Can we ever prove who cheated? (Cheats will also lie.) If we can’t, where do we go next in the CRCT probe?

An angry Sonny Perdue talks to press at state board meeting where he announced he is hiring an investigator to look at CRCT cheating in APS and Dougherty schools.

An angry Sonny Perdue talks to press at state board meeting where he announced he is hiring an investigator to look at CRCT cheating in APS and Dougherty schools. (AJC/Phil Skinner)

Here is what the governor said today at the state Board of Education meeting about his decision to bring in a special investigator to probe CRCT cheating at APS and Dougherty County schools.

Please read below for my comments and for some key questions Sonny Perdue did not answer:

In his own words:

As you all know, I typically prefer to speak with you informally and personally. However today, with such a serious matter before us, it is more important for me to be precise so I have chosen to write out my remarks in advance.

It is a sad day.

I want to begin by thanking this Board for caring so much about this issue.  You have all been strong, unwavering proponents of integrity in testing and I know you share my deep disappointment with the results Kathleen just outlined.  To this day, we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of what was revealed in the audit of 2009 CRCT results.

… Making our schools work for children requires everyone working together in the best interests of our students.  Our education system is based on a solemn responsibility we adults have to our children.  It is built on the assumption that the adults involved in education – from superintendents to classroom teachers to elected officials – are there for the right reasons.

That’s why, when the Office of Student Achievement flagged Georgia schools for apparent test alterations, the next step was for systems to conduct internal investigations to determine what had gone wrong.  That course of action demanded a state and local partnership.  OSA provided those systems with the necessary data and outlined the components that would constitute a thorough investigation.

While most districts complied with the charge from this body, both Dougherty County and Atlanta Public Schools responded with internal investigations that were woefully inadequate – both in scope and in depth.  Where the state asked these local systems to cooperate fully to determine what happened during the 2009 administration of the CRCT, their efforts frankly fell short of the target.

In APS, audits flagged 58 schools where test results were widely irregular … where results of an erasure analysis were all but statistically impossible.  In 43 of those 58 schools, the situation was so severe that 25 percent of all classes had wrong-to-right changes exceeding three standard deviations.

Most of us don’t normally deal with statistical concepts such as standard deviations, so let me convert this to something we’re all very familiar with – human height.  The average human stands at 5’10’’, but we of course know that many people are shorter and many are taller.

A person that is 6’6’’ or taller is three standard deviations from that average. Are there people 6’6” and taller? Sure. But we wouldn’t expect to come upon a randomly selected group of people and have all of them stand taller than 6’6”. The test results in these flagged schools would be similar to a college dean touring his campus and finding classroom after classroom filled with the tallest people in the world. While that may be good for the college’s basketball team, it certainly would raise eyebrows as to how these tall people showed up in the same place. It wouldn’t just happen by accident, even with a good recruiting season.

The APS investigation made the error of comparing outliers to outliers in an obvious attempt to reduce the scope of the investigation. They essentially said, “We only need to take a serious look at these twelve most severe schools” – those people who were ten feet tall, while ignoring all the seven and eight-footers.

Looking at the ten-footers wasn’t a bad place to start … where they erred was in not explaining why we had a report showing that everyone in those schools was ten-feet tall and in dismissing dozens of other schools where the concerns are just as serious.  It is clear that children weren’t fully responsible for the test results assigned to their names, in all cases.

Not only was the investigation in APS lacking in both scope and depth, the district’s response to the report completed by the Blue Ribbon Commission has also been unacceptable.  Though they have publicly stated that over 100 educators have been referred to the Professional Standards Commission for ethics violations, the fact is that the district has knowingly sent legitimate complaints for only eight educators with allegations of wrongdoing that can be investigated by the PSC.

They have also made clear that they do not feel they have appropriate evidence at this time to refer all 108 educators recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission.  They have even expressed reluctance to refer some of the twelve principals from the schools where the Blue Ribbon Commission found systemic, institutional cheating.

I want to speak for just a moment on the appropriate role of the PSC. The PSC is not an investigative agency to be used by local school systems to ferret out wrongdoing. Educators are employees of the school district, and the employer is responsible for taking action against those who have done wrong. Once those actions have been taken, the PSC then determines whether those already proven actions merit a stiffer penalty, such as revocation of a teaching certificate.

In Dougherty, 107 elementary classrooms were flagged for results beyond ten standard deviations.  Going back to the height metaphor, this is like finding a random neighborhood where the average man is taller than Yao Ming, the tallest player in the NBA who stands at 7 feet, 6 inches.  In eight schools, between 25 and 77 percent of classrooms were flagged for exceeding three standard deviations on wrong-to-right changes.  This overwhelming statistical data was met with a report of “no wrongdoing” and “no testing violations.”

During the 2010 administration of the CRCT, scores dropped precipitously in the schools where state monitors were present in these two districts, while the state as a whole made gains.

I believe it is now morally incumbent upon you, the State Board of Education, to conduct a student-level comparison from 2009 to 2010 so that we can identify the students who were affected.  This is not about stats and numbers … this is not a math exercise … this is about individual students who are being robbed of their one fair shot at a good education.

I believe all students can learn.  I believe all students can make progress and you have demonstrated that across the state.  But when adults circumvent the process and show achievement gains that are not earned, the student is the one that is cheated.

If the investigations stop where they stand today, these children risk being cheated yet again.  Those students who need remedial help will not get it and they will continue to lack the tools and knowledge needed to be successful in the next grade.  And the adults who participated in the wrongdoing and those who condoned it will remain unidentified.

That is unacceptable and we cannot stand by and allow this to happen.  The oath we take upon being sworn into office is a solemn promise to the children and parents in these districts to make this right.  Georgia law affords the Governor of the State with the authority to investigate in situations like this.  On this basis, I am appointing a Special Investigator to do the hard work that has to be done on behalf of the children in APS and Dougherty County.

This Special Investigator will have full legal authority, including subpoena power, the ability to require sworn testimony on penalty of perjury, and other broad investigatory powers.  I am hopeful and expectant that both Atlanta and Dougherty County schools will cooperate with this investigation so that the investigator appointed will not need to use the full range of powers at his disposal.

This investigation will be both thorough and swift.  It is unfair to any student who has been cheated to let this linger, and it is absolutely unfair to the majority of APS and Dougherty educators who have done absolutely nothing wrong to leave these concerns looming over their systems like dark clouds.

The results of this investigation, whatever they may be, will be brought back to the Board for your consideration and further action, if necessary. If the results warrant, they will also be forwarded to law enforcement for possible criminal prosecution.

… I know you all understand that most educators in this state do what they do because they love children and because they love to see them grow and learn.  I want to speak straight to the honest, hardworking teachers of this state to say the actions of a few do not reflect on you or your fellow teachers.  This is about seeking out a small group of people who have failed to hold up the high ideals most Georgia teachers live by.

And what has happened here has stunted the growing and learning process for thousands of children.  They have been cheated by adults who made it look like they were farther along educationally than they really were.  For those children, we must do everything in our power to rectify this situation.

State Board of Education members, I implore you to take every measure to fulfill our moral commitment to these children.  As I said at the beginning, our education system is built on the assumption that all adults are working for the best interests of our children.  But when some prove otherwise, either through action or inaction, it falls to the rest of us to make it right.  Thank you for your courage and for your dedication to Georgia’s schoolchildren.

Ok, the governor is steaming. He is going to hire someone to go after APS and Dougherty and drill deep into what happened in the 2009 CRCT administration. He is going to give this person subpoena power. He is going to charge people with perjury.

But is he going to get any different results than the systems’ own investigations?

(OK, he will get a little more than Dougherty, which seemed to confine its “internal review” to a quick head count — “Anybody of y’all cheat? No? Ok, we’re done here. Pass the donuts.”)

I still wonder if we’ll ever get to the truth of who changed the answers on the 2009 CRCT answer sheets and how many cases of cheating occurred. I absolutely believe cheating went on in APS and Dougherty. And I believe we would likely find that it has gone on since it became important to the adults in the systems that their students pass.

No one is going to easily admit to cheating. And why would they when they can point to multiple hands touching those CRCT test sheets? We have already learned of many breaks in the so-called chains of command that were supposed to safeguard the transfer of the tests. In some cases, completed tests sat in schools over weekends.

Even if the Perdue investigator goes back and interviews students, how reliable are accounts recorded 18 months after the event? My own kids have taken a variety of tests since then. They would have a hard time recalling what was said to them in April of 2009.

I interviewed John Fremer, the testing expert hired by APS who’s investigated test security worldwide.  “Often, you do all this work and you are very confident that you know where the problem is — you scaled it, you sized it — but you never get that confession. I would love it if that happened, but it doesn’t,” he said.

Unless the investigator threatens lie detector tests, I think most APS and Dougherty County educators will maintain that they know nothing about cheating.

A few questions the governor did not answer today that I think are important:

1. How much is the state willing to spend to investigate two systems?

2. What if the investigator cannot name names? The statistical probabilities tell us someone cheated, but we may not be able to tell who it was. What is the next step?

3. Would this money be better spent on helping the kids whose test results were altered?

80 comments Add your comment

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Brian H

August 18th, 2010
4:13 pm

Does it do the school system justice to reassign twelve principals who were involved in the scandal? Will this not just spread the problems to schools who were not involved?

Aquagirl

August 18th, 2010
4:22 pm

I dunno Maureen—the power to subpoena and put people under oath will help. A gang of crooks is always wondering who’s going to jump ship first and cut a deal for immunity.

Isn’t it heartwarming to read Sam Williams’ memo? And people say African-Americans and Whites can’t work together towards a common goal! Yessiree, corruption overcomes prejudice. (sniff.) How touching.

why not

August 18th, 2010
4:25 pm

Why not throw all the test out all across the state? Can anyone tell who cheated a little bit? The problem is with the system and the test. How much money could be saved by just scraping the test all across the state??????
Add in GHSGT and EOCT. A lot of waisted money. Who is getting all of this testing money?????
Follow the money and find the stink! and the stinkers.

Rickster

August 18th, 2010
4:35 pm

Too bad that Sonny isn’t convening a board/panel to investigate DCSS.

Buckhead Writer

August 18th, 2010
4:51 pm

# 3 is a very good question! I personally think though that everything that can be possibly done has to be done to weed out these rotten, evil teachers/admins who cheated. So what..money is better to help reverse the problem…so let’s continuging paying the @*******s who put the children in the position they are in to fix their younger brothers and sisters who also got screwed??????

SALLYB

August 18th, 2010
4:54 pm

AQUAGIRL..Tell me more about the Sam Williams memo. I guess I slipped out of the loop.

Sonny B. Good

August 18th, 2010
4:54 pm

Go! Go Sonny go, Sonny go!
Go! Go Sonny go, Sonny go!

Sonny be good!

V for Vendetta

August 18th, 2010
4:56 pm

I think why not is right: Since the system is fundamentally flawed, we should be looking at how can start over. This investigation will bring to light some very important topics for conversation, but it will all be for naught if no meaningful changes take place after.

Indy Nile

August 18th, 2010
5:02 pm

Why is it that just because Sam Williams named 12 of the members of the blue ribbon commission, before there was even a blue ribbon commission, do people think there was some sort of “collusion” going on. It’s absurd.

oldtimer

August 18th, 2010
5:02 pm

Good questions here. I think cheating has been going on a long time. I base that only on the surprized faces of former students when they asked a question I was not allowed to answer.

Earl of Ft. Liquordale

August 18th, 2010
5:03 pm

I agree with Sonny B. Good. Those who have been quietly suffering under the affliction of the Hall reign of bureaucratic terror see a light of hope. Heck, all of us down here in the Condo in Lauderdale see a glimmer of hope. Jimmy (not Rev. Jimmy Jack Boubon but Croker) is a Roosevelt High boy. His brothers graduated from Brown High when the family left Cabbagetown for West End. Well, Jimmy and his third wife live down here in the Condo with the Mrs. and me. He’s fired up!

Y’all done got me worked up too! 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. 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 and Fried Oysters! 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.

Simple Answer

August 18th, 2010
5:06 pm

3. Would this money be better spent on helping the kids whose test results were altered?

Yes. It would be far better to ruin only a hundred or so careers than to get to the bottom of who orchestrated the largest cheating scandal in Georgia’s educational history.

double zero eight

August 18th, 2010
5:08 pm

Cheating has gone on throughout the state since the inception of CRCT.
Beleieve it or not, some schools without monitors had the audacity to cheat in 2010. Many educators have been able to fly below the radar and
game the testing for years. Is cheating a little better than cheating a lot? Look at the job description for the state superintendent. Wasn’t it
an accountability for Ms. Cox to monitor test scores to ensure their integrity, and identify improbable or adverse trends? Prior to 2010, the state had no “best practices” for security as it left security up to the individual districts. The “chain of evidence” regarding who handled the tests and when in 2009 is woefully inadequate. The state should ensure that an independent monitor is available in every classroom during future tests. Don’t just throw the stones at the educators. The state bears some responsibility,

@Earl

August 18th, 2010
5:10 pm

Earl, of you are of a religious and compassionate bent, either you or the good Rev. might want to send some of that bourbon up to Alpharetta, because I think someone up there needs it.

On the other hand don’t get in trouble for sending hooch across state lines; just do the compassionate thing and send a case of Depends. I think for some reason, they’ve suddenly run of of stock in Alpharetta.

new descriptor

August 18th, 2010
5:15 pm

I think by now it would be entirely accurate to preface any reference to Beverly Hall with the adjective embattled as in “Embattled APS head Beverly Hall…”

Rev. Jimmy Jack Bourbon

August 18th, 2010
5:21 pm

I remember that scene in “All The President’s Men” when Ben Bradlee (played by Jason Robards) of the Washinton Post gave the go ahead to Woodward (Redford) and Bernstein (Hoffman) to run the story which would implicate the President and virtually the whole intelligence aparatus in the U. S. government of a huge coverup. From that point on, it was over for Nixon and his Haldemans. Perhaps this decision by Sonny signals that Hall and her henchladies are through.

But, what do I know? I am just your loveable pastor, J. J.

P. S. One other thing, with Hall gone, then Sonny’s buddy, Mark Elgart, will not have to pull the accreditation trigger. This, in my humbe opinion, is what the Boys are trying to avoid. They still see the fallout of the political napalm in Clayco. Everything is dead. That Agent Orange stuff is tough on a community. Behind the scenes, I think that Sam Williams and his Boys have already jettisoned Beverly Hall. She was only a caretaker for them anyway. Oh how the might fall. How ’bout a scripture? “Let him [or her] who thinks he [or she] stands, take heed lest he [or she] falls.” Croker and his Boys are about money. That’s why they put up with Hall and her foolishness for so long. But now, your good reverend sees that Beverly Hall is a liability to them.

Earl, how have you and the Mrs. been doing down in Lauderdale? I will be speaking at a Church Fundraiser in Boca on the 26th. Come me, OK?

Evangelist Elvis

August 18th, 2010
5:28 pm

Yeah, I was riding through Alpharetta actually looking for some Depends for an elderly couple who are part of my ministry. (I wanted to see them while I was back in the Atlanta area.) So, I wanted to bear them some gifts (no pun intended). I went by three Publixes and two Krogers. No Depends. They tell that some cat named Mark Elgart bought them all up. Is Depends something that my ministry needs to invest in?

Stone Cold Steve Austin

August 18th, 2010
5:28 pm

Maybe some of Hall’s supporters will refer to John 3:16, but Austin 3:16 says Sonny just kicked APS’s @ss.

Larry Major

August 18th, 2010
5:31 pm

Perdue is flat out lying about the PSC’s responsibility in this investigation. Directly from GOSA’s memo:

“Both OSA and the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) are available as resources to LEAs before, during, and after the investigative process.”

What prevented the BRC from using the PSC during the investigation was the size of their investigation and time constraints imposed by the state.

Yes, the legal authority denied the BRC will make a BIG difference and Perdue knows this. Over 100 names is a target rich environment and if you can’t roll at least a dozen of them, you’re in the wrong line of work.

If Perdue is really concerned about the kids, he will stop his damned political posturing and recognize the fact that the system was working exactly the way it was designed to work. Trashing available information simply to make a political statement is foolish.

Some of that old time religion

August 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

Talking about WWJD? Don’t the Furious Five with their entirely justified righteous anger remind you of Jesus kicking some moneychangers’ hiney?

All hail the Furious Five.

Larry Major is right

August 18th, 2010
5:35 pm

7 members of the blue ribbon panel have business dealings with APS worth MILLIONS of dollars. What POSSIBLE motivation would they have to hide ANYTHING?

Larry Major is right

August 18th, 2010
5:37 pm

Yes, anytime you have an investigation into wrong doing in an organization, it should be done with people who have business ties with leaders of that organization, because they will want to know the truth.

Rumor has it.

August 18th, 2010
5:39 pm

I heard Kroger just lost their accreditation in Fulton County for not having Depends in stock, and Publix has been put on probation for the same reason.

Tell us Kathy

August 18th, 2010
5:43 pm

Wonder what Kathy Augustine is saying about “we expect outliers every year” now? It looks like the public responded by saying “We expect APS to out and out lie every year.”

Fericita

August 18th, 2010
5:51 pm

No, we’ll never find out everyone who cheated, and yes, it’s sad that the investigation will cost money that could be spent on kids. However, without further investigation, the state sends the message that if another cheating scandal arises, all the guilty parties will face is some huffing and puffing.

Sonny is serious about the RTTT money, and I can see Georgia missing out on it because of this scandal. How do we intend to hold teachers accountable for student growth if we can’t even hold teachers and administrators accountable for cheating? How can we even measure student growth if cheating occurs as a matter of course?

Atlanta mom

August 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

I asked this question a long time ago, but never received an answer. If the average number of erasures of wrong to right is 1.87 (a number I find incredibly low, but can’t disagree with as it was a real average and not just based on a sample), how many erasures is 3 standard deviations? Is that 10 erasures out of 40 questions, 30 out of 40, what?

Aquagirl

August 18th, 2010
6:23 pm

@ Sally, there’s a link (and a story) on the front page of the AJC under “course of investigation” and “memo.”

catlady

August 18th, 2010
6:44 pm

Take the money for this investigation from APS and Doughtery schools’ allotment. Easy. It’s called accountability. Also, take the money for remediation from these same monies. Let the school boards explain to their homeowners how their taxes are going up to pay for it. Might bring some accountability to the board members as well.

Will subpoena power help? I sure hope so. A little electric current carefully applied might help.

Karma

August 18th, 2010
6:45 pm

So does this mean something will happen with these 12 being reassigned? It makes me FURIOUS that we peons in APS get furlough days and no raise, but they can afford to keep paying the original principals plus their interim replacements? What’s up with that crap?

At least put them on leave with no pay.

I can’t wait to see BS Hall hitting the road, and I hope they take all that bonus money back from her too.

RobertNAtl

August 18th, 2010
7:01 pm

1. How much is the state willing to spend to investigate two systems? Whatever it takes to conduct a proper investigation of this scandal.

2. What if the investigator cannot name names? The statistical probabilities tell us someone cheated, but we may not be able to tell who it was. What is the next step? A report that states that individuals cannot be identified, but that clearly cheating took place, and recommends dismissal of those responsible in the organization — principal, asst. super, and super.

3. Would this money be better spent on helping the kids whose test results were altered?
It’s not an either/or proposition, and the state has a moral duty to do both.

Larry Major

August 18th, 2010
7:08 pm

@Larry Major is right

Wow, millions? What a big number for someone who doesn’t run a business.

The millions were over three or four years, depending on which article you read.

KPMG does over $30 billion a year.
GE Capitol does over $20 billion a year.
GE Capitol’s parent corporation, General Electric, had a net profit of $33 billion last reporting quarter.

Since you are so smart, please explain to us dummies how a single school superintendent can convince multiple billion dollar corporate conglomerates to risk their credibility by falsifying a very public report.

I was going to suggest you make a list of companies who never dealt with KPMG, but you clearly are incapable of such a request.

Larry Minor

August 18th, 2010
7:14 pm

“Since you are so smart, please explain to us dummies how a single school superintendent can convince multiple billion dollar corporate conglomerates to risk their credibility by falsifying a very public report.”

Companies do it all the time. Enron. Goldman Sachs. Microsoft. Bank of America. BP. All sanctioned by various agencies at one time or another for playing fast and loose with the truth.

And let’s drop the charade that Hall is operating on her own, shall we? Ever hear of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce? Sam Williams name ring a bell?

Larry Minor

August 18th, 2010
7:16 pm

“I was going to suggest you make a list of companies who never dealt with KPMG, but you clearly are incapable of such a request”

I’m pretty sure the ACME Eraser company hasn’t never dealt with KPMG. Word is they had a record breaking year in 2009.

Larry Minor

August 18th, 2010
7:18 pm

@Larry Major is right

Wow, millions? What a big number for someone who doesn’t run a business.

Yep and look what Martha Stewart went to jail for. Something worth pennies on the dollar in the great scheme of her empire. It’s a mindset.

Larry Minor

August 18th, 2010
7:19 pm

Should read ACME Eraser hasn’t ever dealt…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ashley, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Can we ever prove who cheated? (Cheats will also lie.) If we can’t, where do we go next in the CRCT probe? http://bit.ly/dscCqF [...]

Statistically Interested

August 18th, 2010
8:39 pm

@double zero eight – I completely agree. Erasures are an issue, however what do you do to the people who just flat out announce the answers to the kids. Then when you report them, the target is on your back and not theirs. Or the students were crazy. Also don’t fuss as me because I won’t accept the tests until just before testing and want them out of my room immediately after testing concludes. No I don’t need to hold on to the test. Take them back!

2009 did not change 2010 or the summer. Scores dropped the following year because certain powers that be “retired” or “changed systems”. They were no longer there to punch up a “few” needed numbers. It is going to be interesting to see where this leads. Will this stop with the 2009 data or will they attack the 2010 results and testers (summer included) because statistically why would a group of students make mistakes and erase when some teachers simply tell you the answer? What is there to erase? Besides they have much bigger erasers in the office.

Fred

August 18th, 2010
10:03 pm

I say we take all the money found to investigate the cheating and put it in the SCHOOLS so they can educate our children. But then that is too simple a solution. Let’s waste more money on investigating cheating than we do on the actual education of children.

Thank God my child goes to private school. There is a finite amount of cash they steal from me to NOT educate your children. Yet it saddens me that you allow the fraud to continue. I’m not worried about the cash the Gov’t stealls from me to NOT educate your childtren, I’m worried that OUR children are not being educated.

For the simple: as member of society ALL children are MY children. They should be YOUR children too. If you don’t thik of them as such, you should start. A society is judged on how they treat their weakest members, the children and the old folks…………

Fred

August 18th, 2010
10:04 pm

Forgive me for my many fat fingered, weak eyed typo’s………

Really amazed

August 19th, 2010
2:08 am

Maybe Sonny boy and his friends had something to do with this from the beginning. Political figures will do just about anything to look good and show false truths. Think about it, if one person never questioned this, these systems would look like WOW, what an improvement!!! Isn’t this what they were aiming for?????? I’m just saying!!! Maybe?

Kwanza

August 19th, 2010
3:01 am

While I feel that most of the money should go into ensuring that cheating doesn’t happen again (extremely strict chain of command and protocol regarding those test and independent monitors in each classroom as well as independent monitors of the tests from the time they leave the classroom to the time they are sent to be scored…not to mention increasing the number of SES providers for affected students at suspect schools), and not bluffing or politicking (if that’s even a word), part of me feels that someone’s head should roll. Cheaters will not cheat if the fear of cheating is great enough. However, Perdue has already spoken his peace, and now he MUST get to the bottom of it as best he can or he will lose face = probably some unnecessary money spent on something that may neither 1. actually educate the affected students or 2. make some deserving person’s head role. ::sigh::

Also, some teachers probably stoop to the level of cheating because they feel they have no other option. An average teacher without exceptional brilliance and creativity necessary for working something close to miracle may not be willing to put in the needed extra unpaid hours (and actually, most people would not blame them) and may be faced with the extreme pressure to cheat. Maybe we should start equipping all teachers with what they need in terms of resources/monetary incentives so that they can do what they need to do. Especially those who have more of a challenge with their students’ achievement levels.

And another thing. Maybe we should spread the accountability to the parents…just saying…if a parent refuses to get their child FREE SES provided tutoring paid for by NCLB, then some of that blame should be placed on them, and less on the teachers. I say expand education achievement levels to the realm of social services…or make unwilling parents pay a tax for their negligence (and let that money go back into the school that serves their community). Just a thought.

A Question

August 19th, 2010
8:30 am

Were state monitors present at other districts besides APS and Dougherty County?

Children First

August 19th, 2010
8:37 am

….and APS is the school district that spent thousands of dollars, and lots of administrator time, to go after 100 families who were sending their kids to Riverwood instead of an APS school, claiming offenses such as “poaching” or “recruiting” (which were not true), while widespread “cheating” ( a real offense that has been proved) is ignored. Yes, this is a school system that definitely has its priorities right…..I’m willing to bet that of the 30 families of 9th graders in the APS district, who were not permitted by the court decision to attend Riverwood, there are less than five of them who have actually enrolled in an APS school. Many of them have gone back to private school, because they had never attended an APS school in the first place. congratulations, APS, on such an excellent expenditure of your resources for nothing.

What if

August 19th, 2010
8:42 am

Bravo, Kwanza. In both private and public sectors, it has been well documented again and again and again and again – and again – that when ANY measure is used for accountability it WILL be corrupted. When ‘x’ amount of sales are needed to keep one’s job, sales – legitimate and illegitimate – will happen. When police are told to write ‘x’ number of tickets a month, it’ll happen – even if there aren’t enough actual violations. Teachers – and more importantly their administrators, when told to increase pass rates on minimum competency tests, focus on the ‘bubble’ kids – those close to passing – at the expense of those who will pass anyway and those for whom there’s no prayer of passing. With no resources, no training, and no hope of getting sufficient numbers to reach some arbitrary and capricious standard (and from which they will receive no useful educational information whatsoever with which to help these kids), some will give up and cheat. Some of those are no doubt unethical and should be removed from the profession. This tragedy before us may provide the opportunity to remove a few of those. But it would be a far more valuable lesson if we also questioned why and how we do such testing in the first place. Do we have any evidence whatsoever that these tests and the way we use them produce better students? Finland has some of the highest international test scores in the world – they also treat their teachers like valued human beings. What if we tried that instead of “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

V for Vendetta

August 19th, 2010
8:53 am

Kwanza,

Accountability? Responsibility? Words like that won’t have any meaning much longer in a country full of altruists like Fred. Sheesh. Love all children as my own? Please.

Dan

August 19th, 2010
11:10 am

I knew it would happen, comments on they were pressured to cheat because of the testing Ha
This proves testing is necessary to weed out people who take short cuts.
Does anyone think without testing these people will be more likely to work hard? That logic, or more correctly lack of logic defies belief!

Granny Godzilla

August 19th, 2010
11:11 am

The entire problem can be traced back to George Bush.

Warrior Woman

August 19th, 2010
11:20 am

@SALLYB – Look here for the memo. http://www.ajc.com/multimedia/archive/00651/Read_the_Memo_651152a.pdf

A bit suspicious that the Chamber knew exactly the course the “investigation” would take, including the identity of most Blue Ribbon Commission members, before the school board announced the BRC.

Bill from Cobb

August 19th, 2010
11:25 am

They have to cheat. How else are a bunch of union teachers gonna get those black thugs to pass? If you want your kids to get an education send them to private school.