An angry Perdue: APS CRCT probe lacks “both scope and depth,” He orders investigation and threatens criminal penalties to those who refuse to cooperate

A few minutes ago, Gov. Sonny Perdue told the state Board of Education: “It is a sad day: We still have not gotten to the bottom of what was released in the 2009 CRCT results.  Both Dougherty and Atlanta Public Schools responded with internal investigations that were woefully inadequate in both scope and depth.  While the state asked these districts to cooperate fully, their efforts frankly fell way short of the target.”

“This is not about statistics, this is not about numbers. This is about individual students who are being robbed and cheated of their one fair shot at a good education,” said Perdue. “We cannot stand and by and let this happen.”

“I am appointing a special investigator to do the hard work that has to be done on behalf of the children in the Atlanta and Dougherty schools systems,” Perdue said. “This special investigator will have full legal authority including subpoena power, that includes requiring sworn testimony on penalty of perjury…  This  investigation will be thorough and swift.”

Perdue was clearly frustrated and upset over the explanations that APS and Dougherty offered, especially Dougherty, which said it found no evidence of cheating despite statistically impossible wrong to right erasures rates.

The meeting began with a searing critique by Kathleen Mathers of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement of the reports on CRCT cheating submitted to her office by Atlanta Public Schools and Dougherty. She recommended that the state board of education decline the reports, which she said failed to address the incredible rates of wrong to right erasures in their schools.

Mathers blasted APS for interviewing only a handful of employees at the suspect schools. She complained that many employees in the schools refused to cooperate. Even at the 12 schools where APS itself agreed there was widespread cheating, she noted that “half of the people flat out refused to talk, refused to cooperated.”

94 comments Add your comment

Who Jumps Off The APS Boat First....

August 18th, 2010
1:48 pm

Just a matter of time now that the rats will start jumping off the sinking APS ship and seek a deal from prosecution. Now there will be consequences, with a thorough investigation.

Glad I could afford to send my children to Pvt. School

August 18th, 2010
1:55 pm

Hell has just froze over, I agree with Vince Fort.

td

August 18th, 2010
1:55 pm

Sonny finally got some brass.

Dunwoody Mom

August 18th, 2010
2:02 pm

You have to laugh at the fact that APS and Chamber of Commerce though they could get away with their shenanigans.

Bloodbike

August 18th, 2010
2:05 pm

Here we go. This is going to be some really good TV and AJC Blog time coming our way. I’m so happy I live in Fayette County. The 2,400 dollars I pay every month for my home loan, while high, is money well spent! It is about to get hot in the ATL!!

Concerned Citizen of Georgia

August 18th, 2010
2:07 pm

While investigating the 2009 CRCT erasures, it became obvious that non-cheating behavior could result in “statistically impossible wrong to right erasure rates.” For example, if two students in a class of 25 get off track early in one subject of a test, they might have to go back, erase and correct 30+ questions. By this I mean, they put the answer to question 6 in answer spot 5 and continue the pattern. Just two students in a class making many erasures means a teacher cheated?

Dr NO

August 18th, 2010
2:10 pm

LMAO!! Guess Ms Hall wont have as much time to be chomping down twinkies and cupcakes now. She best get all her lies and liars in order.

Let see some jailtime!!

Dunwoody Mom

August 18th, 2010
2:11 pm

I guess DeKalb’s response was acceptable?

Maureen Downey

August 18th, 2010
2:11 pm

@Concerned, Mathers addressed that scenario just now at the state Board. She said it would NOT have been enough to flag a class.
Maureen

Reality

August 18th, 2010
2:12 pm

Everyone “investigates” but nothing is ever done.

Dr NO

August 18th, 2010
2:13 pm

These idiots need to be made an example of. We need to see Hall and her fellow conspirators behind bars and doing some meaningful jailtime.

Teacher, Too

August 18th, 2010
2:13 pm

So where does this leave us with the earlier blog regarding Shirley Franklin and her letter to Arne Duncan? Is she now going to write a second letter, blasting Sonny Perdue for playing politics? This whole scandal could have been avoided escalation if it had initially been handled correctly– a thorough investigation with subpeana power for those conducting the investigation.

Now the public can see the pressure that the superintendents put on principals, and in turn, the ungodly amount of pressure that is put on the teachers…on down to the pressure on the students. Although, nothing is done to the students if they don’t pass the CRCT. They aren’t held back, nor are they forced to go to summer remediation (no money for that). So, ultimately, nothing really changes except for the teachers, who have to endure more paper work, more clip board people to come and check to make sure that they are really teaching, and more cure du jours that don’t address the problems with public education.

Just more money spent to justify the clip board people’s jobs.

On a different topic, but important as well. Class sizes– there is a school ( a middle school that I am aware of), that has 35+ students in class, but not enough teachers because teacher allotments were used to create two “coach” positions. Neither person teaches one single student. How does one justify those teacher allotments when the classes are overcrowded?

WE lost our way

August 18th, 2010
2:18 pm

Let the games begin!!! This will be the hot topic for the next two months. I foresee Ms.Hall and several top Administration personnel leaving APS in the near future.

doh

August 18th, 2010
2:24 pm

Tell me again how you losers up there in Atlanta ruin the rest of the state?

The Responsible Conversant

August 18th, 2010
2:34 pm

Maureen, do you know how many systems across the state commissioned an independent group to investigate their schools following GOSA’s erasure findings?

Glad I could afford to send my children to Pvt. School

August 18th, 2010
2:39 pm

The Responsible Conversant 2:34 pm

I think the problem is that APS did NOT appoint an independent commission.

V for Vendetta

August 18th, 2010
2:40 pm

Though the axe is about to fall, I would be willing to bet that Hall avoids jailtime. Do I think she will resign? Absolutely. Do I think she will get a punishment commensurate with the level of corruption and deception she has shown while at the helm of APS? Not on your life.

As for Shirley Franklin, her comments are ignorant to the point of absurdity. What she is calling for amounts to no less than complete censorship of the media and the destruction–through a complete lack of accountability and oversight–of a major school system. The only thing she stopped short of doing was playing the race card in so many words.

As I said yesterday, socioeconomic disadvantages CAN be overcome by a well run public school system catering to the (real) needs of its students; however, we have yet to see any districts create a diversified path to higher education–including technical schools, community colleges, and state colleges and universities. Gwinnett, for example, likes to pretend that technical students no longer exist.

There are solutions. Unfortunately we will never know them because we are currently drowning in a two-party system that cares only about reelection and career politics, not about the people they supposedly represent.

The General

August 18th, 2010
2:46 pm

Add this white-washed cheating scandal to the recently released falsified graduation rate scandal and Ms. Hall shows herself to be yet another incompetent, lying, corrupt bureaucrat who has obviously risen way above her level of ability and capability. Get rid of her and the cesspool at APS.

I guess APS was tired of the Dekalb School System getting all the negative press lately. What bunch of nincompoops keep electing these yahoos to their respective school boards? The board members are the ones who hire and fire the supers, I guess that says a lot about the quality of the board members, not to mention the voters who put them in office. You reap what you sow.

chillywilly

August 18th, 2010
2:47 pm

Thank you Governor Perdue. Here’s hoping that the Special Investigator looks at EVERYTHING, including the Central Office.

The Responsible Conversant

August 18th, 2010
2:52 pm

Oh, yes, Atlanta’s investigation was independent. It was NOT paid for with public funds. A NATIONAL COMPANY with 15 years’ experience in FORENSIC TESTING ANALYSIS was brought in. Also, KPMG — the auditing firm on the list of firms recommended by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement — served on the investigation team. Also, the 14 members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are independently minded private citizens with exemplary reputations that they would NOT RISK for anyone at Atlanta Public Schools.

An independent investigation it was for sure.

An advocate for public education change & choice

August 18th, 2010
2:52 pm

(sound of popcorn popping and butter melting in the background) This isssue is not about to go national and put APS further under the spot light.

I wonder to myself without Mayor Franklin’s public ovetures to Sec Duncan if Gov Purdue would have been compelled to make such a bold move.

With this investigating team having subpoena power, somebody, somewhere is going to offer up statements that will set the whole matter to bed. Just a matter of time.

Time will tell

August 18th, 2010
2:58 pm

Teachers have to walk a fine line. You are supposed to walk up and down to make sure students are in the right part of the test. A child is not penalized by wrong answers on the CRCT as they are on the SAT and AP exams. There is less chance of getting lost. When we first started high stakes testing a few years ago; they told us we would be accountable for how well students did on their exams. If they did poorly, we would lose our jobs. The pressure was so great, I ended up in the
hospital. Only certain teachers were testing in high school. Others had no pressure. APS kept hiring consultants. Anybody with a PowerPoint and a reference to stats was in making good money. Teachers were treated as if we knew absolutely nothing.

It was a nightmare. Our children were being used like guinea pigs in the name of “pilot” programs. Someone said follow the money…it tells almost all. Taxpayers and parents became secondary to corporate grants in APS. Teachers were no longer being allowed to be innovative and creative in teaching. I am looking at a teaching script now. Can you spell “Zombie”?

Well, only time will tell about APS. Perhaps some good will come out of all of this. Perhaps.

Burroughston Broch

August 18th, 2010
3:08 pm

@V for Vendetta. Give former Mayor Franklin some time and she will play the race card, as she has done before.
This is not going to help her quest for a position with the Obama administration.

Teach

August 18th, 2010
3:19 pm

When I gave the CRCT in my Western Georgia district last year, we had to be watched because of erasures. My students had to be documented if they made erasures. Let me just say that many of my students were very nervous about the state thinking they were cheating. They were scared of making a little mistake because if there were too many erasures someone may think that that they cheated instrad of gaining the right answer. I think that there is something fishy at the top at APS. I think at the school level there may have been pressure from the board to do something about the scores. I think that most of the situations were “cheating” happened are far fetched. Overall, innocent students, teachers, and administrators are being thrown on the fire to save the image of APS. SHAME on the board, the business leaders of Atlanta, and the super of APS. SHAME!!!

Need to Get Real

August 18th, 2010
3:19 pm

I hope everyone who thinks it’s a good idea for the Governor to have this much power over locally elected officials realizes that he also has power over just about every department in government in Georgia. What about checks and balances? What happens when you get a governor you don’t agree with philosophically?

The Responsible Conversant

August 18th, 2010
3:23 pm

I must be caught in the filter?

JOE

August 18th, 2010
3:25 pm

Hall is a thief. All the huge ill-gotten bonuses and accolades she received as a result of false student gains should be returned. Hall needs to go.

Parker

August 18th, 2010
3:28 pm

@Need to Get Real-

Dr. Hall and the Chamber should have thought about checks and balances and local control before they decided to tank what should have been an independent investigation.

The Responsible Conversant

August 18th, 2010
3:29 pm

Oh, yes, Atlanta’s investigation was independent.

The investigation was paid for with private dollars NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS.

A NATIONAL EXPERT IN FORENSIC TESTING, Caveon, was brought in.

A firm on the Governor’s own list of firms to consult — KPMG — was brought in.

The Blue Ribbon Commission was made up of more than a dozen private citizens with EXEMPLARY REPUTATIONS that they would NOT RISK for a single soul in APS.

Shar

August 18th, 2010
3:29 pm

Finally!

Does this mean that Dr. Hall’s plans on how to respond to the cheating scandal will be put on hold until a truthful analysis, with associated recommendations for next steps, can be done?

And Need To Get Real, I think Sonny Perdue is a corrupt, venal nincompoop, but Beverly Hall, LaChandra Burks and the rest of the cabal make him look like a knight in shining armor

Retired from this mess

August 18th, 2010
3:31 pm

Thanks, Gov. Purdue keep up the good work in this investigation. Now check with the New Jersery School System who told Atlanta not to hire Dr. Hall because how she messed up their school system.

Chris

August 18th, 2010
3:44 pm

To: (Ir)Responsible Conversant
You are SERIOUSLY drinking the Kool-aid. I heard a lot of bad things from teachers about how APS was being run, but I held out hope because I thought things in APS were really improving. Now that cheating has been found (and I expect even more WILL be found after the state investigation), there is no reason for Hall and her cronies in APS to NOT get the boot. And she DEFINITELY needs to return that bonus money.

Chris

August 18th, 2010
3:45 pm

Sorry, that should have been scores improving, not things.

say what ?

August 18th, 2010
3:52 pm

Can’t wait to see Jeff Dickerson squirm his way through the Georgia Gang on Sunday. He got his dander up last Sunday trying to defend B. Hall…..wonder if he’ll have the guts to show up this week….or take that welll deserved vacation ? Don;t get me wrong, i think Jeff does a good job on the show but he needs to distance himself from B.Hall ASAP…..

come on now

August 18th, 2010
3:52 pm

@retired

could you plz provide more info, had not heard any about that??

furthermore; Hall should return all bonuses for the past 4 years; any paid bonuses are tainted with bogus test scores.

chillywilly

August 18th, 2010
3:52 pm

Also check with the LA School District & the Chicago School District to see why they were so happy to get rid of APS CFO Chuck Burbridge.

I’d like to dedicate this video to Beverly Hall, Chuck Burbridge, Sam Williams, & the other lying rogues at APS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83gFm2QvxX0

Shar

August 18th, 2010
3:55 pm

Responsible Conversant, the people who made up the BRC were handpicked by the AEF/Metro Chamber, colluded before they were formally assigned as to “how to protect” Dr. Hall (in the words of Sam Williams), had extensive business associations with APS that would be endangered if the status quo were to be changed and conducted the “investigation” in a blatantly biased manner in which key witnesses were not interviewed and those that were had to give their answers in the presence of those who could, and would, fire them. Dr. Hall took the gossamer, tainted results, which were 6 weeks late and only presented under threat from the State, and declared exoneration.

How could you possibly be smart enough to type and still think this is in any way legitimate?

Concerned Citizen of Georgia

August 18th, 2010
4:09 pm

@ Maureen, I believe Mathers “said’ cheating couldn’t be the result of student carelessness in using a bubble sheet. Please show the stats used. It isn’t difficult to see the loopholes.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alan Richard, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: An angry Perdue: APS CRCT probe lacks “both scope and depth,” He orders investigation and threatens criminal penal… http://bit.ly/a7iGQ5 [...]

Vindicated

August 18th, 2010
4:25 pm

I haven’t been a fan of APS since they fired Jerome Harris for forcing teachers to do their jobs. The complaint was he was sneaking around conducting surprise visits to classrooms making sure teachers were on the case. I LOVED THAT TACTIC. Most teachers I know were furious. Soon the board canned him cause they didn’t want to deal with the teachers being upset.

Beverly Hall’s tactics include smoke and mirrors. Get grants from large corporation and groups like the Gates Foundation to try “innovative” programs such as paying teachers and staff for improvements in standardize testing. That game was destined for failure once teachers discovered they can get a bonus and all they have to do is “doctor” the results. Test scores and school dropouts soared as administrators realized they had to “move on” the kids that were not willing to “learn”. That meant some 16,000 kids vanished from the system during one point in the last decade.

For years my wife and I couldn’t understand how an APS school off Cascade Road was racking up great numbers on the CRCT. Being naive we thought there was no way the faculty would dare cheat. Our son’s school full of eager well-to-do-kids in SW Fulton County was doing well and the Cascade school from a poorer community was right on their tales. Now we know the answer.

Fire Hall her staff, the BOE and any teacher and administrator involved in the cheating scandal and graduation rate scandal.

Parents need to demand better. If not, their children are doomed to poor education. Better still put APS under receivership with Fulton County Board of Education. LOL

cityzen

August 18th, 2010
4:27 pm

@concerned If the 2009 wrong to rights were innocent, why did 2010 results collapse in the worst wrong-to-right schools? The correlation between the extent of cheating in 2009 and of increased failing in 2010 was very high. I ran the numbers myself.

Denial is not a helpful response.

Larry Major

August 18th, 2010
4:38 pm

KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers were two of the four firms the GOVERNOR’S Office of Student Achievement suggested for these investigations back in February. Here it is on GOSA letterhead:

http://www.cpoga.org/img/pg_0004.pdf

So, if you think these firms were involved in a cover-up (Heather et al), what you are saying is GOSA is trying to cover up its own report.

The BRC contracted Caveon, a nationally respected test security company I strongly urge everyone not to bad mouth in public.

The BRC did not have power of subpoena as I stated the other day and this limitation is specifically mentioned on page seven of their report. Among choruses “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” they read 50,000 emails, conducted interviews with the willing and STILL managed to identify over 100 individuals for investigation by an authority who had the legal power they lacked. Bluntly, Perdue would have to appoint additional investigators if he deemed this report the best thing since sliced bread, because they already have over 100 super qualified suspects on their plate.

So, what specifically is this man’s problem with the report?

Is he really going to throw away Caveon’s work, dismiss over 100 current charges and start over?

Earl of Ft. Liquordale

August 18th, 2010
4:56 pm

Y’all done got me worked up! The Mrs. will kill me when she see that I’m blogging again! Hats off to Sonny for having the guts to take on this thorny issue! I am calling Rev. Jimmy Jack Bourbon now to see what he’s thinking! I think that justice may finally return to the Atlanta school system. We’ve had a gambling thing going on down here at the Condo. Abe and Eli have been taking the bets. Whoever comes closest to the exact date that Hall announces her retirement will win. Pampano’s tonight for Red Snapper. Tomorrow the Mrs. is dragging me to another one of those darn flea markets in North Palm Beach. I’d rather watch paint dry. But, my juices are flowing again! Finally, a politician with guts! Go, Sonny, go! I remember when we whupped y’all down in Warner Robins. You were the QB. But, you’re a winner today.

Responsible Conversant is right

August 18th, 2010
4:58 pm

“Also, the 14 members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are independently minded private citizens with exemplary reputations that they would NOT RISK for anyone at Atlanta Public Schools.”

You are SO right Responsible Conversant. 7 of the members of the Blue Ribbon Panel had business dealings worth MILLIONS of dollars with APS. Of course they are going to make SURE the people who paid them are held responsible. What POSSIBLE motivation would they have to make a low level employee a scapegoat just to protect Hall and others in central office? It doesn’t make any sense.

Once again, you are so right Responsible Conversant.

Glad I could afford to send my children to Pvt. School

August 18th, 2010
5:16 pm

The Responsible Conversant 2:52 pm

You must be the ONLY person in Atlanta that believes this.

chillywilly

August 18th, 2010
5:30 pm

Can someone provide the names of the businesses that these BRC members represent? I may be able to find out how much business they’ve done with APS.

@chillywilly

August 18th, 2010
5:41 pm

The AJC had an article a bit back about this. They had names and figures and it ran at least into the millions.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

August 18th, 2010
5:42 pm

@ Teacher, Too–great post–hope you come back often!

Just remember, those of you who (along with me) have been very vocal critics of current APS leadership:

When Bev Hall and her inner circle depart, the fate of APS will be left in the hands of a Board that is fractious, embarrassed and panicky. Not a good formula.

Maureen’s prediction that things will get worse before they get better will be borne out. But no amount of ghost-written pablum by outside PR firms will save Hall now; her departure is a certainty. So we’d better start thinking about how to survive the interregnum and find a good new king or queen.

If you don’t know your BOE rep’s email address, get it. Get in their ear. To her credit, our rep, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, has been very gracious about replying to emails. But I plan to annoy her until she cracks. : )

All hail the Furious Five

August 18th, 2010
5:45 pm

Let the Furious Five know their righteous anger is appreciated.

Lawyer

August 18th, 2010
5:52 pm

Despite the need to get to the bottom of this issue, the system must also provide an atmosphere for the school system to move forward. Yes, a special prosecutor or the Attorney General should be summoned and, the superintendent should be fired and in the interim, the 11 principals should be returned to their schools. Taxpayer monies are being wasted to pay for replacement principals and continued pay to displaced principals lounging at the district office. Also, shortly expect SACS to get involved due fraudulent graduation statistics. Dr. Hall continues to dig a deeper hole for herself and her support group. Again, fire Dr. Hall and replace the current Board Chair for the best interest of students. Furthermore, the legislature, should eliminate the APS charter and merge the system with Fulton County. All the students would be better served and the county and city would save lots of money by eliminating duplicate services and resources. Finally, thanks to Yolanda, Board member for her courage and Vincent Forte who was the only politician with “balls” and “backbone” to challenge the establishment, Mayor Reed and the Chamber.