in the field anymore or are suffering financially. Now, who would intentionally do that to themselves. Seeing IS believing.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
10:13 am

just browing, Not enough people in GOSA to handle the investigations. Not enough people in DOE, either, to do the test monitoring this spring. I wonder if they will hire retired teachers to help with the monitoring.
Maureen

catlady

February 14th, 2010
10:15 am

Ms.Downey–remember the CRCT results can be manipulated with different cut score settings. I have little faith in the tests themselves are valid (I think I have said this a lot) but even less that the scores MEAN anything. So if they don’t look much worse, I wouldn’t surmise that there is much meaning in that. It isn’t to the state’s benefit for the results to look worse from year to year. Too much at stake to show that we are “improving.” This is why many teachers just laugh when they see how many students’ scores vastly “improve” from spring to summer retest. Anyone seriously think those scores mean a big improvement in 20 days? And, in fact, the state tacitly agrees with this, as 80%+ (as per AJC expose from about a year ago) of those who fail the tests in the gateway grades are promoted anyway. Apparently it does not measure skills that are really necessary for success.

On the administrators saying they did not discuss the changing of answers as they did it–I think that is classic denial as well. If we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen. Kind of like teenagers don’t prepare for having sex by having birth control in place–if you plan ahead it wasn’t “passion” and “spontaneous”.

the truth

February 14th, 2010
10:16 am

Perhaps someone could explain the recent mass exodus in the OIR department of APS. These were the internal investigators and frankly methinks that some folks did not want the ethical stench permeating from the 8th floor to filter down to them.

Dr. Hall is not bigger than the system and when you get to the payoffs to folks to keep accountablity off of her porch, you will begin to understand the whole sordid corrupt workplace that is APS.

Attentive Parent

February 14th, 2010
10:19 am

This article seems to be shifting the burden of proof away from Beverly Hall and her senior staff to explain how this could have happened. If no APS employees speak out, will that then be used by Hall as proof that this is all just a witch hunt or a misunderstanding?

Being a whistleblower in any occupation is career destroying because the next employer assumes there may also have secrets that are best left alone. That’s why qui tam offers federal whistleblowers a percentage of fraudulent claims. The plaintiffs have to have enough incentive to be compensation for no longer having a career.

What’s the incentive for an APS employee to come forward? Truth, justice and the American Way will not put bread on the table.

The AJC cannot make them whole. You might be able to stop a termination but there will be nothing to make sure promotions will be available.

Alison

February 14th, 2010
10:32 am

Thank you Chris…can’t think of a better way to say it. Beverly Hall must also know the “infamous teacher lounges” are the tell-alls of who’s being persecuted. Let me tell you…get a few years of teaching under your belt and you learn to keep your mouth shut.

It’s impossible to believe that everyone has known for years APS test scores were being screwed with except the superintendent. Amazing!

Nikole Allen

February 14th, 2010
10:37 am

I cannot believe that Dr. Hall is now trying to blame teachers that did not put their careers in jeopardy. There is no reason to believe that she would have personally protected those that did come forward to suggest that her monumental gains were not valid.

APS employee too

February 14th, 2010
10:38 am

They will destroy you for being honest. My principal trashed my reputation and I wrote to Dr. Hall. She did not respond. She did not respond. OIR exonerated him for his shenanigans. Keep digging AJC. OIR records at APS are open to the public. Dr. Hall, cheating on this year’s GHSGT writing test was reported to a principal. Did you do anything? I rest my case. Too late now. Come clean. Tell them who really took those NAEP exams also.

Perspective

February 14th, 2010
10:42 am

@Chris Murphy if any organization has any credibility to talk about cheating, it’s MACE. They’ve been ahead of the curve for years, fearlessly and courageously bringing the issue to light. Compare that to PAGE who still, after all the evidence the AJC has presented this week is still advocating a wait and see attitude, as Political Insider reporter in the AJC.

Also, MACE has been ahead of the curve when it comes to teacher retaliation. Where are PAGE and GAE on this? Guess it’s hard to be ahead of the curve when some of the same administrators who engage in retaliation might very well be members of your own organization.

Finally, if you relied solely on the AJC for the entire Clayton County story, you most likely don’t have the whole story. Not to defend anybody, because practically everybody fell short of their best in that episode, but that also includes the AJC and SACS.

For starters Chris, are you aware that up until the very end of that mess in Clayton, the majority voting bloc was comprised of members of GAE, not MACE? Did you recall reading that in the paper? Were you aware of reports that emails from the Board Chair, also a GAE member, from her state government email address, to numerous school personnel were presented as evidence to SACS as concrete evidence of micromanaging, yet SACS did not include them in the report? Did you happen to see that in your AJC, even though the emails were also placed on several AJC blogs and AJC reporters were made aware of them?

And while you’re thinking about that, if SACS was all about students, and had nothing to do with politics, wouldn’t SACS be opening full blown investigations into the districts that are cheating, and been even more public about it than they were about the actions of some board members engaged in personal and political feuds?

Believe it or not Chris, as good as the AJC’s reporting has been on the cheating scandal, the AJC is not the anointed word of God, and neither is SACS.

Ric30084

February 14th, 2010
10:42 am

As a 34 year education veteran, I’m sure Dr. Hall is right that the students “were overzealously rethinking answers, is to blame for the high number of erased wrong answers. ” (AJC 2/1/4/10)
During the annual testing process I always knew to have extra erasers on hand for the students….LOL)

Disgusted

February 14th, 2010
10:49 am

Funny. Our Superintendent just publically and in print threatened someone with a lawsuit who has posted some very interesting issues concerning goings on in our system. He ignored the questions totally of course and just made the threat and made fun of the poster to attempt to discredit them. I think there is just a level of arrogance with many of the Superintendents in GA. Nothing seems to stick on any of them.

Questions, Questions

February 14th, 2010
10:50 am

Maureen, surely you and others at the AJC have talked to APS teachers in the past. Therefore when Dr. Hall made the statement “It’s hard for me to believe that you can be intimidated into lying and cheating.” did you challenge her on it?

Did you also confront her with the fact that she was being evasive and disingenuous, in that the issue wasn’t about being intimidated into lying and cheating, the issue was about being intimidated into silence?

Also did you happen to point out that she was setting up a classic straw man, for if it’s the administrators who are changing answers, teachers have no direct evidence to report?

Under Fire APS employee

February 14th, 2010
10:52 am

I suspect my job will be terminated soon so here it is. You were sent a detailed letter by me Dr. Hall. You did not respond. You knew about sordid methods and how principals were trashing our reputations for speaking out and telling the truth.

You knew… Stop deceiving these people. You knew. Keep digging AJC. This cover up extends to unqualified administrators, special education manipulation, and much more. I am getting my courage together. I kept all the papers and I have the goods to expose corruption of the worse kind to the core.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
10:55 am

Questions, I think you will find that we questioned her intensely. (There were 12 of us on the call.) The issue will be how well Dr. Hall had a ground-level view of her system, not only of how teachers with complaints were treated but the fundamental issue of whether the gains credited to her reforms are true.
Maureen

Vox

February 14th, 2010
10:58 am

Teachers of Georgia,

Vote for legistlative candidates that will allow for “collective bargaining” for educators.

Get the American Federation of Teachers to come into Georgia public education at this time of monumental governmental educational failure.

Without a real union (not PAGE, not GAE, not xyz), Kathy Cox and the local superintendants will blame you for the cheating and continue to make you all the escapegoats of the nuclear winter of Georgia Education.

These folks who leads us (oversees us in the school plantations) already took their victory laps, earned bonuses, campaign contributions, and made speeches under the admiring gazes of their peers.

An enlightened, fair, and strong unions is what we need…to make this right.

Wake-up!

ScienceTeacher671

February 14th, 2010
11:05 am

“If teachers or staff have real examples of cheating, they ought to e-mail Dr. Hall today. I don’t think anyone has to fear reprisals at this point.”

That’s charmingly naive, but I hardly think that Dr. Hall is going to welcome evidence that her accolades have not been earned — I think such emails, unfortunately, are more likely to give her a heads-up on who she needs to shut up.

@Under fire APS employee

February 14th, 2010
11:13 am

Maybe you should send your letter to Maureen or another AJC staffer. Maureen has already stated for the record that she nor any other AJC staffer will share email addresses, IP addresses or any other identifying information concerning posts on this blog.

I’m am correct in that, right Maureen?

Maybe for the record, the AJC reporters can come on here and reassure the readers that if they wish to contact the reporters directly, off the record, their anonymity will be protected.

Maybe if enough is said off the record, and said on the blogs, some people can be found who are as likely to be subjected to retaliation, such as recent retirees or those who have recently left the profession, who will come forward publicly.

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
11:15 am

Georgia needs to provide more teacher protections for these types of situations, or allow teachers to unionize. The machine is not big enough to handle all of the corruption going on which is why the focus of PSC is so limited. It is time to go back to the drawing board and expand the current ethics bill for the sake of what is right for employees- and not for Race to the Top Funding.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
11:18 am

Underfire, That is true. And many people know that as we are hearing from many teachers.
Maureen

ScienceTeacher671

February 14th, 2010
11:21 am

Maureen, Under Fire and others are correct. Even if you have “tenure” there are ways of retaliating. I suspect there are many teachers out there who will welcome a “safe” place to report what they know.

catlady

February 14th, 2010
11:21 am

Funny how a teacher can be trashed by unattributed complaints, but the PSC has to have the name and blood type of people who allege improprieties to them BEFORE THEY WILL EVEN CONSIDER INVESTIGATING THE COMPLAINT! Stacked deck, anyone?

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
11:31 am

It is interesting how APS has morphed into what it has become. Retired persons from APS speak of how they enjoyed working there when they were teachers. It is so sad to see it has become so desperate and mean-spirited.

v racer

February 14th, 2010
11:35 am

What the GA school system needs is an independent Inspector General.

v racer

February 14th, 2010
11:39 am

Unions? Ho, ho, ho, to do what, protect cheating and incompetent teachers? Our school system is bad enough without that crowd.

Reality check

February 14th, 2010
11:44 am

v racer, look at the states that have collective bargaining for teachers, and look at the states that don’t and compare test scores. It’s not the only reason of course, but it’s part of the equation.

Sure job protections protect some incompetents at times; but they also protect many good teachers from incompetent administrators. Much like the criminal justice system protects the innocent, even as it lets some perps walk. If you don’t trust the educational system to do right by your child, why should your child’s teacher trust the educational system to do right by them?

trying hard to be patient

February 14th, 2010
11:55 am

The state of Georgia needs to STOP using the test results of all children who have IEPs. They are NEVER going to be able to pass this test. NEVER!!!!! They even make these children take summer school and retake the test and they still can’t pass but they promote these kids. Students with IEPs can go to school until they are 21. Now, there are exceptions to testing and that is if the student is consider severe and profound or they have a GAA(Georgia Alternative Assessment). These subgroups are what is making schools not make AYP. Plain and simple! Do not use these results!

Voice of Experience

February 14th, 2010
12:11 pm

Naive is one word for it catlady. I don’t know Dr. Hall so I won’t comment on her statement directly but my experience has been that the honest will pay. I was asked by a higher up to do something I found unethical (I am a school administrator). I declined. shortly thereafter I was threatened with non-renewal of my contract for not having the correct credentials and background for my position (UGA doctorate – go figure). I was told I could apply for any position open – no interviews – I had been with the district for many years. I moved on, found another position in a great system in another part of the state. My boss then gets a call from someone at my original school system’s central office attempting to put me in a bad light with him. I also received hateful anonymous threatening letter from someone at the first system also. A couple of years later I take a position in another good system – day after I am announced in the position my new boss receives phone call from same individual at original system attempting to get them to unhire me basically. When that doesn’t work then these people begin to anonymously attempt to libel and slander me in local newspapers. I finally have to spend a lot of money to hire a lawyer to get this to stop. This is educational politics in Georgia in many cases. I can only imagine what would happen to an actual ‘whistleblower’
Thank god the people I have found myself with since leaving my original system are good, ethical people.

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

Voice of Experience- I am glad you bring up slander. I believe that those with a certain moral compass are able to see through the deceptiveness of these persons. Just because a person makes accusations that are not true, it does not always mean that everyone will believe them. I believe that those administrators with an axe to grind and who operate in this nature will be shown the door very soon as their practices, both directly and indirectly, contribute to the blight on Georgia’s educational system and undermines its ability to compete economically.

Naivety from both sides

February 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

I don’t know who is more naive, Dr Hall (playing naive) or Maureen Downey making statements like…”I think the time for silence if over. If teachers or staff have real examples of cheating, they ought to e-mail Dr. Hall today. I don’t think anyone has to fear reprisals at this point.”
The good teachers are focused on one main objective, their class. Being possibly ostracized by fellow faculty members and administrators (remember those observations that go into your file) would certainly change that.
Until workers are put under oath through an investigation by some agency or grand jury, not many will come forward with incriminating info. Let the deal making begin if this hits the proverbial legal fan though. The guilty rats will be scurrying for cover ratting on each other. Let the good teachers continue with their main focus, the kids in their class.

Voice of Experience

February 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

Just browsing – I agree. Unfortunately the system has been damaged in many ways, especially since the advent of the testing craze. Accountability is needed at the administration levels, from the top down ( I say this as an administrator) much more than at the teacher levels. Until this is done and done correctly we will continue to languish as a state and profession. I am not in favor of a union, but the one thing they do seem to do well elsewhere is keep us (administration) somewhat honest, or at least more cautious in our actions.

RESEARCH PLANNING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (RPA)

February 14th, 2010
1:00 pm

Hey Maureen,
Were you all aware that every school flagged has one common factor…all send their answer documents to the RPA department. Everyone in APS knows that RPA is a central location for all standardized testing materials and procedures housed at the Brewer Building and responsible for the intake and distribution of all testing documents. They are also responsible for calculating and determining the “targets” for every school in the district. “Data Analysis” is supposedly their thing. How is it that they have escaped scrutiny when they are the common factor with all of the schools? You must admit, from outward appearances there is an aroma of unethical behavior floating around, but ALL of these schools? Who polices what happens once the documents leave the testing coordinator’s possession? And teachers want to act like they are so “bullyied” into doing something. Give us a break teachers, you are not exempt, many of you received the bonuses for meeting the targets didn’t you? Let’s investigate how many of you returned the money because you felt “bullyied”! You too are foolish to report anything and think that people do not have a right to face their accusers when you talk about this level of accusation. Maureen, Teachers and Administrators can not control what happens to their school’s answer documents once they are dropped of at the Research Planning and Accountability department. Why don’t you set up a hotline for the dismissed staff that have come and gone from that department for the last five years…I’ll bet they’ll have alot to say about “bullying” and “procedures”.

Been there done that didn't get the t-shirt

February 14th, 2010
1:12 pm

Long story short-used to be a math teacher, 2 years, witnessed a para pro actually doing a CRCT for a 6th grade sped student instead or reading it out loud to him which was the modification. Reported it to my principal and was told that “I’ll look into it.” Brought it up 1 month later and was told that I was a trouble maker. I resigned that very day and have been happy ever since. This cheating scandal is big news now but I believe that it will blow over. Communities get the kind of schools they want and here in Georgia nepotism and the “good old boy” network is what people want.

Maureen Downey

February 14th, 2010
1:17 pm

Been there, What system?
Maureen

just browsing

February 14th, 2010
1:28 pm

@ RPA- What would incentivize them to cheat? How would they select which schools to assist and which to not help? Is there some difference between the schools? I find it much easier to believe that there is a culture of cheating in APS and that personnel- administrators specifically- have more to lose than someone in RPA. This does not extend to all schools, however, some administrators are bold enough to cheat- and as in the real world- some will not. I am certain that working in an administrative capacity is difficult and stressful, and that this does not apply to all schools or all principals. It is just that when this is so widespread, considering that there are similar populations in other districts, who took the test with much lower erasures, it does look suspicisious. Now there is certainly some more information that should be gathered by the GOSA to substantiate their claims as I am not certain there is enough data already for them to make such a call. If there is no dishonesty, then APS will vindicate itself this Spring when CRCT scores are released.
As for those who received monies for making the targets- many may have deserved it considering what they perhaps endured and tolerated during the school year. Bullying in any form is unacceptable. Getting money for making targets does not condone abusive leadership. The assertion that teachers did not return money even though they were bullied tends to parallel the disfunctional thinking of an abuser in an abusive relationship. As for a hotline- that need not be limited to just RPA- why not allow everyone to participate. As for “people facing their accusers”- how many teachers have had that right before being dismissed as a result of adminstrator “perception”- Not many

Sad day for Georgia

February 14th, 2010
1:45 pm

I am a former DeKalb County middle school teacher. I was told by my principal that my student’s grades were “too low” and I needed to do something about it. I responded by saying my students earned their grades, good or bad. I was pressured to adjust my student’s grades the day grades were to be turned in. The only thing I felt I could do was to finish out my school year and leave the district all together.

This current scandal goes so much deeper than just tampering with CRCT tests. We are cheating not only our students, we are cheating ourselves from being competitive in a hyper competitive world.

Q: Not to offer any type of excuse, but is there any correlation between a high number erasures and some cohort groups like ESOL, FRL, or students with disabilities?