Not so fast. National advocate says don’t rush to judgment of APS in CRCT probe

I admire education advocate Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, because she doesn’t mince words. Her responses to the state’s CRCT investigation and her defense of Atlanta Public Schools are examples of her willingness to speak out and battle against the tide.

President of the Education Trust, Kati Haycock urges caution before deeming cheating occurred in APS schools based on unusual erasurse

President of the Education Trust, Kati Haycock urges caution before deeming cheating occurred in APS schools based on unusual test erasures

The Education Trust is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works to close the achievement gap.

Here is Haycock’s response to the CRCT investigation,

By Kati Haycock

I hate cheating. I detest it when students do it. But my blood absolutely boils when educators themselves are the ones fudging the numbers.

Few things are more serious violations of the sacred public trust that we educators hold. Those guilty of cheating should lose their licenses, period. The idea that “No Child Left Behind made them do it” is exactly what it seems:  an excuse, and an unacceptable one at that.

But as I have watched the “Georgia Cheating Scandal” play out in Atlanta and its surrounding school districts, I can’t help but be transported back nearly 30 years to my home school district of Los Angeles, where astoundingly high results on the AP Calculus examination by low-income Latino students at Garfield High School drew similar accusations of cheating. Then, as now, there is a powerful subtext:  “These students can’t possibly be performing this well.”

Those who have seen the powerful film version of this story – “Stand and Deliver” – may remember the devastating effects of those doubts on the children and their teacher, Jaime Escalante.

Sadly, that episode was far from unique. Ten years ago, after a new principal worked with her teachers to completely overhaul instruction at Philadelphia’s Stanton Elementary School, the poor black children who attended that school posted huge gains on the state assessment. District and state officials, though, were aghast. Once again, in their minds, there was no way those kids could possibly have gained that much.

Georgians would be wise to note how each of these two stories ended. In both cases, skeptical officials retested the children under more secure conditions. In both cases, the students did as well, or better, on the retest.

I learned two lessons from these experiences.

First, don’t ever assume that students can’t achieve at high levels because they are poor or black or have limited English skills. We now know unequivocally that – regardless of race, income, or family background – children can learn at high levels when we teach them at high levels. Public schools all across the country prove this to be true every single day.

The second lesson I learned is to pay attention to details, look at all information available, and never rush to judgment.

The report from the state’s testing vendor stated specifically that erasures themselves are not evidence of cheating and that “alternative explanations are possible.” The flagging criterion, the report concluded, “should thus be taken as a stimulus to look for additional evidence and find out what happened in the school” because “this kind of check only addresses the possibility, not the certainty, of teachers or administrators altering the responses of students.”

But that’s not what has happened. Nobody is saying, “Before drawing any conclusions, let’s retest the kids or see results from the next state assessment.” Nobody is saying, “Let’s look at other sources of evidence,” including Atlanta Public Schools’ significant gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress – a voluntary national test administered under highly secure conditions that carries no stakes for the student or the school.

Instead, many are rushing to judgment. As a result, many fine educators in Atlanta have been tried and convicted in the public debate, or exonerated because “they were under such terrible pressure from No Child Left Behind.” Frankly, I don’t know which is worse. Both are sad for children and for the educators who serve them.

Instead, let’s make sure the state test conditions this April are totally secure. And let’s complete the investigation and prosecute to the fullest any educators found to have cheated.

In the meantime, though, let’s also remember that when both our teachers and our children “stand and deliver,” enormous things are possible.


49 comments Add your comment

john konop

February 22nd, 2010
9:42 am

It is scary how they will go to cover up the one size fit all failed Kathy Cox/NCLB failed policy. A smell cover-up and this will hurt, the kids coming out of a school or dropping out with no skill sets for a job.

How can the Kathy Cox/NCLB gang even sleep at night knowing they sold out kids for cash!

john konop

February 22nd, 2010
9:44 am

sorry

It is scary how far they will go to cover up the one size fit all failed Kathy Cox/NCLB failed policy. I smell a cover-up and this will hurt, the kids coming out of a school and or dropping out with no skill sets for a job.

How can the Kathy Cox/NCLB gang even sleep at night knowing they sold out kids for cash!

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 22nd, 2010
9:53 am

A lunch buddy of Beverly Hall, no doubt.

zoe

February 22nd, 2010
10:23 am

If you do research, I think that group of students in LA did cheat. From what I understand the cheating issue arose at Garfield High came about because in the free response part of the exam, the students all had the exact same error. The graders brought it to the attention of the College Board.

EHH

February 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

This was a confirmed case of cheating. Please reference the link below:
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2008/07/11/college-board-cancels-one-schools-ap-scores-after-cheating-scandal.html

Unfortunately, the only rescue is to expose the facts, acknowledge the same and proceed to action. This is clearly hypocritical advocation for what’s wrong!

Ernest

February 22nd, 2010
10:52 am

What I am taking from this response is that we should let the investigation proceed and not declare all parties involved ‘guilty’ before we have all the facts.

EHH

February 22nd, 2010
10:58 am

Ernest,

That was established during the initial release of findings. The “blogs” are just a part of the publics’ opinion.

LAStevie

February 22nd, 2010
11:15 am

EHH (and zoe),
Did you read the news clip you just posted? It says that – as anyone who saw the movie “Stand and Deliver” can tell you – that what Ms. haycock wrote was accurate. That the Garfield High kids were accused of cheating by College Board 30 years ago, they were retested, and all of them PASSED again. The story you posted was about cheating at another high school in another area of California.

LAStevie

February 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

EHH (and zoe), did you actually read the news clip you posted? It says – as anyone who actually saw “Stand and Deliver” will tell you – that what Ms. haycock writes here is accurate. That 30 years ago, students at LA’s Garfield High School were suspected of cheating, that College Board retested them, and that they all PASSED again. The story mentioned this in relation to a more recent accusation of cheating on the AP test at another high school in another district in California.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

If Hall, APS, the BOE, Kathy Cox, APS employees et al, would stop voicing their opinions, then I would do the same.

former APS teacher

February 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

I might be tempted to take Kati Haycock’s note of caution more seriously if both myself and my wife (teachers at APS in the past) didn’t have first-hand knowledge of cheating at local APS schools – admittedly the episodes are anecdotal and involve teachers using codes and other non-verbal cues to feed students correct answers rather than suspicious erasures, but it’s difficult for me not to see a pattern of cheating that stretches back at least a decade if not longer. Obviously the evidence needs to be investigated fully before any conclusions can be drawn, but sometimes where there’s smoke there is fire. And given what in my experience is the lackluster quality and intelligence of the average APS teacher (not to mention the administrators), her reference to Jaimie Escalante is laughable. I feel nothing but relief that some of the ongoing practices at APS are finally coming to light, As far as I’m concerned, nothing but good can come from such scrutiny.

john konop

February 22nd, 2010
11:48 am

LAStevie,

In the movie, they did not have an eraser issue like this. It was merely about high scores. I would think they lady writing the article would be smart enough to know the difference.

teacher/parent

February 22nd, 2010
11:54 am

An investigation will (hopefully) shed more light on the situation. However, has APS actually volunteered or asked to have the kids re-tested? If not, that speaks volumes itself.
The Escalante incident concerned one class in one school, in which case a single teacher can (and did) make a huge impact. Not the case with APS.
Most importantly, please don’t assume that the public thinks that the kids can’t perform because they’re poor and/or minority. The doubt is legitimate because these are students who did NOT perform well in the past. If we were writing these kids off, no one would even be upset about the cheating allegations. We are upset, though, because we know the students can perform, but only if the deficits are recognized and remediated.

did we forget?

February 22nd, 2010
12:11 pm

2 have already plead guilty!!!!!!

did we forget?

February 22nd, 2010
12:12 pm

admin might I add

Southron Man

February 22nd, 2010
12:14 pm

@teacher/parent

“Most importantly, please don’t assume that the public thinks that the kids can’t perform because they’re poor and/or minority.”

Thats a standard liberal tactic; assume/accuse people of bias so they will be ashamed or scared of being called a racist when pointing out the obvious.

catlady

February 22nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Bunch of hokum. This is not a racial or income type thing. No one is saying these kids can’t do it. They are saying they DIDN’T do it. The erasure evidence is so far from the norm, it is statistically impossible. There is no way these kids will be retested, and there is no reason to trust a retest anyway, as scores/tests are easily manipulated. Even comparing their scores this year to last year’s would not help, as the test is not comparable, year to year.

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Haycock, like Arne Duncan, doesn’t know her rear end from deep centerfield. First of all, all of this test mania should cease, and we should go back to the days when teachers developed their own plans (written or unwritten) to match the creative ways that they would employ to reach the hard-to-reach students. These standardized tests have indeed become the false gods of public education (as we have pointed out many times in http://www.theteachersadvocate.com). The standardization of testing and the shameless teaching of the tests are, as Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element, stated on a network program (I can’t remember the program…no, it was on cable on Huckabee last night after the interview with the First Lady about childhood obesity), not unlike gorging young kids with fast food. Our students are indeed malnourished. I have been calling for a cessation of this standardized testing for years. It is a dumbing down of the educational process. Students are not allowed to tap into their “element,” as Sir Ken Robinson rightly points out. Students become very bored with this very narrow and very boring and very homogenized and very shallow form of indoctrination which we have the nerve to call “education.” It is at best nothing but regurgitation. A good step in the right direction would be to STOP THE STANDARDIZED TESTING. Then, systems like Atlanta, DeKalb, Houston, L. A., et al., will not be so tempted to take the path of easiest resistance by cultivating a culture of fear which then enables the nazi-administrators to create the culture of cheating. It would be nice to see Governor Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Board of Education simply say: “Enough is enough. We are going to free up our teachers to teach. After all, they are professionals. We are going to cease all of the educational snoopervision. A loose net will catch anyone not acting professionally. A tight net only suffocates the whole educational establishment.” Wow, it would be nice if they actually said this. There would be celebration in the schools all over the State!
Which of the politicians and/or policy-makers have the nerve to state the obvious? Who will acknowledge that a 800 pound polka-dotted gorilla is sitting in the educational parlor? Who will stand up and say, “The Educational Emperor is naked!”? Will DuBose Porter step forward or will he continue to think that he can beat Roy Barnes and Thurbert Baker by coming up with stupid gimmicks like running his wife for Light Gov? Will David Poythress continue to rely on his “General” status to catapult him to the top in the Democratic Primary? No, these poor political souls will take the traditional route ignominious and easily forgotten defeats. None, I fear, will have the chutzpah to come out of the pack like Joe Frank Harris did in 1982 with is “No Tax Increase” promise. Zell Miller, in 1990, took the Lottery & Hope tack and rode it to victory! Who among the gubernatorial hopefuls with tap into the inordinate frustration in Georgia’s educational family? Educators First, Bureaucrats Last! Slogans like this tap into the ethos of educators who have demonstrated that, en masse, they can swing statewide races, especially with the numerous family members and friends whom they can sway. People have paid been handsome sums to come up with memorable logos and slogans (like the slogan above). This slogan just popped into my head as I was typing this. Who likes bureaucrats? No one. Bureaucrats are despised by people in society, but especially by educators. Yes, “bureaucrats” serves as a “straw man” but a “straw man” which symbolizes what is wrong with government…faceless government workers who have little sympathy for the painful needs which beset the voters.
On the GOP side, there is little doubt that John Oxendine will walk away with the primary nod. He will probably score in the forties, if not barely over the 50% magical mark. If he slips below that mark, he will face Karen Handel in the Republican Runoff. The way the scene looks now. I predict (and I could be wrong, but I don’t miss this often! LOL!) a Roy-Ox match-up in November, with Gwinnett pitting its political prowess against “Marauding Mob of Mableton and Marietta” (as I have often described the good-ole-boy “mafia” of Cobb). The Gwinnettians have not quite demonstrated to me that they have the political moxie to flex their muscles state-wide, but the race will be one of the closest November races that we have had in years. Oxendine would serve himself wisely if he aligned himself with frustrated educators in Georgia and “allowed” ole Roy to suffer as the “author” of many of the problems in education today in Georgia, especially the testing mania and the “blame the teachers first” culture. Roy knows that this is his weakness, and he is doing all that he can now to try to get sympathetic teachers to put their fingers in his Educational Dikes. The Ox should constantly remind educators that Roy is the King of their Educational Problems and Angst.
I don’t know if any of these already-declared candidates really gets it. I offer this “free advice,” hoping that at least one will realize that Georgia’s Educational Community is about to explode and that putting political Band-aids on massive and festering sores will only exhibit the folly of their understanding of what is going on. Zell Miller understood the power of the Educator Vote. After his surprise election, Sonny Perdue began to appreciate it. But, he is no longer running, and he has now proposed an imbecilic “All Star Teachers” program which will only continue to cultivate and facilitate the culture of cheating in our schools. Who among the candidates now is willing to tap into this acute frustration? The first to do it in a full-frontal assault will win this vote. Those who tip toe to it will be resented by educators as Johnny-Come-Latelies. (c) MACE, February 22, 2010.

jim d

February 22nd, 2010
12:41 pm

JUST PASS THEM ON—thats what they are going to do anyway. Use the money and effort that will be wasted on all this silly investigation to actually help some of these kids

Yes, but......

February 22nd, 2010
12:44 pm

We are not only talking about the fact that there were an abnormal amount of erasures. The fact that “wrong” answers were erased and replaced with “correct” answers at an abnormally high rate is the main point that deserves attention whether it was done by administrators, teachers or both.
Kati “Half-Cock” doesn’t address this.

Warrior Woman

February 22nd, 2010
12:51 pm

Kathi Haycock should get the facts before she defends APS. The CRCT cheating issue at APS is completely different than the issues at Garfield High School and Stanton Elementary School. Neither Garfield nor Stanton had reams of suspicious erasures. Both Garfield and Stanton had original results confirmed by retesting. Stanton involved year over year improvements, not massive improvements in the space of a few months by students failing the original test. The evidence of cheating is abundant. APS continues to play ostrich, which is why there is a need for a state investigation.

@Dr. Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
12:54 pm

The paragraph is your friend.

Shar

February 22nd, 2010
12:56 pm

High scores generated by single entities – a dedicated teacher, a new principal – are so unusual that they spawn Hollywood movies. Statistically near-impossible test score increases in 58 schools in a single district are not at all comparable. Haycock’s organization is “dedicated to closing the gap” in racial academic performance, and this opinion piece is an unsupported and illogical attempt to stave off criticism of improbable classroom results.

If only the principals and administrators of these students believed that they could perform at these levels, maybe they’d put more effort into supporting their academic achievement and less time taking a cheating short cut.

Larry

February 22nd, 2010
12:57 pm

The public debate over this issue is indeed disgusting, as is the finger pointing, which makes it all that more important to keep facts straight.

The issue is not student achievement; it’s the statistically improbable number of wrong to right erasures and the even more remote possibility that the majority of these statistical anomalies would occur in one school system.

The report from the state’s testing vendor did *not* specifically state that erasures themselves are not evidence of cheating, because it is evidence. This is why “ADDITIONAL evidence” appears in the line quoted from the report. The report says this is not *proof* of cheating, which is quite different and why allegations based on other than fact should be unvoiced.

There was a time when, along with many folks, I viewed an external audit as undesirable and confrontational, but a very wise man explained the flaw in my logic.

He told me that third party reviews of activities (in my case, financial) don’t just find wrongdoers, but enhance my personal credibility by providing independent verification that my activities are both legal and legitimate. Although the SEC likely has more information (read into this a bit) on my lower intestinal tract than does my physician, I welcome the documentation.

Some educators posting on this blog might consider the logic of a man I was lucky enough to know, ignore baseless allegations and appreciate the fact that this study found the vast majority of educators to be honest.

Attentive Parent

February 22nd, 2010
12:58 pm

Before Ed Trust Kati Haycock was exec VP of the Childrens Defense Fund and before that she was the Affirmative Action Director for all 9 campuses in the U of Cal system.

She has spent her career worrying about the educational needs of poor and minority children- a wonderful calling but she is not exactly mainstream in her views. She came to Georgia to speak last fall to reiterate her support for Georgia’s one diploma for all program.

Last week the Gates Foundation announced that Education Trust would be receiving grant money to help design the new national assessments for Common Core around this one standard for all goal. Anybody know of any one else who recently received a large Gates grant?

Economicwoes

February 22nd, 2010
1:04 pm

Amen Trotter. Do you think Wilbanks cared what he was doing when he imposed his Gateway testing on his teachers? Nah, he was just trying to make a name for himself, and more money for his cohorts.

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
1:08 pm

Maureen: Please forgive some glaring typos. I type too fast sometimes, but, in the future, I will try to read these dissertations more carefully before posting them. Thanks, John. P. S. Rev. Vidalia, Thanks for your compliments. I am sure that your many personalities on this blog are your friends too! LOL! I’ll just stick to using my Christian name.

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
1:14 pm

Economicwoes: I have found in my experiences of dealing with scores and scores of appointed superintendents through the years that they are all cut from the same cloth…most of them (especially the ones from the large school systems) are self-absorbed, selfish, conceited, arrogant, and willing to “sell” their “services” to any school board in the country which will pay them more money. I call them Educational Gypsies or Educational Harlots. The State of Georgia needs to go back to electing superintendents, and the school systems will end up with better people leading the systems. Cockamamie (sp?) programs like Gateway would never get off the ground!

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

Economicwoes: I have found in my experiences of dealing with scores and scores of appointed superintendents through the years that they are all cut from the same cloth…most of them (especially the ones from the large school systems) are self-absorbed, selfish, conceited, arrogant, and willing to “sell” their “services” to any school board in the country which will pay them more money. I call them Educational Gypsies or Educational Harlots. The State of Georgia needs to go back to electing superintendents, and the school systems will end up with better people leading the systems. Cockamamie (sp?) programs like Gateway would never get off the ground! [The filter caught this one...Let's try again!]

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Stop The Standardized Testing Mania!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

[Edited Version]

Haycock, like Arne Duncan, doesn’t know her rear end from deep centerfield. First of all, all of this test mania should cease, and we should go back to the days when teachers developed their own plans (written or unwritten) to match the creative ways that they would employ to reach the hard-to-reach students. These standardized tests have indeed become the false gods of public education (as we have pointed out many times on http://www.theteachersadvocate.com). The standardization of testing and the shameless teaching of the tests are, as Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element, has stated, not unlike gorging young kids with fast food. Our students are indeed malnourished. I have been calling for a cessation of this standardized testing for years. It is a dumbing down of the educational process. Students are not allowed to tap into their “element,” as Sir Ken Robinson rightly points out. Students become very bored with this very narrow and very boring and very homogenized and very shallow form of indoctrination which we have the nerve to call “education.” It is at best nothing but regurgitation. A good step in the right direction would be to STOP THE STANDARDIZED TESTING. Then, systems like Atlanta, DeKalb, Houston, L. A., et al., will not be so tempted to take the path of easiest resistance by cultivating a culture of fear which then enables the nazi-administrators to create the culture of cheating. It would be nice to see Governor Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Board of Education simply say: “Enough is enough. We are going to free up our teachers to teach. After all, they are professionals. We are going to cease all of the educational snoopervision. A loose net will catch anyone not acting professionally. A tight net only suffocates the whole educational establishment.” Wow, it would be nice if they actually said this. There would be celebration in the schools all over the State!

Which of the politicians and/or policy-makers have the nerve to state the obvious? Who will acknowledge that an 800 pound polka-dotted gorilla is sitting in the educational parlor? Who will stand up and say, “The Educational Emperor is naked!”? Will DuBose Porter step forward or will he continue to think that he can beat Roy Barnes and Thurbert Baker by coming up with stupid gimmicks like running his wife for Light Gov? Will David Poythress continue to rely on his “General” status to catapult him to the top in the Democratic Primary? No, these poor political souls will take the traditional route to ignominious and easily forgotten defeats. None, I fear, will have the chutzpah to come out of the pack like Joe Frank Harris did in 1982 with his “No Tax Increase” promise. Zell Miller, in 1990, took the Lottery & Hope tack and rode it to victory! Who among the gubernatorial hopefuls will tap into the inordinate frustration in Georgia’s educational family? Educators First, Bureaucrats Last! Slogans like this tap into the ethos of educators who have demonstrated that, en masse, they can swing statewide races, especially with the numerous family members and friends whom they can sway. I have been paid handsome sums to come up with memorable logos and slogans (like the slogan above) for politicians through the years. This slogan just popped into my head as I was typing this. Who likes bureaucrats? No one. Bureaucrats are despised by people in society, but especially by educators. Yes, the word “bureaucrats” serves as a “straw man” but a “straw man” which symbolizes what is wrong with government…faceless bureaucrats who have little sympathy for the painful needs which beset the voters.

On the GOP side, there is little doubt that John Oxendine will walk away with the primary nod. He will probably score in the forties, if not barely over the 50% magical mark. If he slips below that mark, he will face Karen Handel in the Republican Runoff. The way the scene looks now, I predict (and I could be wrong, but I don’t miss this often! LOL!) a Roy-Ox match-up in November, with Gwinnett pitting its political prowess against the “Marauding Mob of Mableton and Marietta” (as I have often described the good-ole-boy “mafia” of Cobb). The Gwinnettians have not quite demonstrated to me that they have the political moxie to flex their muscles state-wide, but the race will be one of the closest November races that we have had in years. Oxendine would serve himself wisely if he aligned himself with frustrated educators in Georgia and “allowed” ole Roy to suffer as the “author” of many of the problems in education today in Georgia, especially the testing mania and the “blame the teachers first” culture. Roy knows that this is his weakness, and he is doing all that he can now to try to get sympathetic teachers to put their fingers in his Educational Dikes. The Ox should constantly remind educators that Roy is the King of their Educational Problems and Angst.

I don’t know if any of these already-declared candidates really gets it. I offer this “free advice,” hoping that at least one will realize that Georgia’s Educational Community is about to explode and that putting political Band-aids on massive and festering sores will only exhibit the folly of their understanding of what is going on. Zell Miller understood the power of the Educator Vote. After his shocking election, Sonny Perdue began to appreciate it. But, he is no longer running, and he has now proposed an imbecilic “All Star Teachers” program which will only continue to cultivate and facilitate the culture of cheating in our schools. Who among the candidates now is willing to tap into this acute frustration? The first to do so in a full-frontal assault will win this vote. Those who tip toe to it will be resented by educators as Johnny-Come-Latelies. (c) MACE, February 22, 2010.

Attentive Parent

February 22nd, 2010
1:46 pm

Jaime Escalante was willing to describe exactly what instructional techniques he used to obtain success for his Calculus students.

The instructional methods APS says it uses have a poor track record in dealing with at risk kids who may not have the cultural capital kids with college educated parents have when they start school or the financial resources for tutoring. As Project Follow Through and many other studies have shown, explicit instruction of content and modeling of skills has the highest rate of instructional success.

When we ask how the constructivist approach to reading and math could result in such turnarounds in APS, Ms Haycock claims we are saying that poor and minority children cannot succeed.

No- we’re the ones asking where is the evidence that APS has attempted to follow the successful instructional models?

Dr. John Trotter

February 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

Rev. Vidalia,
Thanks for your suggestions about the paragraphs. Now, when I use Word, I do two big spaces which translates better when it is transferred to the AJC blogs. Thanks, buddy.

zoe

February 22nd, 2010
2:31 pm

I am not saying the kids were not smart enough to pass the test, what I am saying is that they did cheat the first time around. The reason there was an issue was because every student in the class had the exact same error on the same question on the free response part of the exam. This was NOT a multiple choice question issue. AP Readers do not know what schools exam booklets come from and in the early 1980s, there weren’t THAT MANY kids taking AP Calc. It happened that the same reader happened to notice the same “weird” error on a few exams. When they were pulled, it turned out the exams were all from the same school and they checked all the exams from the school. Yes, Escalante’s program was a good one, but trust me, kids will cheat on the AP exams if they think they can get away with it. The teacher is usually not involved because teachers are not allowed to proctor AP exams in the subject they teach OR even in the same discipline. For example, the Calc BC teacher can not proctor the Calc AB test.

Wounded Warrior

February 22nd, 2010
3:17 pm

Easy to stop ‘not so’ when you haven’t seen it first hand or know that some kids fail in grades but do so well on the CRCT.

Larry

February 22nd, 2010
3:56 pm

Dr. Trotter,

With all due respect, does anyone think Alvin is self-absorbed, selfish, conceited and arrogant? Come to think of it, maybe that wasn’t a good example.

Seriously, as voters we have a power far beyond electing a superintendent since we elect the superintendents’ bosses.

Much has been said about school boards agreeing with their superintendent’s wishes, but this should be expected. As the highest local elected authority, if a school board determines their superintendent is following a path contrary to their desires, they have not only the authority but the responsibility to replace this person with someone who will do what they want.

Voters’ wisdom, or lack thereof, would be no more evident in electing a school superintendent than electing the school board which fills this position.

If anything requires change, it’s at the state level where board members should be elected and the superintendent hired to implement the will of voters.

As to your opposition to high stakes tests, I couldn’t agree with you more.

Ed Johnson

February 22nd, 2010
4:10 pm

How appalling and disingenuous of Kati Haycock, and any one else, to push the “cheating” matter onto the children (let alone onto teachers) as to the kids being so-called “inner city,” “urban,” of some particular “race,” and such other biased and fearful thinking. The root of the matter has nothing to do with “race” or any other arbitrary or capricious social or economic factor. The root of the matter has everything to do with the autocratic style of leadership and management of the Atlanta Public Schools system and the delayed consequences, or effects, from that autocratic leadership and management.

Did students decide for themselves to adopt the testing strategy of marking answers other than correct answers? Did 95 percent of APS principles decide to fire themselves? Did students plan to each year put 800 of themselves through the prison-style CEP alternative school? Did teachers and principals decide to reward and fire themselves based on targets for test scores? Did school valedictorians and salutatorians tell the superintendent they are the only students worthy of her time? Did APS employees make themselves into “human capital” to be managed as such? Did…, well, you get the picture, a picture that also includes the Bush administration’s NCLB and now the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” competition.

Consequences often said to be “unintended” have the interesting habit of lying low for a while before emerging and circling back with a vengeance to bite the butt of the decision that gave rise to the “unintended” consequences in the first place. What is the adage? “Payback is hell.”

The central manifestation of the “cheating” matter simply is this: data show there is operating within the APS a systemic pervasive behavior from which came extraordinary numbers of wrong-to-right answer changes on the 2009 CRCT. Since they also show that APS stands much alone in this regard, the data beg a wholly independent investigation of APS.

However, in their special called meeting last Thursday (Feb. 18, 2010), the APS board compromised the likelihood that a wholly independent investigation can happen.

Two APS board members, Burks and McDaniel, sit on an Atlanta Education Fund (AEF) committee. The superintendent has involvement with AEF as regards the Gates Foundation. One of the APS board members serving AEF engaged, without full board awareness, AEF to find an independent investigator. This one APS board member also made herself the liaison to AEF’s search for an independent investigator to work constrained by a specific “investigation scope.” The other one of the two APS board members serving AEF successfully got the APS board to vote 5-to-4 to embargo board members from discussing investigation matters until investigation findings come in. (If anyone knows any of this to be otherwise, I stand to be corrected.)

So, again, the APS board and superintendent have already compromised the likelihood that a wholly independent investigation can happen.

In a sense, the APS board and superintendent have make for themselves a sufficiently polished platter on which the Governor may receive heads, should he be so inclined.

(c)2010, Ed Johnson, Atlanta GA
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http://www.atlef.org/pep.html
http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/atlantaps/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=292904

uberVU - social comments

February 22nd, 2010
4:36 pm

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by eahouck: Ed Trust on #GeorgiaCheating: http://tinyurl.com/ygzol6v #edpolicy…

Worked There

February 22nd, 2010
6:48 pm

Kati, you are not listening! There is no “subtext”, There is no “assumption that our children cannot reach high levels”. We know they can, but the teachers are reaching them. Maybe those teachers who have shown, the qualities it takes to manage a classroom to teach, should teach those skills to the other teachers. Kati our children can learn and they do when they have been properly taught. Kati, read my lips, the ADMINISTRATORS CHANGED THE ANSWERS!

BS test failed again

February 22nd, 2010
7:41 pm

What does Haycock, who you can almost guarantee has ties to Hall, offer as a comparison so that we don’t rush to judgment, as if watching this story unfold over a year is a rush to judgment?

One class in one school. One SINGLE class in one SINGLE school. Not FIFTY EIGHT schools; ONE class in ONE school. Then she follows it up with a claim that this happens all the time with another example from TEN YEARS AGO.

That she would bastardize the success of those schools in question THIRTY and TEN years ago isn’t courageous. It’s despicable. Instead of trying to spin the story Haycock, put your money where your mouth is and demand that teachers AND administrators are sent to different schools, and that EVERY school in question turns over the test to DOE officials after testing EACH and EVERY day.

When Haycock makes that call, she’ll be worthy of being considered intellectual honest.

Maureen you have more work ahead

February 22nd, 2010
7:46 pm

Maureen this story begs you to do a follow up with the information Ed Johnson provided in his 4:10 post. As the walls close in, you can count on those caught up in the cheating scandal not engage is even more unethical behavior. The AJC must see this thing through and follow them like a hawk every step of the way.

No better place to start that Ed Johnson’s 4:10post

Get Real Haycock

February 22nd, 2010
8:00 pm

So now they get the white lady to play the race card. What an insult to the African-American students, and their teachers all over this state, who did things the right way and succeeded and exceeded.

She's right you know

February 22nd, 2010
8:06 pm

Hey now, not so fast. Just because someone SAYS Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, doesn’t mean he really landed on the moon.

T-distribution

February 22nd, 2010
8:07 pm

Along with its findings, the OSA stated that “the normal distribution holds only for large classes; for smaller classes the result is approximate”. The entire erasure analysis is based on the Central Limit Theorem that works well with large enough samples; therefore OSA was cautious enough to provide the above warning. What is considered a large enough sample? In statistics that number is 30 or greater. What happens when you have smaller samples, such as a homeroom of 5 to 10 students who were tested on the CRCT. The probability that such a sample is even 3 standard deviations above the mean needs to be adjusted because small samples are not necessarily normally distributed. For small sample sizes, the central limit theorem may give a poor approximation, resulting in confidence intervals that are misleading. Adjustments in computing probabilities for small sample sizes need to be made. Statisticians use instead a more conservative distribution called the T-distribution that uses the sample deviation of the sample instead of that of the population. This has not been done in this erasure analysis. Lots of classrooms that were very small in size during testing could have been unnecessarily flagged. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but only if you have a clue about statistics.

T-distribution

February 22nd, 2010
8:26 pm

On the other hand, you have schools on the “clear” or “minimal” list were that had fewer homerooms flagged, but when you look at the severity of the flag of some of these classrooms, you realize how ridiculous is the fact that these schools will not even be investigated. For instance, if you look at Dekalb’s McNair Middle School, a school that has made AYP for the first time ever last year, there were 3 eighth-grade homerooms that were flagged for math. Yet, the school is in the “minimal” category and will not face scrutiny. One of the homerooms had a large-enough class size for the Central Limit Theorem to be valid (34 students) and 315 answers were changed from wrong to right. The most wrong-to-right changes for a single student was 29, and the class average of WTR erasures was 9.265. The OSA has assigned a numerical value for each flagged classroom to indicate the severity of the flag. This homeroom’s number was unusually high: 21.08. Click on this link to see the details about this particular class: http://www.ajc.com/news/search-georgia-crct-cheating-301564.html?appSession=481225479589456&RecordID=131288&PageID=3&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=1&CPIsortType=&CPIorderBy= . It is a huge difference between being just 3 standards deviations above the average compared to 5, 6,7, or 8 SDs.

T-distribution

February 22nd, 2010
8:33 pm

• On the other hand, you have schools on the “clear” or “minimal” list that had fewer homerooms flagged, but when you look at the severity of the flag of some of these classrooms, you realize how ridiculous is the fact that these schools will not even be investigated. For instance, if you look at Dekalb’s McNair Middle School, a school that has made AYP for the first time ever last year, there were 3 eighth-grade homerooms that were flagged for math. Yet the school is in the “minimal” category and will not face scrutiny. One of the homerooms had a large-enough class size for the Central Limit Theorem to be valid (34 students) and 315 answers were changed from wrong to right. The most wrong-to-right changes for a single student was 29, and the class average of WTR erasures was 9.265. The OSA has assigned a numerical value for each flagged classroom to indicate the severity of the flag. This homeroom’s number was unusually high: 21.08. Click on this link to see the details about this particular class: http://www.ajc.com/news/search-georgia-crct-cheating-301564.html?appSession=481225479589456&RecordID=131288&PageID=3&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=1&CPIsortType=&CPIorderBy= . It is a huge difference between being just 3 standards deviations above the average compared to 6,7, or 8 SDs.

Laurie

February 22nd, 2010
9:26 pm

Useful point, T-Distribution. That’s kind of a story in itself: will there be any inquiry or follow-up at all in these cases? I think there are some good reasons for the state of Georgia looking at things on a school-by-school or district-by-district basis, rather than on a classroom-by-classroom basis (namely, the latter would be micromanaging). But that doesn’t mean the problem of potential cheating in individual classrooms just goes away. The large majority of the people posting on the Get Schooled blogged are absolutely certain that having a classroom wrong-to-right erasure average of 2.7 (which was enough to flag schools) shows that someone cheated on the tests in that class (I’m not so sure, but that’s what people are claiming). If so, then obviously, a classroom with an average wrong-to-right erasure average of 10 means the teacher (or someone) should be fired. Yet will any inquiry occur in the McNair’s schools. One would hope that the McNair administration itself (or the school district) will look into it, even though the state won’t, but I wonder if that will happen?

James

February 23rd, 2010
2:54 pm

Vouchers would be so easy to implement and solve so many problems.

Marjorie Johnson

February 24th, 2010
7:41 am

Everybody is automatically assuming that teachers or administrators changed the answers. Anybody who has ever administered or proctored a session of standardized testing knows that children are told that they are allowed to change their answers. It is in the oral directions that you give at the beginning of the testing session. I gave both the CRCT and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for thirty-five years. It was not unusual at all to have a kid erase and redo many answers. Don’t these districts that are under investigation use proctors in every classroom? There was also a place on the teacher’s guide where you could note anything that needed to be reported. My goodness, we even had to note if a child went to the bathroom- what time he left, and what time he returned. If a kid threw up on his booklet, we had to seal the test booklet up in plastic and send it in along with the others. The proctors had to sign an affidavite stating that the teacher followed the procedures exactly. The proctors had to complete a training class. Those that did cheat just make it harder on everyone! There was a saying when I was growing up- “Cheaters always get caught sooner or later”.

What a Joke

March 1st, 2010
10:27 pm

Give me a break Marjorie. Go read the erasure findings. I too have proctored classes for years. The little darlings usually try hard and do their best. They do go back and look at their answers (sometimes), but do you really think 90% of Parks Middle School’s students not only changed their answers, but changed them from wrong to right more than ten times?????
(I don’t know about the ten times part, I should take my own advice and read the erasure data) – BUT, I do know that it is just not possible.
Is it impossible because these kids are majority African American? No! Is it impossible because they come from economically challenged backgrounds? No!
I don’t care if these kids lived in Buckhead mansions and were whiter than rice with June Cleaver for a mother – It would still be impossible!
Playing the race card is pathetic and it just shows how desperate people like this lady, Beverly Hall, APS administrators, etc. are to distract everyone from what happened. THE ADMINISTRATORS CHEATED.
BEVERLY HALL knew about it and endorsed it.