Are the feds in any better position to figure out whether some APS schools cheated on the CRCT?

Dean Rohrer, NewsArt

Dean Rohrer, NewsArt

With the news that the feds are now investigating whether Atlanta schools cheated on the state exams and thus received  federal grants to which they were not entitled, there are now two investigations of APS under way simultaneously. It seems like APS employees could spend most of the next few months answering questions about what they saw or heard in April of 2009 during the administration of the CRCT.

I still wonder if either investigation will produce any significant results. The success of both probes depends on the willingness of employees at suspect schools to either confess or turn in their colleagues. And the latter could only happen if teachers or administrators witnessed cheating or were told about it later. It would not be enough to maintain that cheating must have happened because the test scores were too high.

And I think a lot of this cheating happened in isolation, not in front of colleagues. If investigators interview students,  it will be hard to expect young kids to accurately recount the conditions under which they took the CRCT 18 months ago and whether their teacher might have told them to “Reconsider your answer to No. 23 again” or “Remember what we reviewed about prime numbers last week.”

An exasperated Sonny Perdue appointed two high-profile prosecutors to the CRCT probe  — former DeKalb DA Bob Wilson and former AG Mike Bowers. The team was in Albany last week investigating Dougherty County, which, like Atlanta, had a shocking number of wrong to right erasures at many of its schools. Dougherty  declared its schools clear of any wrongdoing after a cursory review.

Now, the AJC is reporting that federal authorities are investigating APS for fraud if it can be proven that schools won federal grants based on fabricated test scores.

According to the AJC:

Authorities have begun conducting interviews and may soon issue subpoenas for documents related to the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, according to officials familiar with the investigation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an open inquiry.

But if the schools are found to have earned extra grants through inflated scores, officials could face criminal charges. The U.S. attorney’s office also could ask a judge to order the school district to reimburse the federal government. The bonus grants for Atlanta schools total nearly $360,000 a year.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta, Patrick Crosby, declined to comment. The region’s chief investigator for the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general did not respond to requests for an interview.

The school district has not received subpoenas or other requests for information from federal authorities, spokesman Keith Bromery said Friday. “We have no knowledge of any federal interest in or investigation of that matter.”

A federal investigation would represent a major expansion of the inquiries into how the Atlanta schools raised test scores. It also would underscore the degree to which the cheating scandal challenges the integrity of the district’s claims of steady academic improvement during the past decade.

The statistically improbable gains that some Atlanta schools posted on the CRCT first came to light in articles in the AJC in 2008 and 2009. When state officials studied erasures on CRCT answer sheets from 2009, they found excessive numbers of wrong-to-right changes in 58 Atlanta schools — more than two-thirds of the district’s elementary and middle schools.

“Any time the U.S. attorney’s office decides to investigate something like this, it’s going to be very methodical, very document-intensive,” said Atlanta lawyer Jeffrey Brickman, a former federal prosecutor and a former DeKalb County district attorney. “They would start off by issuing subpoenas, then will review the documents and follow the evidence where it leads them.

“Both sides will have to be very careful not to step on each other’s toes and not compromise each other’s investigation. It’s always important to play well with others in the same sandbox.”

90 comments Add your comment

hmmm....

September 26th, 2010
7:16 pm

I think that in each school, there are a select group of people that know about the cheating because they have been asked to be a part of answer changing or have witnessed conversation about it. Most of these people will be too scared to tell what they know b/c they are aware that the info can be traced back to them and they are too scared about getting in trouble for being a party to the cheating or scared b/c they will be seen as a “rat” and worry about keeping their job or keeping sane on the job. These dynamics are what’s going to keep investigators from getting good information. Are the teachers going to be given immunity? After all, it would have been their duty to report irregularities. APS makes enough people get their hands dirty so that these people do not feel safe to admit what they have been a part of. This is just the tip of the iceberg for APS. Hopefully one day the sham that they are will be revealed.

David Sims

September 26th, 2010
7:36 pm

Maybe the federal government should haul all the principals of the Georgia “severe list” schools down to Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and keep them there until the truth comes out.

David Sims

September 26th, 2010
7:37 pm

Superintendents and board of education members, too, of course.

thedangerhereis

September 26th, 2010
8:03 pm

a whole lot of bones are going to fall out of the closets once they start opening on all levels.

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Ed Johnson

September 26th, 2010
8:16 pm

17 September 2002 (yes, 2002)

Atlanta School Board Charter Review Commission
c/o Dr. Thomas Cole, Chair
Clark Atlanta University
223 James P. Brawley Drive, Southwest
Atlanta, Georgia 30314

Dear Dr. Cole and Commission Members:

It is fitting you chose Crim High School as the venue for your final public forum to solicit additional and final comments on your Preliminary Report of 4 September 2002 [to change the Atlanta Public Schools Charter]. Accordingly, I take this opportunity to present my comments via this open letter.

But first, a question, please: Who among you is knowledgeable of the works of Dr. Alfie Kohn to any extent?

To the extent you are, you are poised to honor the late Dr. Alonzo Crim [and former APS Superintendent]. To the extent you are not, you are poised likely to dishonor Dr. Crim.

Why? Well, you see, the paths of Dr. Kohn and Dr. Crim crossed on 23 March 2000 at Georgia State University School of Music, where Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn lecture.

Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn make the case that people who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get school reform wrong. Such people opt for a demand model of learning rather than a support model of learning.

Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn make the case that people who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get improvement wrong. Such people opt for maximum difficulty rather than optimum difficulty. Harder is better, they believe.

Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn make the case that people who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get teaching and learning wrong. Such people opt to focus on uniform and specific skills rather than understanding.

Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn make the case that people who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get evaluation wrong. Such people opt for critical reliance on standardized test results rather than helping kids become better thinkers and learners.

And Dr. Crim heard Dr. Kohn make the case that people who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such utterly misunderstand motivation. Such people opt to force kids to overly focus on how well they are doing rather than on what they are doing. Winning and top-rank is better than excellence, they believe.

At the end of Dr. Kohn’s lecture, I approached Dr. Crim, introduced myself as president of Atlanta Area Deming Study Group, and asked his opinion of the cases Dr. Kohn made. To my delight, Dr. Crim replied: “Alfie is right on. He gets it.”

With those words, Dr. Crim renewed my hope for the future of public education, in general, and Atlanta Public Schools, in particular. Still, I had one concern: has Dr. Crim the moral and ethical courage to lend his voice to the matter?

To put my concern to rest, I contacted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who covered Dr. Kohn’s lecture with the idea to interview Dr. Crim.

The AJC reporter did indeed interview Dr. Crim, and [in a subsequent article quoted Dr. Crim]: “’I think [Kohn is] right on the money,’ said one member of the audience, former Atlanta school Superintendent Alonzo Crim, now a GSU education professor. ‘Just as Kohn said, we’re trying to go back to the ’20s and make our schools factories.’” (Uphill battle: Many teachers think using standardized tests to measure specific objectives will change education for the worse, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 16 April 2000.)

By your Preliminary Report of 4 September 2002 that shows the changed Atlanta Public Schools Charter you apparently aim to push through to the state legislature, my heart and prayers go out for you, for you obviously do not get it. Perhaps only the delusional dare to believe the charter, as changed, will serve to “improve the governance of the Atlanta school system in order to support delivery of the best education possible for the children of Atlanta.”

My comments enclosed are incomplete. Time did not allow me to write comments on all that I read. Still, my comments note glib exactness, numeral illiteracy, and nonsensical contention created where none existed before the changes.

Moreover, in your new Section 2-114, Roles of Board and [S]uperintendent, I noted therein this horrific responsibility among the others: “… the Board is responsible for … Adopting district-wide policies that provide incentives for progress and consequences for failure for all decision-makers in the district, as well as for students.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is behaviorism at its worst. If institutionalized, such responsibility will help to move Atlanta Public Schools “back to the 20s and make our schools factories,” just as Dr. Crim understood.

You of course have until 30 September 2002 to honor Dr. Crim, and prove his wisdom and your work worthy. It would be wrong of anyone to suggest otherwise. All it takes is the recommendation to leave the charter nearly unchanged and to seek avenues to improve learning and other matters unfettered by political expedience and the agendas of certain private and non-profit organizations. Do you have Dr. Crim’s courage to do so?

Frankly, I fail to see why you and the organizations you represent would choose to participate in this insidious affair. Why have you allowed yourselves to be appointed foremen of harm and destruction of Atlanta’s children? Why have you chosen servitude over freedom and innovation? What have you to gain?

Whatever your answers, know that your gain will in no way offset the damage effected through you. Dr. Crim knew this. May your God help you to know it, too.

I may have by now used my allotted three minutes. Still, I would be remiss if I did not leave you with the following short story. It is called “Bricks without Straw.”

[One] day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy…. Make them work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay not attention to lies.”

Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” So the people scattered all over [the land] to gather stubble to use for straw. The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” The … foremen appointed by Pharaoh’s slave drivers were beaten and were asked, “Why didn’t you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?

Then the … foreman went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”

Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what your are—lazy! … Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

The … foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and [Moses and Aaron] said, “May [your God] look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

Thank you,

[Ed Johnson]

Enclosures:

1. Comments on Preliminary Report of 4 September 2002
2. Preliminary Report of 4 September 2002, reference lines and shading added

cc: The Honorable Roy Barnes, Governor, State of Georgia
The Honorable David Scott, Senator, State of Georgia
Members of Atlanta Board of Education
Mr. Sam Williams, President, MACOC

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

September 26th, 2010
8:24 pm

The Feds won’t investigate as Wilson & Bowers are, but rather review all the documentation produced to date, and then review what the new investigation finds. You’re right, in that the individuals involved may never be able to be identified, within the the legal requirement of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But they may be able to be identified, in that the answer changing had to be known by them, and then render them demonstrably incapable of meeting the requirements of licensing/certification.

Attentive Parent

September 26th, 2010
8:42 pm

Maureen,

The feds are coming in with the powers and penalties of criminal law. That is indeed more powerful and gaining information and silencing.

The timing is really bothersome especially after telling Tom Morgan to back off. The feds could wait for the wilson/Bowers report without compromise to their rights.

Unless they want to silence.

We had congressional hearings Friday that according to this Justice Department only minorities have civil rights they will defend. That’s a really polarized view of the Constitution.

Given Coates’ testimony it’s not hard to imagine the feds once again deciding to “Stop the prosecution whatever the facts”.

Once again-the children’s futures depend on knowing what really happened.

David Sims

September 26th, 2010
8:44 pm

@Ed Johnson. It sounds to me as if Dr. Kohn was either a fool (if he believed what he said) or an education saboteur (if he did not believe what he said).

Standards are necessary because without them the quality of education tends to decrease over time. If there’s no standard that says high school graduates must know either Latin or Greek, plus one modern foreign language, before he may graduate, then sooner or later the schools will start graduating people don’t have these language skills. Likewise with English grammar and composition, algebra, history, civics, and so on. Standards are what keeps these things firmly in the curriculum.

Standards are unvarying educational goals. Performance is the degree to which the standards have been met or exceeded. High performance is much better than low performance, yes sir and definitely. Achievement is a good thing. How could it not be? Dr. Kohn seems to be saying that a “support model” of learning is better than a “demand model” of learning.

Not so. What Kohn is thinking, I think, is that education is a function of good teaching, and not at all dependent on the intelligence of the students, nor on variations in intelligence among the students. That’s an incorrect assumption. No amount of “support” (in the form of better teaching and teacher’s aids) can make a low-IQ student learn beyond his maximum potential for learning. You can waste a lot of money trying to teach a pig to sing, or trying to teach calculus to a borderline retard.

What a “demand model” does is separate the wheat from the chaff. It shows which students are the best learners, which ones are smarter than the others, which ones ought to be given the advanced opportunities because they, only they, can make use of them, which ones ought to be given preference for college scholarships, and which ones should be considered most favorably for the jobs which only they can do well.

So, by what I’ve heard, Dr. Kohn had his head screwed on backwards.

Private School Guy

September 26th, 2010
8:52 pm

Has no one learned anything here? Testing is a farce. Why are the people who have the most to lose administering the tests? Can I do my own building inspection, fire inspection, health inspection or driving exam? Either have the testing done by an independent agency or stop doing the testing.

Fred

September 26th, 2010
8:57 pm

The federal Gov’t has no business (Constitutionally) monitoring local schools. there is a direct correlation between the heightened involvement of the feds and the decline in education. It’s there because I say it is lol.

But seriously, WHAT do we need to do so that a parent like myself doesn’t have to starve so that I can send MY child to private school because the public schools suck so badly?

David Sims

September 26th, 2010
8:59 pm

@Attentive Parent. Good thinking! You are right to be suspicious, and you have a correct estimate of how shamefully political correctness has come to dominate the workings of the federal government. Yes, you might be right. The federal government might want to circumvent the state investigation by preempting the matter and by holding trump cards on “conclusions.”

I am reminded of a 1991 quote by Mary Frances Berry, the Black chairwoman for the US Commission on Civil Rights.

“Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.”

November

September 26th, 2010
9:18 pm

But seriously, WHAT do we need to do so that a parent like myself doesn’t have to starve so that I can send MY child to private school because the public schools suck so badly?

You know Fred, “make more money so you can afford it. If all public school students suddenly decided they wanted to go to private schools, then the private schools would be in the same mess that the public schools are in now. The real answer is to get rid of all the “adults” who are causing the problem (in my opinion, Beverly Hall and her cohorts) and to start making parents accountable.

South Ga Teacher180

September 26th, 2010
9:21 pm

the Feds need to stay our of our business here in Ga…they need to worry about their own junk in DC…trust me, there is enough up there to worry with.

David Sims

September 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

@Maureen, do you remember this earlier cheating scandal from 2007?

Former Technology Director for Atlanta Public Schools Pleads Guilty In ‘E-Rate’ Corruption Scheme.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/former-technology-director-for-atlanta-public-schools-pleads-guilty-in-e-rate-corruption-scheme-57879122.html

Maureen Downey

September 26th, 2010
9:52 pm

@David Sims, I remember the first one as I wrote about it for the editorial board. And the guy who pleaded guilty had left APS for my school district. Maureen

John

September 26th, 2010
10:00 pm

Terminate all the bums.

Question Man

September 26th, 2010
10:06 pm

Won’t the federal investigators bring resources to bear that state and local organizations don’t have? Won’t the federal authorities be investigating the APS cheating as fraud, theft, or false reporting? The school cheating nightmare is extremely unfortunate, but didn’t many within APS bring it on themselves and the system?

Feds need to investigate

September 27th, 2010
5:52 am

They need to investigate SACS, the bond lawyers, Brock and his merry band, Bernstein, Coleman, DeKalb County BOE, Cobb BOE, Fulton BOE, the governors office and the conductor of this assault on the black community by the AJC. This is about revenge, pay-back, and dollars for education.

Attentive Parent

September 27th, 2010
6:00 am

If the charges of cheating are true and there is certainly enough info to warrant an investigation, why do you think it’s the AJC that’s assaulting the black community?

Wouldn’t the assault be by the people being paid to educate APS students if they are found to be lying?

Are all investigations into the actual practices of high minority school districts racist?

David Sims

September 27th, 2010
7:01 am

If the federal investigators have it in mind to get the facts clear and to charge the guilty they find with appropriate crimes, then they will be a help to the state investigators and a benefit to education in Georgia. But with the feds, you really can’t tell in advance what their real motive is.

They might intend to preempt the state investigation, to deny Bowers and Wilson the power to question the officials of suspected schools on the grounds of that it would interfere with the federal investigation, after which the federal investigation could produce a fancier whitewash than the one hatched by the Blue Ribbon Commission.

With a very little effort, you can recall instances in which federal law-men have worn the white hats, and instances in which they have worn the black hats. In the 1992 murder of Sam and Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the FBI wore black hats and did evil. In the 2001 arrest of Seth Bekenstein in Walnut Creek, California, the FBI wore white hats and did good.

http://articles.sfgate.com/2001-01-12/bay-area/17578260_1_child-pornography-sexual-activity-court-papers

Although the news item does not say so, some of the titles distributed by that “Russian” (actually Jewish) crime syndicate were, in addition to child pornography, also snuff pornography, in which the victim was murdered on camera. A police investigator in Sweden, where the same videos were also being distributed, said that after the murder the pornographers would sometimes perform autopsies, also on camera, to remove the child’s internal organs, presumably for sale on the medical black market. So it is good that the FBI nabbed Seth.

But who knows which color hat the feds are wearing this time? Not I.

David Sims

September 27th, 2010
7:23 am

@Feds need to investigate. The state isn’t assaulting the black community. It is investigating a crime involving hundreds of mostly black Atlanta-area educators. The state didn’t just decide to do it to put blacks in their places; they decided to do it after a statistical analysis of pupil answer sheets on the CRCT showed a large number of suspicious erasures. The cheaters at some Atlanta schools evidently became greedy for undeserved recognition of merit and cheated up the test scores so much that the gains over previous years were impossible for the state to ignore. That’s why the scandal occurred.

Save The Babies

September 27th, 2010
8:04 am

IT IS ABOUT TIME! Dr. Hall, School Board Members, Executive Directors, Finance Department, Legal Department and others – it is time to pay for what you have done and have not done for our children. They were self serving, arrogant, deceitful and conning. NOW IT IS TIME TO PAY!!! I hope all of them go to JAIL.

And by the way I am a retired 25 year employee of APS. I worked in an administrative office and I know first hand how they munipulated the data. They thought I did not know what they were doing. Ha……Shame on you. You reap what you sow.

teacher&mom

September 27th, 2010
8:08 am

I can’t help but wonder if the decision to step in and investigate has more to do with recent hits to the progressive school reform movement and the need for damage control.

In the past year, NYC public schools suffered a huge blow when the state increased cut scores and suddenly Klein’s so-called school reforms weren’t as impressive. The voters of DC have given Fendy/Rhee a message that their progressive, heavy-handed tactics are no longer welcome. I may be way off base, but I don’t Arne Duncan and others can afford to let the track record of another urban school district smudge their reform ideas.

I also think the education giants on Wall Street…Pearson, McGraw Hill…aren’t willing to “allow” the public to start questioning the use of standardized testing. Too much money is at stack to allow these recent foibles to interfere with the profit margin. Think I’m crazy?? Go to their web pages and browse through the investor links and news links. Look at how involved these companies are in developing federal ed policies that create lucrative opportunities for their companies.

I predict the feds will come in, prosecute a few “rouge” teachers and administrators. Roll a few heads, and hand out a some fines. The moves will appease the voters and business will continue as usual. Hall may even be replaced but I guarantee Gates and others will lend a hand (money) in “helping” the APS board select another “qualified” candidate.

David Sims

September 27th, 2010
8:22 am

@teacher and mom. I remember that story about NYC public schools alleged “gains” on test scores and their alleged “closure” of the racial gap in scores evaporating when they were shown to be bogus. Probably some cheating very similar to that on the CRCT within the Atlanta Public Schools was also going on in New York. The New York press is, unfortunately, much skimpier on the details regarding who is to blame for the fakery in their town, as compared with the greater rigorousness of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

David Sims

September 27th, 2010
8:59 am

Oh yeah, Gates. Go to the Gates Foundation website and tally up the faces by race. Black, black, black, brown, black, black, black, brown, black, high-yellow, black… It has already handed APS at least $23.6 million in grants, and there might have been more grants than I know about. And even without that sort of grant, APS is already funded 45% more than the average Georgia school district is, according to GreatSchools.com. I’ve wondered whether Gates’ doing this has anything to do with that computer software monopoly lawsuit against him some years ago.

teacher&mom

September 27th, 2010
8:59 am

One more comment and then I need to “Seize the Day! and get to work :) ”…. Maureen made an interesting comment that highlights an irritation I have with standardized testing. She uses the following possible scenario to show how a teacher can cheat- “Remember what we reviewed about prime numbers last week.”

OK-First let me say that the testing procedures in my school district never allows teachers to test their own students or in their subject matter. I’ve never given an EOCT in science…ever. Even if I wanted to cheat on the EOCT, it would be almost impossible.

Back to Maureen’s statement… I teach lots of students from poverty and/or special ed (learning disabled, ADHD, EBD, etc.). I’m pretty darn good at it. I know these students can and do learn. However, sometimes how they demonstrate that learning can’t always be captured by a standardized test question. I regularly incorporate AP type questions into my assessments to encourage higher order thinking skills. What I’ve found is the low SES/Sped students can answer the questions BUT I often have to give them a reminder or prompt like…..”think about that lab we did last week and how it demonstrated osmosis or remember that segment of the video where the guy talked about inertia?” Simple, prompts that help the bridge the gap in their processing skills or often all that is needed to allow the student to answer the question. I never tell them answer, I just help them process through the learning. The cool thing is when one of these students is able to make a spot on connection to the learning in the classroom and how it applies to say auto tech or horticulture. That is authentic learning. That is the type of learning that people like Alfie Kohn and others want to see. It is also why I firmly believe why schools with high numbers of SES &/or sped students will always struggle with standardized tests.

I understand why we are not allowed to give prompts during standardized testing. I realize that it is a fuzzy line and what may be an innocent prompt for one teacher could easily become cheating in another classroom. What I don’t understand is the REFUSAL to consider the possibility that these tests really don’t have any value at all.

November

September 27th, 2010
9:00 am

Feds need to investigate

September 27th, 2010
5:52 am
They need to investigate SACS, the bond lawyers, Brock and his merry band, Bernstein, Coleman, DeKalb County BOE, Cobb BOE, Fulton BOE, the governors office and the conductor of this assault on the black community by the AJC. This is about revenge, pay-back, and dollars for education.

With the APS being a very high majority Black population, why don’t you blacks do something about your own house? This is not an assault on your community……they’re trying to clean up what your community has screwed up so bad I doubt it’s ever gonna get cleaned up. Get the chip off your shoulder buddy and start working.

Maureen Downey

September 27th, 2010
9:05 am

@Teacher & Mom, I often cite this statement from Diane Ravitch, which she made at a conference I went to about 10 years ago. Asked about whether standardized tests were valuable, she said, “It depends on the test.” Is the CRCT a good test? Many of you don’t think so, but I have found high CRCT scores align with high ITBS and high grades. Clearly, CRCT finds higher levels of competency in reading and math in Georgia than the NAEP, but the state would argue that the tests should not track closely.
In any event, the CRCT will go once we move to national tests. I know that you have concerns about who will develop those tests and what they will test, but I think we are going to have national tests.
I also think we need tests — we need measures that have some semblance of objectivity and provide some sense of where kids are collectively in the state. I agree with posters that we need better tests, but I still think we need tests.
Maureen

David Sims

September 27th, 2010
9:14 am

Has anybody considered that the scandal and implied failure of the Atlanta Public Schools is simply part of a global racial pattern? As a race watcher, I certainly am not surprised that the apparent gains in CRCT scores have turned out to be largely fraudulent. I’d have been very surprised if such a black-heavy school district had done it honestly. I wouldn’t expect that for the same reason I’d not expect Zimbabwe to begin launching its own interplanetary probes.

parent

September 27th, 2010
9:23 am

@ Fred and others:
The Federal Government has every right to investigate the APS if the APS is receiving any federal money. Don’t we want the federal government to make sure that the money they are spending (our tax money) is being used by entities that follow the rules?

@ Attentive Parent,
I understand this is a serious issue, but I don’t really see if “the children’s futures depend on knowing what really happened.” I think that’s a hyperbole.

Laurie

September 27th, 2010
9:58 am

Maureen wrote “but I have found high CRCT scores align with high ITBS and high grades.”

If that’s the case, then why bother with the CRCT tests? Why not just rely on grades, or ITBS scores?

Dr. John Trotter

September 27th, 2010
9:59 am

Maureen, It seems that Diane Ravitch has changed her previously-held notions about testing. Her latest book, subtitled, “How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” is very critical of testing. I bought this book a couple of weeks ago. I am surprised that she ever fell for the testing fad in light of her book, “Left Back,” a devastating book on the failed school reforms in the last century. I noticed the other day that I bought this book on February 18, 2001 in Fayetteville. Am I the only person who writes down on the inside jacket of a book when and where I bought the book? LOL.

We need to go back to a general achievement test like the one that was admininistered for years here in Georgia. This test was for the purpose of simply gauging where a kid stood as far as achievement was concerned, not some high-stakes, if-you-fail-this-test-you-will-not-be-promoted type test.

In our first MACE magazine in 1995, we stated that the tests have become the curricula of the schools, and we called for a cessation of the testing mania in our schools. I have continuously said that the standardized tests have become the false gods of public education. It seems that all superintendents have bowed down to these false gods. By the way, you can see what we have written on testing at http://www.theteachersadvocate.com. The old magazines are in the “Archives” section.

teacher&mom

September 27th, 2010
10:05 am

Maureen….of course they align. I’m almost never surprised by a score on the EOCT or the CRCT (when I taught middle school.) Why am I not surprised? Because I’ve found that the EOCT scores are almost always higher than the test scores in my classroom. Students actually end up passing my class because they scored high enough on the EOCT to pull up their grade. I don’t need the EOCT to help me determine the level of competency that takes place in my classroom. I’m a well-trained, competent teacher who knows how to measure the learning of my students. When a student fails, it is either because they didn’t take the test seriously (I’ve had students tell me they stayed up all night playing video games and wanted to nap during the testing period) or I knew they did not learn the material (excessive absences, lack of work effort, etc) and did not deserve to earn a credit.

High grades, high CRCT scores, and high ITBS scores will probably align because grades are never based strictly on tests. Homework assignments, projects, daily work, etc all contribute to a high grade…and contribute to higher test scores. Students who don’t complete homework assignments, struggle with organization, struggle with attention issues or processing issues, don’t study outside the classroom, and lack a support system at home to help them overcome these issues probably won’t have high grades and will probably not have high CRCT/EOCT scores.

The teacher down the hall from me spends the first 20-30 minutes of her block going over practice EOCT questions. Everyday. I don’t. I refuse. We both have good test scores. On paper, both of us come out as strong teachers. However, what is happening is our college bound parents are not happy with her methods and word is spreading. More and more parents are requesting a schedule change. For the past few years, our administrators have pointed to her good test scores whenever parents have complained about her teaching. It is becoming evident that something is amiss in her classroom and she may not be back next year. All the test scores managed to do is provide a smokescreen to what is actually taking place in her classroom.

As a parent have you ever seen a CRCT or ITBS score that didn’t confirm what you ALREADY knew about how well your child was learning? I suspect whether the score was good or bad, it was just a confirmation of what you already knew was going on in the classroom. The score probably wasn’t a surprise.

I really don’t have a problem with standardized tests or national tests or systems of accountability, I grew up taking the ITBS and CRT. What I have come to bitterly resent is the vast amount of money that is spent to develop the tests and develop supplemental materials to “improve test scores.” Money that has been diverted from school libraries, science labs, vocational programs, art, music, etc. Can we honestly say test scores have solved any of the issues in education?

By the way—love this blog and the opportunity to participate in thought-provoking dialog.

Lawyer

September 27th, 2010
10:07 am

Yes, its about time that the Feds do their job and recoup the dollars given to APS based on the fraud of Dr. Hall. The Feds investiagation should not only look at the CRCT cheating, but should look at the technology issue again. Millions of dollars were misused based on illegal contracting and bid rigging by Dr. Hall. Although, some persons were prosecuted, Dr. Hall was not because she claim this did not happen during her tenure. However, she has been here for 10 years and the district is still spending monies inappropriately to right this.

Also, where is the money coming from to support the defense attorney hired by Dr. Hall? Again, this is abuse of taxpayer money. Throwing good money on bad decisions runs seems to be a standard of operations for APS under Dr. Hall.

WHEN DOES IT END, FIRE DR. HALL NOW.

Finally, the notion that was mentioned in a recent editorial to recruit the Washington D.C. school superintendent to APS is insane. Many people forget that Atlanta Metro has many excellent administrators who would be a perfect fit to run APS.

teacher&mom

September 27th, 2010
10:10 am

@ Dr. Trotter—I’m currently reading Ravitch’s book which is contributing to my frustration over testing, NCLB, and RttR. I’ve had to change my habit of reading before bedtime because I can’t fall asleep after reading a chapter :)

Proud Black Man

September 27th, 2010
10:33 am

@ David Sims

“Has anybody considered that the scandal and implied failure of the Atlanta Public Schools is simply part of a global racial pattern? As a race watcher, I certainly am not surprised that the apparent gains in CRCT scores have turned out to be largely fraudulent. I’d have been very surprised if such a black-heavy school district had done it honestly. I wouldn’t expect that for the same reason I’d not expect Zimbabwe to begin launching its own interplanetary probes.”

“Race Watcher?”

Dont you mean race bigot?

Dr. John Trotter

September 27th, 2010
10:49 am

teacher&mom: Yes, the latest Ravitch book is stimulating, especially her chaper entitled: “What Would Mrs. Ratliff Do?” Well, in today’s school culture, Mrs. Ratliff would be fired because she wouldn’t give As to kids deserves Fs. The great teachers of our collective past (and we have all had them, right?) would not (by choice) survive this mindless public educational culture of teaching the test, allowing kids to keep taking a test until you finally just have to give them a grade or fall into the “bad graces” of your administration, allowing kids to behave like they want because the admininistration will not support you in any of your disciplinary measures, and succumbing to any whim of the spoiled, irate, and irresponsible parents.

A high school principal told me recently at a football game that a parent threatened to sue the school system because his/her child was given a zero on a test for cheating. Can you imagine a parent in the 1950s or 1960s threatening to sue because his or her child was given a zero for cheating? Fortunately, this principal is one of the “good guys” and is not intimidated by such threats. Unfortunately, way too many administrators today actually cower to such threats.

For the record, Beverly Hall arrived in Atlanta in the heat of the Summer of 1999. She’s now into her 12th year of this “reign of terror.” I am sure that there are scores and scores of former APS employees who are willing to testify about this “reign of terror.”

Attentive Parent

September 27th, 2010
10:53 am

Parent-

Because the CRCT is not considered to be an objectively demanding test and Georgia has low cut scores to boot, what sounds hyperbolic is actually factual.

Here’s an article from last year calling national attention to the problem and how Georgia is classifying students as proficient who are actually barely literate.

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_1_state-educational-testing.html

The instructional methods APS pushes, which have been documented here before, are not considered to be effective practices for the at risk population it serves.

The question then is whether the cheating scandal is an attempt to cover up deficiencies in knowledge and skills that make the students functionally illiterate or innumerate and thus compromise futures.

A cheating elementary school removes the necessary alarm bells during the very time the deficits are the easiest to fix.

LLL

September 27th, 2010
10:58 am

What test to use depends on the purpse of testing – I think that Testing 101.

If we want to see how our students compare to the students from the rest of the country, we use a standardized and normalized test. If we want to see how well our students are learning what they are (supposedly) being taught, then we can’t use the nationally normed test. So, CRCT and ITBS can’t be used for the same purposes.

We need to make sure that the test we use matches the purpose of testing. Of course, we can say testing is useless and irrelevant, then we can forget both types of tests.

Eddie Longs Underwear

September 27th, 2010
11:02 am

PBM doesnt know is ABC’s so the rubric method surely isnt his cup of tea.

Dr. John Trotter

September 27th, 2010
11:02 am

Please forgive my careless writing…”kids deserves Fs…” Ha! “…kids who deserve Fs…” Sorry. I type in haste as I am still taking my 50 to 60 vitamins! Hey, I didn’t go to bed until about 4:00 AM! But, after lunch (especially with all my fried green tomatoes), I am ripping and roaring and ready to kick some proverbial posterior…like the great picket this past Friday afternoon at Fulton’s Randolph Elementary. The police officer arrives with his blue lights just a-swirling! We didn’t move! I told him that we weren’t leaving! It will be great footage on MACE Live TV! Ha! By the way, why would you fire a “Teacher of the Year”? That’s what we wanted to know. We posed this question on the picket line, and the fired teacher was not even a MACE member. Some things just aren’t right.

Dr. John Trotter

September 27th, 2010
11:14 am

The current AJC headline tells us that two teenage thugs attacked a 93 year old WWII vet for $27.00. Attacked him with rocks. Now these two “angels” (or “babies,” as these hypocritical superintendents call them) are likely attending some public school, wreaking havoc in teachers’ classes.

When are you naive educrats going to believe that we have veritible thugs running and ruining our public schools? Just another bit of anecdotal evidence.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

September 27th, 2010
11:49 am

PBM, tell us you did not feel a little bit of dread when you read Cynthia Tucker’s conclusion that poor schools are creating a permanent black underclass in this country.

Permanent.

Black.

Underclass.

Not all who point out the welded-steel correlation between race and performance in APS (from both students AND students) are bigots. This is Obama’s post-racial America; people like David Sims can and should speak about race without worrying about sending you into convulsions.

It’s time to stop this nonsense that blacks can’t talk about their problems openly in front of whites. A permanent black underclass is the worst possible outcome here. Even the most conservative (or, in my case, libertarian) among us whites understand that and want to help you avoid that.

But so long as you keep trotting out mediocrities like Bev Hall and then believe them when they pee on your head and tell you it’s raining, you are headed where Cynthia Tucker thinks you are headed.

A Concerned Parent

September 27th, 2010
11:53 am

APS should be investigated by the FBI because when the story came out with out evidence, APS was condemned. No names has been mentioned, but here were teachers getting transfered and APS bad mouthing.. If there was cheating, then the people who committed the crime should be made accountable for it, not the whole AJC school system. The media today is to condemn to make a story without getting the proof. No one ever mentioned that it could be the powers that who did not want this school to get ahead.

Proud Black Man

September 27th, 2010
12:03 pm

@ Eddie Longs Underwear

“PBM doesnt know is ABC’s so the rubric method surely isnt his cup of tea.”

Don’t you have larger problems than my so called ABC deficiency?

Proud Black Man

September 27th, 2010
12:10 pm

@ Springdale Park Elementary Parent

Excuse me but I thought the name of this thread is

“Are the feds in any better position to figure out whether some APS schools cheated on the CRCT?”

Please point out where I have defended Dr. Hall.

But on a side note what is it with you white people not wanting to give black people their official title when addressing them? Are you on first name basis with “Bev Hall” as you call her? You tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned) also do that with President Obama then you have the audacity to claim that its his policies not race that you are upset about. Yeah right.

Dr. John Trotter

September 27th, 2010
12:13 pm

The Feds getting involved in APS, but thunderous silence from the hypocritical Mark Elgart and the fake SACS organization? Hmm.

Dr. Tim

September 27th, 2010
12:18 pm

They Feds will spend at least $20 million and decide that the data is “inconclusive.” You read it here.

catlady

September 27th, 2010
12:22 pm

Ms. Downey, your statement that high CRCT scores track with high ITBS and grades tells me you are looking at a small group of elite students. That would be true on that end of the spectrum. However, if you look at the “meets” CRCT scores and look at the ITBS scores, you will see the very discrepency we are talking about. On the 2 ends of the continuum, they are pretty equal; ie, if you are very good or very bad at something, it shows up on both. It’s the kids who the CRCT says meet the criteria who you will see in the 25% on ITBS. THOSE are the kids that show the lie of CRCT.