Testing reviewer in CRCT APS probe: We did state-of-the-art testing analyses

I interviewed the testing expert John Fremer on the phone for an hour a few weeks ago and have shared some of his comments with you here, largely his remarks that the erasure analysis done by the state the snared many APS schools was a first step but that more thorough evaluation and measures ought to be performed before people are indicted for cheating.

His own review led to the same 12 schools that the state deemed the top offenders, but he said he needed more information — some of which the state would not give to him — to make judgments on other schools that the state flagged in APS. When the governor and his staff met with the AJC, I asked Kathleen Mathers of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement about Fremer’s contention that he needed more data and she said the state gave him everything he wanted.

When I asked him about the contention — later voiced by Perdue — that these results were designed from the start to exonerate APS, Fremer told me that there is no reason for his company to fudge results as this is their business and they do it on a global basis so their integrity is crucial

With that background, here is what Fremer wrote in today’s paper:

As students return to school this fall, Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, or GOSA, continue to criticize the work of my company, Caveon Test Security. The governor’s position is misguided with respect to Caveon, but he is calling attention to an ugly reality: Wholesale, organized cheating in some Atlanta public schools occurred and must be addressed. His statements about Caveon, though, do not rest on well-established and scientific cheating detection methods.

The governor’s public statements about our analyses of 2009 statewide Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCT, data ignore that we confirmed GOSA’s conclusion that cheating occurred at some APS schools. Caveon is the leading test security company in the field, with experience examining more than 15 million test instances for the largest, most esteemed test organizations in the world, including 15 state departments of education and the Department of Defense.

The state’s vendor used a “preliminary screening” method of counting wrong-to-right CRCT erasures. Caveon would never recommend that our clients launch full-scale investigations solely on the basis of wrong-to-right erasures. Such an approach flies in the face of industry best practices.

A key concept in our work is helping clients focus on the “worst of the worst.” We also believe that minimizing false accusations is highly desirable. This means every school and class that is investigated shows clear evidence of serious problems.

What the governor seems unwilling to recognize is that many of the Atlanta schools flagged in the original GOSA analysis are almost certainly on the list of “schools of concern” because of factors unrelated to cheating. These factors include common missteps such as students getting off track and making mistakes marking their answer sheets. “Losing your place” on answer sheets occurs on a fairly common basis. The CRCT is no exception, and when a student realizes a miscue, erases the misaligned marks and corrects the answer sheet, wrong-to-right erasures are created.

No credible measurement expert would be satisfied with the original GOSA analyses as a basis for deciding that a teacher or school had serious problems unless the results were very extreme, as was the case with some of the schools flagged by GOSA and confirmed by Caveon’s in-depth follow-up.

To the detriment of our ability to analyze tests to the fullest extent possible, the GOSA provided data only for the 58 schools that had been designated as being “of concern,” not all APS schools. Most importantly, we did not receive student-by-student response data for every question. This omission prevented us from conducting these other cheating analyses:

● Collusion: Which schools and classes had “unusual agreement” among students, far beyond what could reasonably have occurred by chance alone? This is the most basic cheating analysis, one any expert would insist on doing.

● Unusual patterns: Which schools and classes had very odd patterns of student responses, such as missing easy questions and answering hard questions? This outcome is very likely to have been caused by students receiving help before or during an exam as well as tampering with answer sheets or student records after testing.

From Caveon’s perspective, we would very much appreciate discontinuation of uninformed and wrongheaded criticism of the state-of-the-art cheating analyses that we did. Any contention that we jeopardized our personal and professional reputations to please a client has no basis in fact whatsoever.

John Fremer is president and COO of Caveon Testing Security

52 comments Add your comment

Ernest

August 31st, 2010
11:19 am

Interesting! My take away from this is that Caveon asserts it did not have enough data to reach a conclusive decision regarding cheating. I agree that before you consider indicting someone, thorough analysis of the data is needed.

Is there a reason why the requested data was not provided???

Warrior Woman

August 31st, 2010
11:31 am

Is anyone surprised that the company hired to exonerate APS alleges the state was uncooperative?

Mitch

August 31st, 2010
11:43 am

Whoa… Fremer says “Wholesale, organized cheating in some Atlanta public schools occurred and must be addressed.” That seems like a damning indictment. Why does he think if wholesale, organized cheating occurred in APS that only a few schools should be looked at closely? What about the kids in the other 46 schools? Is it ok for the adults to cheat in those schools but not in the “worst of the worst” schools? Puh-leeze Fremer.

LLL

August 31st, 2010
11:54 am

@ Mitch,

Isn’t it the reason Fremer wanted to look at ALL APS school data? To identify those “some schools,” it seems very reasonable that you need to look at all schools.

catlady

August 31st, 2010
11:55 am

Total obfustication. Let’s take a few of his statements:

“data ignore that we confirmed GOSA’s conclusion that cheating occurred at some APS schools. ” They were not to confirm that cheating had occurred. They were to find out HOW the cheating had occurred. In other words, they gave themselves NOT the job they were to do.

“Caveon would never recommend that our clients launch full-scale investigations solely on the basis of wrong-to-right erasures”. The state had ample other evidence (the astronomically higher scores), so the investigations were NOT solely on the erasures.
“A key concept in our work is helping clients focus on the “worst of the worst.” This was not their charge.

“we did not receive student-by-student response data for every question. This omission prevented us from conducting these other cheating analyses” Once again, outside their purview as assigned by the state.

Let’s face it, “experts” or not, the work was botched. All excuses in the world, all attempts to deflect fault onto others, the company did not do what the state said it had to do. Now, is that its fault or the fault of APS for not correctly conveying the charge? As the experts, shouldn’t this company have AT THE TIME brought up any questions or concerns about its responsibility? Or refused to do the work because it could not get the information it wanted? And not make excuses after their work is deemed unacceptable?

Random Thought

August 31st, 2010
11:55 am

These were the questions that many bloggers asked long before Caveon came into the picture to investigate/exonerate APS. Those questions were not answered then and they are still not answered now. If you look at individual test exam answer sheets, you can visually see if a student got off mark because the WTR answers would have shifted he same number of rows. If a student consistently miss easy questions but answer all of the hard questions correctly, then “here’s your sign” that there is cheating. But if a student answers the entire section of easy question correctly and makes some WTR answers on the hard questions, then there is the possibility that the student reviewed the question and came to the right conclusion. Trying to prove cheating without this information is like asking some to find Waldo but providing them with half a picture.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

KPMG, Caveon, etc. I don’t trust them because I believe that they were specifically hired to “exonerate” the school system — not unlike a corporation hiring King & Spalding or Alston & Bird to “investigate” its corporate culture (but ultimately hiring these law firms to “position” the company so that less damage will incur from the outside — or government — spotlight). I am not judging these companies, but they are in business to make money. They make their money in this case from the Atlanta taxpayers.

The Beverly Hall Administration should have conducted a thorough and honest investigation on its own. There are perhaps hundreds of adminstrators within the Atlanta Public Schools who should have the ability to conduct a credible internal investigation. This did not happen. Beveryly Hall was relying on buying a “brand” like KPMG or Caveon to exonerate the school system. This is my opinion, and I am usually well-informed, right? Ha! I am sorry Mr. Fremer but when your corporation (like MACE, for full disclosure — LOL) is paid from a certain source, there is the inevitable tendency to want to satisfy that source.

Alan Judd wrote a very revealing article in Sunday’s AJC (”Silent Treatment Accepted,” August 29, 2010, pp. 1 and 6) on APS’s so-called investigation. (I picked up the early Saturday evening edition in Publix. So, the page numbers of the article may have changed.) The “investigation” was a complete farce and sham. Mr. Judd also discusses the role of Caveon and KPMG.

Mr. Fremer’s article today is, in my opinion, just damage control.

Maureen Downey

August 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

@Ernest, Apparently, Caveon listed some data on its request as “optional,” and now says that it should have never used that word and should have instead said that all data was “required” for its work. I was looking at some e-mail exchanges between the op-ed editor and Dr. Fremer and it seems there was some room for confusion as to what Caveon wanted, but I think it is also true that the state knew that Caveon wanted all school data rather than just the 58.
Maureen
(I have recommended that we ask Dr. Fremer about the disparity in what he said he got and what GOSA said it gave him. And he responded with the “optional” explanation.)

EnoughAlready

August 31st, 2010
12:19 pm

This entire cheating scandal is just a waste of taxpayer money, because nothing is going to come of it. If the state had a smoking gun when cheating was first suspected the state school superintended would have acted sooner. In my opinion, there are only two scenarios that can play out in this situation and that is: (a.) the state will not find anything and do nothing (b.) the state will find insufficient evidence (indict a couple people – to get a not guilty verdict) and that will lead to lawsuits.

I’m willing to bet that this taxpayer funded investigation will come up with – not enough evidence to indict. Perdue is playing you all for chumps.

catlady

August 31st, 2010
12:27 pm

If we’ve got that many APS students who get “off line” on the bubble sheets (remember, the whole state takes these tests and you would have expected them to also have kids who get “off line”) then we need to be investigating WHY kids in APS schools have so much more trouble with the scan-trons than kids at other schools. That “reason” for the erasures is a non-starter, too.

expas teacher

August 31st, 2010
12:34 pm

maureen never did a blog on the “Lite” investigation articles on the AJC by her esteemed colleagues:
http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/lite-investigation-of-atlanta-601986.html

The are damning comments from Mr.Fremer:
Quote” He offered no reasons, however, for the irregularities found in so many Atlanta schools — in the 12 Caveon cited, and beyond.

“It’s kind of puzzling to me why the overall level of wrong-to-right erasures is so great,” Fremer told the radio station. “I don’t have an explanation for that.”

You can never get an objective investigation when you let the your own vendor do the investigation!!
Did anyone think that KPMG and Caveon testing would do a honest investigation to jeopardize millions of dollars in business with APS? Come on people!!!

Doble Zero Eight

August 31st, 2010
12:43 pm

Cheating has likely gone on since the inception of the CRCT. With that being said; were the answer sheets for 2007 and 2008 destroyed? If not, why aren’t they also analyzed? Is there a statute of limitations for
cheating as far as the state is concerned? You might be surprised as to what is ascertained regarding right to wrong answers on a statewide basis prior to 2009!

Doble Zero Eight

August 31st, 2010
1:01 pm

If Kathy Cox had done her job of reviewing testing trends and completing testing analyses prior to 2009, the cheating would have been found earlier. In addition, the state department of education received
numerous tips regarding cheating throughout the state prior to 2009 and did nothing with this information.

Maureen Downey

August 31st, 2010
1:03 pm

@Expas teacher, I didn’t post on that because we had covered most of that information and I had posted my own interview with Fremer three weeks earlier here on the blog where I wrote:

I have to admit to deep concerns over the fact that neither APS nor John Fremer of Caveon Test Security could answer this question for me: Why are APS results on the wrong to right erasure analysis done by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement so different than other districts?

“I wish I knew the answer to that,” Fremer told me. “That kind of thing was a puzzlement. It would be nice if we made made a list next year or year after that and Atlanta did not stand out in any way. But I can’t tell you why.”

An advocate for public education change & choice

August 31st, 2010
1:23 pm

Maureen, After reading the article your carefully crafted blog title is abit misleading. THe following statement doesn’t quite match how you spun it in your title:

“No credible measurement expert would be satisfied with the original GOSA analyses as a basis for deciding that a teacher or school had serious problems unless the results were very extreme, as was the case with some of the schools flagged by GOSA and confirmed by Caveon’s in-depth follow-up.”

@Doble

August 31st, 2010
1:23 pm

Doble, I made that very point early on on this CRCT issue. It could compare student performance from one year to another, the teacher’s class scores in previous years, and whether the same principal was at a given school and whether there was a difference in performance at the school under a different administrator.

expas teacher

August 31st, 2010
1:24 pm

maureen…I understand. No problem.
Just want to let you know that there are people in the trenches that brought up massive organized cheating at APS back in 2005 at the high school level. So Beverly Hall and her cronies cannot say that she never knew of cheating allegations !!!
There is a specific high school in APS that has never made AYP since 2005 when the allegations of cheating were first made in 2005!!! Does that not tell you something maureen? Before 2005 this school was in the “distinguised” category!!

@Doble

August 31st, 2010
1:32 pm

The system is so fundamentally corrupt that the most agregious schools/principals, some of whom now sitting in paid in-house vacation, were likely hand picked to go to certain schools just to “facilitate” improved CRCT scores. They are some of the lower level chumps…the higher level chumps were totally protected and should be sitting there with the lower level chumps.

A mere few probably should not even be there at all…very few…as they were probably blind sided by other plants in the school, if that makes sense to anyone but me.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2010
1:41 pm

“expas teacher”: I believe that school is Mays High School, right? Under the leadership of Tyronne (two Ns) Smith. It could be Douglass High. But, I think that it is Mays High. Both schools have been going down hill for years — under the superintendency of Beverly Hall.

Maureen Downey

August 31st, 2010
1:45 pm

@An advocate. Nothing carefully crafted as I pulled a quick summation line from blog that I thought reflected Dr. Fremer’s overall point. I just asked two colleagues if they thought the headline fit the material, and they did. But I changed it anyway even though I am not quite sure of what the problem was with the original headline.
Maureen

Bruce Kendall

August 31st, 2010
1:47 pm

First, an honest investigation would be nice. Then we would not have to speculate as much.

Second, while trivial, there were only 60 math questions for fifth grade math portion of the CRCT.

See:

‘Lite’ investigation of Atlanta test cheating
By Alan Judd
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In fifth-grade math, for instance, the 15 students in one class made 184 wrong-to-right changes, or more than 12 each on the 70-question test. On average, Georgia fifth-graders made fewer than two such corrections each.

Third, and the worst part of this whole CRCT malfunction is that nobody is talking about how few correct answers, are needed, to “meet standards”.

The following is a cut and paste from a working draft, to a letter to the editor for a local newspaper:

Each year the GADOE publishes new CRCT Scale and Cut scores. The document used here is the “2010 Scale Scores and Cut Scores for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests”.

The minimum percentage of correct answers needed to receive a scaled score of 800, “meeting standards” is as follows.

Forth grade: reading – 50%, English – 52%, math – 58%, Science – 53%, and social studies – 50%.

Sixth grade: reading – 48%, English – 50%, math – 48%, Science – 48%, and social studies – 53%.

Eighth grade: reading – 48%, English – 50%, math – 52%, Science – 53%, and social studies – 53%.

This is the frightening part. It takes so few correct answers to be considered successful.

The minimum percentage of correct answers is also the equivalent to a classroom grade.

I emailed a copy of the 2010 Scale Scores and Cut Scores for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests to Mrs. Maureen Downey.

By the way, I am a Parentariat.

Just Wondering

August 31st, 2010
1:59 pm

According to the ABE resolution, it was decided to have outside firms, recommended by the state to do the investigation so that the public would have greater trust in its findings. Many of you on this blog would have ripped APS to shreds for doing it themselves by claiming cover-up etc. Now when nationally recognized and respected firms make they’re findings, the non-experts try to claim cover-up, obfuscation. No one nationally or internationally that knows anything about cheating on standardized tests is questioning Caveon’s analysis or their approach.

Just wondering if many of you just have it out for Dr. Hall and APS or are really interested in the district getting better? Did cheating occur? Yes. Where did it probably occur? 12 schools and several others that need to be looked at. Just because “GOSA or the Guvna said so” doesn’t make it so. The challenge is what do “we” do next, classes continue and students still need to learn to make it better. How do we do that?

another concerned parent

August 31st, 2010
2:35 pm

Caveon only did the analysis they were contracted to perform by APS. Unfortunately, I think they were probably only after what seemed to be an easy money contract, and now they are mixed up in state politics. The whole point that still seems to be lost was that APS was to perform an investigation based on the statistical analysis by the state, not to perform another erasure analysis themselves. It was APS, not Caveon, that performed an inadequate investigation into the causes of these abnormalities. APS and the AEF seem to be perfectly willing to throw Caveon and KPMG under the bus for the faulty (by design) investigation.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2010
2:43 pm

Just Wondering: Do I have it out for Dr. Hall? I have never met the woman (the Dali Lama’s more accessible). (I hope that I spelled the Dali’s name correctly. Ha!) Well, I did speak before the school board on Hall first public meeting with the school board in Atlanta in the summer of 1999. We spoke briefly afterward. Hall has set up an administration not too unlike the old Politburo of the late Soviet Union. Fear and intimidation just flows from the Taj Mahal on Trinity Avenue and out into all the schools. The system reeks with fear, intimidation, nepotism, cheating, and corruption. Hey everyone: Have we forgotten about the “lost” $75,000,000.00 of E-rate? Where did it go? I know that at least one gentleman went to prison over this. But, this is just symbolic of how corrupt Atlanta is.

Atlanta, like most urban systems (including Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett) fail to adhere to the State Grievance Law for Certified School Employees as outline in OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq. One quick example of one of Atlanta’s many, many violations of this law: The grievance law clearly outlines three levels of hearings (with each appeal being a “de novo” hearing). There are definite time lines (which APS just simply ignores…even in their written local policy about grievances!). The gall and chutzpah that APS has relative to the state statutes is mind-numbing. The three levels of hearings became in the Atlanta Board of Education’s policy four levels — an extra step thrown in there to make sure that a teacher’s grievance never reaches the board of education level.

By the way, Bradley Bryant, our Interim State Superintendent, wrote an opinion for the State Board of Education in the Gill v. Muscogee County case that there “three levels” of hearing in the grievance process. So, there you have it, school board attorney who try to do all that you can to keep me out of representing a teacher before the full school board. I remember the Gill case well because the Hearing Officer in Muscogee County kicked me out of the hearing…because I was eviscerating the stupid actions of the administrator before the full Muscogee County Board of Education. Mr. Gill, the MACE member whom we were representing in the hearing, must have like my “thorough and sifting” cross examination because he reached out and handed me a $1,000.00 check on the way to my car. He said that it was a “tip.” I took it and my colleagues and I drove back to Fayetteville even more merrily.

In the past, I would raise h_ll in Atlanta board meetings about this and other flagrant and egregious violations of the State’s minimum requirements about the grievance law. (I would always sign in to speak and raise h_ll very “orderly.” LOL. I don’t have to get loud. I just expose their violations of the law, even handing the school board members copies of the law.) Going back to the days of Harris, Butts, Canada, Strickland, et al., I was always raising h_ll about this. Finally, I think that someone in APS — perhaps Hall herself — sent the message down to make sure that MACE grievances are processed and to try to resolve the matters before they start climbing the appellate ladder — and before MACE gets on the sidewalks with picket signs!
As long as the teacher is happy with the results, I am happy. But, as a matter of law and principle, APS just ignores the law in general. It, like DeKalb, is a “gangsta school system.” MACE and I have been saying this for years. We have also been saying for years that systematic cheating was rampant, and we were glad that the AJC shed some light on this matter and that Governor Sonny Perdue had the mettle to openly address the matter. Most politicians simply shrink like violets when it comes to addressing controversy, especially if there is an element of race which people can exploit. I think that most of the highly-connected Blue Ribbon Commission members are white, if I am not mistaken. I think that it is racist NOT to address this systematic cheating. All children deserve better than the insults of systematic cheating. It is telling children that you don’t think that they are capable of learning. Dr. Hall, that would be racist, don’t you think? (c) MACE, August 31, 2010).

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2010
2:48 pm

Atlanta Public Schools: Egregious and Flagrant Violators Of The Law!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

Someone recently asked if people just “have it out for Dr. Hall.” Do I have it out for Dr. Hall? I have never met the woman (the Dali Lama’s more accessible). (I hope that I spelled the Dali’s name correctly. Ha!) Well, I did speak before the school board on Hall first public meeting with the school board in Atlanta in the summer of 1999. We spoke briefly afterward. Hall has set up an administration not too unlike the old Politburo of the late Soviet Union. Fear and intimidation just flows from the Taj Mahal on Trinity Avenue and out into all the schools. The system reeks with fear, intimidation, nepotism, cheating, and corruption. Hey everyone: Have we forgotten about the “lost” $75,000,000.00 of E-rate? Where did it go? I know that at least one gentleman went to prison over this. But, this is just symbolic of how corrupt Atlanta is.

Atlanta, like most urban systems (including Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett) fail to adhere to the State Grievance Law for Certified School Employees as outline in OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq. One quick example of one of Atlanta’s many, many violations of this law: The grievance law clearly outlines three levels of hearings (with each appeal being a “de novo” hearing). There are definite time lines (which APS just simply ignores…even in their written local policy about grievances!). The gall and chutzpah that APS has relative to the state statutes is mind-numbing. The three levels of hearings became in the Atlanta Board of Education’s policy four levels — an extra step thrown in there to make sure that a teacher’s grievance never reaches the board of education level.

By the way, Bradley Bryant, our Interim State Superintendent, wrote an opinion for the State Board of Education in the Gill v. Muscogee County case that there “three levels” of hearing in the grievance process. So, there you have it, school board attorney who try to do all that you can to keep me out of representing a teacher before the full school board. I remember the Gill case well because the Hearing Officer in Muscogee County kicked me out of the hearing…because I was eviscerating the stupid actions of the administrator before the full Muscogee County Board of Education. Mr. Gill, the MACE member whom we were representing in the hearing, must have like my “thorough and sifting” cross examination because he reached out and handed me a $1,000.00 check on the way to my car. He said that it was a “tip.” I took it and my colleagues and I drove back to Fayetteville even more merrily.

In the past, I would raise h_ll in Atlanta board meetings about this and other flagrant and egregious violations of the State’s minimum requirements about the grievance law. (I would always sign in to speak and raise h_ll very “orderly.” LOL. I don’t have to get loud. I just expose their violations of the law, even handing the school board members copies of the law.) Going back to the days of Harris, Butts, Canada, Strickland, et al., I was always raising h_ll about this. Finally, I think that someone in APS — perhaps Hall herself — sent the message down to make sure that MACE grievances are processed and to try to resolve the matters before they start climbing the appellate ladder — and before MACE gets on the sidewalks with picket signs!

As long as the teacher is happy with the results, I am happy. But, as a matter of law and principle, APS just ignores the law in general. It, like DeKalb, is a “gangsta school system.” MACE and I have been saying this for years. We have also been saying for years that systematic cheating was rampant, and we were glad that the AJC shed some light on this matter and that Governor Sonny Perdue had the mettle to openly address the matter. Most politicians simply shrink like violets when it comes to addressing controversy, especially if there is an element of race which people can exploit. I think that most of the highly-connected Blue Ribbon Commission members are white, if I am not mistaken. I think that it is racist NOT to address this systematic cheating. All children deserve better than the insults of systematic cheating. It is telling children that you don’t think that they are capable of learning. Dr. Hall, that would be racist, don’t you think? (c) MACE, August 31, 2010).

TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta

August 31st, 2010
2:57 pm

APS-A False Path of Success without Honesty and Integrity

Will someone finally unravel the real problems within Atlanta Public Schools?

I believe APS RETALIATION against any individual attempting to file a grievance and report wrong doing by their superiors in Atlanta Public Schools is the REAL PROBLEM.

Current investigations need to include former APS employees attempting to use the APS Office of Internal Resolutions. They are the scapegoats in this horse and pony show. Allegations of cheating on standardized tests do not expose the other areas APS officials have so disgracefully “cheated”. The intimidation tactics APS uses in their fake investigations and retaliatory grievance processes have set the ground work for Beverly Hall’s current headache.

Is Governor Perdue’s creation of a state investigation yet another “mock investigation” that covers up the unethical conduct of APS teachers, principals, and administrators for misused funds, falsification of records, and hidden segregation?

The State Professional Standards Commission has been given past reports of unethical APS conduct that have been rightfully reported and later expunged on the basis of “who knows who” in the underground railroad of the Northside Good Ole Boy System. Their ongoing scam can only be compared to the brainwashed, blind eyed minds of Hitler’s Regime.

SOMEBODY with ethics needs to look at the video recorded depositions along with sworn testimonies in a 2004 federal lawsuit. The testimonies of teachers and administrators in this case exposed APS officials and a Northside Principal for falsifying payroll documents, attendance documents, the segregation of minority students, and the misrepresentation of documents to qualify a school for a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award…it’s all recorded in the testimonies of Civil Action File No. 1:03-CV-03178-JOF.

APS officials participated in a relentless campaign of retaliation against teachers at a Northside Elementary School willing to step up to the corruption they observed by filing APS grievances. Ironically, APS documents clearly stated they would protect those involved in requesting internal investigations.

APS has an ongoing history of retaliation against anyone that would question any of their procedures. Ask any former Atlanta Public School Employee. FORMER…because current APS employees know all too well they will lose their jobs if they speak up.

The 2004 depositions clearly demonstrate proof that the same State Rules of Ethics for APS administrators on the Southside of city… do not apply to the APS adminstrators on the Northside of Atlanta.

APS OFFICIALS AND THE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS COMMISSION ignored reports and the video taped depositions that proved the following acts were committed by a Northside APS principal:

* Payroll records to obtain a paycheck for the principal’s daughter for almost a year.
* Falsified attendance records of faculty and students.
* Retaliation against teachers willing to report and testify against APS
* Falsified information to obtain a Blue Ribbon School Award.
* Segregation of minority students in Northside Atlanta Public Schools
* Falsified criteria and dates for Bonus Paychecks paid to faculty members.

Considering that this particular Northside APS elementary website states that their PTA could ” run Washington, DC “, it is no wonder the connected neighborhood can keep their powerful strong arm when negotiating unethical conduct of their principals to Atlanta Public School officials.

Should the Southside not enjoy the same benefit of corruption?

Beverly Hall, Kathy Augustine, and the APS comptroller will need the higher tax base and prominence of the Northside’s privileged to save their current positions. These APS high-ranking officials have been covering up the Northside secrets in exchange for political favors for years.

The malicious acts of this Northside principal were ignored by APS and PSC officials when there was clearly evidence that deserved their attention.

Will these acts of cheating on standardized tests receive an equal blind eye?

My hope is that finally, the truth will emerge so the Professional Standards Commission and Atlanta Public School Grievance Procedures provide a safety net for any one wishing to report wrong doing within the school’s system.

My fear is that the entire system…from Sonny Perdue’s State Office of Investigations, the Professional Standards Commission, and the Office of Internal Resolutions within APS will continue with their selective witch hunts to the detriment of the “success” of our education system.

In Beverly Hall’s own words she states, ” Could you cheat in all these schools?” adding, “You would have to spend your whole life cheating…It’s been nine years of consistent progress.”

History has proven Hall’s similar LEADERSHIP tactics of FEAR, INTIMIDATION AND RETALIATION. Will the governor peel back the layers that expose this corruption? Or will he fall in line with the Third Reich?

Hide and watch.

Old School/Catholic School

August 31st, 2010
2:58 pm

It’s time to bring in CSI, to examine the eraser rubble and fingerprints on those cards. Also, setup rewards within the system to bring out the truth, because all this cheating did not happen spontaneously or coincidentally. They got the idea at some meeting, or the idea was spread in the teacher lounges. This must be handled as the CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION that it deserves to be.

Really?

August 31st, 2010
3:09 pm

Here’s what I find suspicious: if Caveon didn’t have what they needed to do a thorough analysis, why did they wait until they were roundly critized to say so? I’m highly suspicious of the timing of this claim.

Jefferson Jackson

August 31st, 2010
3:17 pm

Eschew obfuscation, that’s my rule.

drew (former teacher)

August 31st, 2010
4:13 pm

The fact that a company like “Caveon” even exists, says all that needs to be said about the testing craze in this country. The most powerful entities involved in education today may just be the testing companies, and the companies like “Caveon” that they’ve spawned.

bart

August 31st, 2010
4:15 pm

As a retired educator, I can tell you the CRCT’s are a complete waste of time and money. We need to be giving our kids a nationally standardized test so we can compare how they are doing with kids in the rest of the country.

You Asked

August 31st, 2010
4:21 pm

What was the name of that company again? CYAeon?

chillywilly

August 31st, 2010
4:22 pm

@2:57 PM,

I agree with you 100 %. OIR is a joke & should be shut down. OIR was presented with OVERWHELMING evidence of wrong doing by Finance Managers. They turned the investigation over to Penn Payne who swept it under the rug and then nailed the rug to the floor. OIR was also presented with OVERWHELMING evidence where Finance Managers falsified their time & attendance. Again, Penn Payne swept it under the rug. If we have to hand deliver our evidence to the State’s Attorney General, GBI or Fulton County DA, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

It is quite clear to us that the Chamber of Commerce controls APS Finance Division & the IT Department. All you have to do is look at the most recent managerial hires. Why do we need a CFO, a Deputy CFO, and a Comptroller? And then to add insult to injury, the Comptroller hires an Accounting Manager off of the streets, who doesn’t have an Accounting Degree and gives her a $99,000.00 salary. There are other Managers & Directors in Finance who have more experience and education that makes less than this Accounting Manager. I guess they pay her to run around the office in flip flops & Dockers and snitch on other employees.

It’s past time for an Extreme Makeover of APS Central Office. Let’s run these gangstas out of the building once and for all and “take our school system back”, NOW!!!

Awful, Awful, Awful

August 31st, 2010
4:31 pm

Well DUH, what would you expect him to say? Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire and there’s a lot of smoking going on in the APS. I still submit that the APS should be split into two systems…….SAPS, the schools on the southside of Atlanta (that’s where all the cheating is happening and it’s dragging the whole system down) and NAPS, those schools on the northside of Atlanta. It doesn’t matter what is done, you’ll never be able to change the culture of the southside Atlanta Schools because obviously……..”Most of the parents don’t give a damn”.

Doris M

August 31st, 2010
4:43 pm

@chillywilly

You are so bold and honest! Do you not fear for your job? You know the Hall administration retaliates. Better be careful and cover yourself where you can.

shipissinking

August 31st, 2010
5:06 pm

Speaking of HS and AYP, what about the HS that never made AYP until a certain Principal took over, made it a few years straight then after a APS cheating investigation, has not made it since.

chillywilly

August 31st, 2010
5:12 pm

@Doris M,

No, I do not fear for my job. I use to, but these crooks don’t scare me. Recently, one of my coworkers eavesdropped on my telephone conversation and ran and told the manager what “they overheard me say”. The manager mentioned it to somebody else and that “somebody else” came back and told me everything the manager said. lol. They don’t realize how well connected I am around this place. I’m watching them while they watch me. lol.

TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta

August 31st, 2010
5:37 pm

Awful, Awful, Awful—
The Northside is the problem…They are keeping Ms. Hall propped up so they get what they want on the Northside.They use the Southside problems as the smoke and mirrors to cover up and candy coat the real issues. Southside administration would never get away with what the Northside administrators are capable of doing.Northside principals have the connected parent base to buy their way out of any scandal. They are currently trying to help Ms. Hall now. Besides the fact that Northside schools have more of a loss if test scores in their elite neighbor school districts fall below the average. They have much more to cover up on the Northside…Garden Hills Elementary is the Northsides dump for minority children that do not fit the Northside’s mold. Beverly Hall’s administrators turn a blind eye to the Northside segregation so that the Northside schools can keep their neighborhood schools pure of under achieving students. PARENTS on the NORTHSIDE CREATED THIS SEGREGATION…UNDER THE DISGUISE of meeting the individual needs of these children.
Ask any parent of special needs children on the Northside of Atlanta. They go through hell and back to get their children appropriate services and often times are told to apply to local private schools in the neighborhood if they want any quality of instruction for their child. You are not informed enough to speak about what goes on in a Northside school. You would need to have held a position in a northside school for at least 10 years to know what is going on. Again…I challenge you to educate yourself…the real problems are the political payoffs for those with connections to go to the Northside schools. Ask the Northside principal about the position given to a judge’s grandmother so his child can attend the school out of district. Talk about a wasted position…she’s asleep. But then again…does it really matter??? The children she is assigned to help are the neighbor low achievers. Remember: They are trying to filter out special needs children to the private schools. The less legitimate services they provide to these children…the more they can convince the parents that the neighborhood public school is just not able to provide what their special child needs. KEEPING THESE CHILDREN OUT…KEEPS THE LOW TEST SCORES OUT…AND PROPERTY VALUES ON THE NORTHSIDE OF ATLANTA UP!

catlady

August 31st, 2010
5:42 pm

Just Wondering: REPUTABLE firms are proactive. If they had concerns about the information that was available, they had a duty to either 1) back out of the analysis or 2) air their grievances loudly and publicly to either force the state Therefore, their claims of foul now that they are under critical examination are (ahem) suspect.

If this company is at the top of the food chain in this kind of research, they could have done that. However, for some reason, it seems like they did a kind of analysis that did not meet the objective stated by the state. These “reasons” they are giving are too little, too late.

I think many systems were EXTREMELY SURPRISED AND HORRIFIED to find out there was an erasure analysis in the works.

I will say it again, I have been giving the CRCT ever since it was given the first time. In those years, I can tell you it is rather rare for a child to erase and answer more than once or twice. And to erase it for the correct answer…well, I suspect statistically that is improbable.

catlady

August 31st, 2010
5:50 pm

Lost post about 5:45

TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta

August 31st, 2010
6:01 pm

WELL cHILLYwHILLY—STAY SILENT AND IN THAT POSITION…don’t let them know who you are…filter that information http://www.toppublicschoolcorruptionatlanta.com
I will make sure it gets to the right whistleblower.
If they figure you out…you will not have a job…and you will not be able to blow the whistle.
See information on how to be a whistleblower at Government Accountability Project

Every year, thousands of Americans witness wrongdoing on the job. These workers discover waste, fraud, abuse or malfeasance that could jeopardize the lives of others, or well-being of the public. They may see food processing plants sending contaminated and dangerous meat to consumers, nuclear facilities in gross violations of safety protocols, a chemical company dump hazardous waste into rivers unlawfully, or accounting fraud that deceives thousands of stockholders.

Most employees remain silent, typically out of fear of losing their positions. Others choose to risk their professional (and personal) well-being and come forward with the truth. They seek to make a difference by “blowing the whistle” on unethical conduct in the workplace.

Our composite definition of whistleblower taken from combined state, federal and international cases is:

An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.

catlady

August 31st, 2010
6:24 pm

oops
Just Wondering: REPUTABLE firms are proactive. If they had concerns about the information that was available, they had a duty to either 1) back out of the analysis or 2) air their grievances loudly and publicly to either force the state to make the data available or let everyone know they are being denied information. Therefore, their claims of foul NOW that they are under critical examination are (ahem) suspect.

TopPublicSchoolCorruption

August 31st, 2010
7:17 pm

Atlanta-

Maureen…honestly I gave you this information years ago…

TopPublicSchoolCorruption

August 31st, 2010
7:32 pm

Atlanta

Dr. Trotter…How do you think they got away with all that E-Rate waste? The businesses that benefited from the waste were connected business owners with the Northside of Atlanta. That’s why Beverly Hall is now asking the Northside for their strong arm connections to bail her out! Realize that the real truth behind this issue is not transparent…it is all a game of charades
making every attempt to keep your eye off the real problem. Beverly Hall, Kathy Augustine, the Northside LAWYERS and the Professional Standards Commission are in on the witch hunt throughout the APS system looking for the heaviest scapegoat to hang on the school house lawn.

Lee

August 31st, 2010
7:39 pm

John Fremer’s protests are falling on deaf ears. I agree with others who opined that his statements are those of a man who is trying to deflect criticism.

John, if you didn’t get the information you required, it is called a scope limitation and your company should have walked away from the engagement after stating the same publicly. But you didn’t. You did a half-baked job and got called on it by Governor Purdue.

The same goes for KPMG. Yes, they are a “Big 4″ accounting and audit firm. The reason there is a “Big 4″ instead of a “Big 5″ was that Arthur Anderson got caught shredding documents for Enron.

APS paid these consultants. In all things, follow the money.

Dr. John Trotter

August 31st, 2010
9:33 pm

“Top”: I have said many times (even on this blog) that the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) was created by the Good Ole Boys to keep the teachers in line, not the administrators. If the teacher files a complaint against an administrator for ethical and/or legal breaches, most of a time, the complaints fall on deaf ears at the PSC. Same thing with Mark Elgart and SACS. You cannot help but to think that both outfits have political agendas [technically, this should be "agenda," right Catlady?]. (Heck, look at the obvious corruption of the Atlanta and DeKalb school systems accompanied by the micromanaging of their school boards. Just look. Hey Mark Elgart, where are you and your hypocritical SACS Standards?)

If, however, an administrator files a complaint against a teacher, then the teacher’s job is immediately in jeopardy. How inconsistent. Remember when Gwinnett Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks did not report about 45,000 serious disciplinary infractions (like knives, guns, fights, assaults and batteries against both students and school personnel, etc.) about five years ago? This report is required by law. What happened to Wilbanks? The PSC slapped him on the hand. That’s all. The same year, Beverly Hall did not report any disciplinary offenses for a slew of her schools. Again, she got by “with murder” (used metaphorically, of course). She and Wilbanks just flouted the law and got off “scot free.”

Sometimes the PSC will seriously look into complaints against administrators, but, unlike complaints against teachers, you usually have to prod them. There is a double-standard, in my opinion. But, at MACE, we keep filing them against the administrators when we feel that an Official Complaint is merited, and we have witnessed the PSC finding against these administrators. So, perhaps I am being a little too tough on the PSC — at least relative to our complaints. But, SACS is irredeemable. It is a phony organization. Fake to the rotten core! I dearly wish that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution would investigate its hypocritical and inconsistent standards. SACS is fake by its nature and in its scope. (c) MACE, August 31, 2010.

Just Wondering

September 1st, 2010
8:58 am

The Guvna hasn’t criticized Caveon’s work but criticized what he thinks “constrained” their work and part of the investigation. Having math nerd friends look at the report, the math and their approach is solid. All the stuff people are complaining about is in the report. Its the interviews that were led by KPMG that are the real concern and maybe more could have been done on that end.

You can’t fire someone because of data, you need more. In cheating like this you need admissions as there is hardly no physical proof (photo, video, audio etc.) of someone changing answers. I hope the SI gets people talking to really find out what happened and APS should have made a stronger statement to its people to cooperate during the first investigation.

Just wondering, since the APS test process has been improved (Caveon’s recommendations), what else could the district do to prevent/stop cheating or gaming of the system. Is changing school (principal) and teacher evaluations to have less emphasis on the CRCT (or EOCT for that matter) one way to do it? Does APS need a strong whistleblower policy to protect teachers from reprisals, etc.?

An advocate for public education change & choice

September 1st, 2010
10:14 am

@TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta – It’s easy to see how the Northwestern quadrant of the APS district is insulated from the rest of the district. Even a laymen like myself who doesn’t have alot of institutional understanding of the districts history over the last 10 years has been able to observe this fact. It’s a widely known secret. That’s why APS fought so aggressively againest the Fulton County Charter school they accused of poaching students.

Warrior Woman

September 1st, 2010
10:30 am

Fremer’s statements about the work GOSA did are also incorrect. GOSA’s analysis looked at both wrong to right erasures and total erasures. If the flimsy excuse about “getting off line” on the answer sheet were true, both total erasures and wrong to right erasures would have spiked. Of course, even if both spiked, that still leaves the question about why APS students were more likely than other students in the state to “lose their way” on the answer sheet.

TopPublicSchoolCorruption

September 1st, 2010
5:31 pm

Atlanta

Trotter- You could never be too hard on the Professional Standards Commission (which should be renamed Grant’s Professional Standards).

It is time to have a revolt against our tax money going to these worthless entities. It sounds like you have some real experiences…KEEP UP THE FIGHT!

RESPONSE TO: An Advocate for Public Education and Choice- The secret is out…what a shame that everyone knows this! Someone needs to dig deep into this problem. Atlanta is known for the work Martin Luther King did for civil rights…yet it is a facade of the old plantation house with the same old issues. Beverly Hall sits “inside” the house…while they round up a “yard” slave to take blame for the Northside mess. Good ol Gubner Sonny is paying two of his buddies the taxpayer’s money to lynch someone down south for the crimes of the Northside. Beverly, Kathy and those inside the house… what a shame!…and disgrace! to the entire 2010 human race. And to think Atlanta, Georgia is known as the progressive city in the south! Shame! Shame! Shame! on those who KNOW the truth about this and do nothing to EXPOSE it. Shame on YOU!