Is everybody cheating on high-stakes tests?

Michelle Rhee's success in Washington as measured by student scores is now in question.

Michelle Rhee's success in Washington as measured by student scores is now in question.

If you were wondering if Atlanta was alone in its testing irregularities, take a look at these USA Today stories questioning the test gains posted in Washington, D.C., under former chancellor and much celebrated reformer Michelle Rhee.

Using the same methodology that the AJC used to dissect Atlanta test score gains, USA Today found similar instances of outlier schools where students posted improbable, if not impossible, swings in scores, in six states and Washington. (These cheating stories make this parent petition in opposition of test scores in teacher evaluations all the more relevant.)

Today’s USA Today story says: (If you have time, link to the story and read it as it is a great piece.)

From the start, Rhee emphasized a need to raise scores, restore calm to chaotic schools and close those with lagging scores and small enrollments. She paid bonuses to principals and teachers who produced big gains on scores. She let go dozens of principals and fired at least 600 teachers. Others retired or quit.

The pressure on principals was unrelenting, says Aona Jefferson, a former D.C. principal who is now president of the Council of School Officers, representing principals and other administrators. Every year, Jefferson says, Rhee met with each principal and asked what kind of test score gains he would post in the coming school year. Jefferson says principals told her that Rhee expected them to increase scores by 10 percentile points or more every year. “What do you do when your chancellor asks, ‘How many points can you guarantee this year?’ ” Jefferson says. “How is a principal supposed to do that?”

Rhee churned through principals. TheWashington Post reported that Rhee appointed 91 principals in her three years as chancellor, 39 of whom no longer held those jobs in August 2010. Some left on their own, either resigning or retiring; other principals, on one-year contracts, were let go for not producing quickly enough.

Union officials say the pressure for high test scores may have tempted educators to cheat. “This is like an education Ponzi scam,” says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers’ Union. “If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That’s incredibly dangerous.”

When D.C. administrators resisted investigating the 2008 scores, there was no counterweight to force the issue. The state board is empowered only to advise OSSE. Mary Lord, a board member with a teenager who attends a D.C. high school, is critical of the decision not to investigate the 2008 scores. “If you are going to add all this weight” to testing, “hanging the principals’ reputations … and the teachers’ pay on it, you have to make sure it is totally accurate,” Lord says.

Board members say that, like parents, they have been kept in the dark about testing irregularities. The state board wasn’t aware, Lord says, of the dispute between the superintendent’s office and Rhee until its members saw reports in TheWashington Post in the fall of 2009. She says she did not see the erasure analysis or the lists of schools flagged by McGraw-Hill until USA TODAY shared its copies.

After Rhee gave bonuses to educators in some schools that posted big gains in test scores in 2007 and 2008, there was little incentive to examine those scores, Lord says. “You’ve handed out these big bonuses. What are you going to do? Take them back?” she says. “It’s a bombshell. It’s embarrassing.”

In an earlier story this month on cheating, USA Today looked at Ohio’s Charles Seipelt Elementary School, where it was discovered that a veteran teacher had looked at test questions, copied them and then used them in the study guide he handed out to his classes.

Here is an excerpt from that first story

Seipelt’s gains and losses are typical of a pattern uncovered by a USA TODAY investigation of the standardized tests of millions of students in six states and the District of Columbia. The newspaper identified 1,610 examples of anomalies in which public school classes — a school’s entire fifth grade, for example — boasted what analysts regard as statistically rare, perhaps suspect, gains on state tests.

Such anomalies surfaced in Washington, D.C., and each of the states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio — where USA TODAY analyzed test scores. For each state, the newspaper obtained three to seven years’ worth of scores. There were another 317 examples of equally large, year-to-year declines in an entire grade’s scores.

USA TODAY used a methodology widely recognized by mathematicians, psychometricians and testing companies. It compared year-to-year changes in test scores and singled out grades within schools for which gains were 3 standard deviations or more from the average statewide gain on that test. In layman’s language, that means the students in that grade showed greater improvement than 99.9% of their classmates statewide.

The higher the standard deviation, the rarer that improvement is. In dozens of cases, USA TODAY found 5, 6 and even 7 standard deviations, making those gains even more exceptional.

Large year-to-year jumps in test scores by an entire grade should raise red flags, especially if scores drop in later grades, says Brian Jacob, director of the Center on Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan. Such fluctuations by themselves do not prove there was cheating, but Jacob says they offer “a reasonable way to identify suspicious things” that should be investigated.

In the past decade, similar score spikes uncovered by The Dallas Morning News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using the same methods as USA TODAY, led state officials in Texas and Georgia to conduct major probes of hundreds of schools. Most recently, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall announced she will step down in June, following inquires by federal and state investigators of alleged cheating at 58 Atlanta schools.

The question we have to ask after the AJC series on alleged cheating in APS and now the USA Today investigation is whether cheating has become a widespread and common response to unrealistic and unrelenting pressure to improve student performance. This has to be addressed before we fold test scores in teacher evaluations.

It’s time for a candid discussion about testing and expectations in our schools.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

102 comments Add your comment

For the students

March 28th, 2011
9:55 am

Keep in mind that in Georgia the vast majority of schools and districts were not found to be accountable for cheating in the state audits. Keep in mind, the article only talks specifically about one school in DC. It might seem when you read in the paper that everybody is cheating but that simply isn’t true. Most of our schools have highly ethical professionals working hard every day to do whatever they can to help students learn with very little support from communities and not enough support from families.

Me

March 28th, 2011
10:13 am

Again, Is anyone surprised by this? When unreasonable expectations are placed on the backs of ANYONE in any career/position, you’ll see a percentage of those people resort to desperate measures. I’m not saying cheating is OK by any means, but when you back someone into a corner it can turn into a free-for-all rather quickly.

Me2

March 28th, 2011
10:20 am

Pressure on teachers and administrators to raise test scores = cheating. Not just in APS. Fix the cause of the problem – unrealistic expectations, poverty, lack of parental support for or value in education.

Dr NO...

March 28th, 2011
10:22 am

“Union officials say the pressure for high test scores may have tempted educators to cheat.”

And those found cheating should be given a pink slip. All this whining and excuse making over Rhee the big ole meany, the monster, the creature from the black lagoon.

In the real world…ya know Private industry…you superior tells you to get it done then you by God get it done. However in the public domain it seems anything goes and goes out the window…NO accountability.

David Sims

March 28th, 2011
10:25 am

Wherever you hear about a school system ‘closing the racial gaps’ in academic achievement, it is only a matter of time before someone discovers the fraud involved. At least, so far there has always been a skunk (of one sort or another) in the woodpile.

In New York City’s public schools, apparent test score gains and racial gap closures that were bragged about before Congress by Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned out to be fraudulent, the result of the same kind of cheating that happened in Atlanta on the CRCT.

In Florida, apparent test score gains and racial gap closures on the NAEP turned out to result from Florida’s policy of flunking a lot of black and Hispanic third-graders, so that they had two years to learn their third-grade lessons and thereby become approximately as prepared to handle the fourth grade as their white classmates (who did not have to repeat the third grade) were.

So here it is again, this time in Washington DC. When are the leftists ever going to learn: there is no “social intervention” and no “teaching reform” that will enable blacks to be as intelligent, and hence as academically proficient, as whites are? (In general, as a rule, statistically speaking.)

Roach

March 28th, 2011
10:30 am

Test scores don’t come from nowhere. Yes, there is some random error in testing, but that are also specific factors which have the greatest effects on test scores. If those factor really do drive test scores, but those factors don’t actually change, then where are test score increases supposed to come from?
“Cheating” is a matter of degree and kind. Isn’t “teaching to the test” a kind of cheating? It is terrific that “No Child Left Behind” insists that all groups must make progress, but it is very sad that the law doesn’t provide the means to make achievement gains happen.
Can we apply the same approach to government that we want to apply in schools. We demand achievement gains, and when we don’t get them, so we fire the school personnel. We want good government, that shows foresight and concern for individual rights, but we get economic crises and fiscal disasters, so logically we should . . .

Witch hunt

March 28th, 2011
10:31 am

Please keep in mind the hard working innocent educators that are used as political pawns in this escapade. Clearly there are bad actors, cheating on tests for their own purposes. However, there are certain elements in the state government that have required school districts to report administrators as having committed ethics violations to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for minor administrative testing issues…some going as far as fabricating charges against innocent educators. This is possibly in the name of protection against charges of racism and singling out Atlanta Public Schools. Regardless of motive, there is a witch hunt mentality that is incredibly unfair and is tarring many innocent educators with the stigma of an ethics investigation. I hope the truth comes out.

Lisa B.

March 28th, 2011
10:38 am

So now what happens when teachers’ actual salaries are based on test scores, which is now the case in many states? Hmmmm.

Dr. John Trotter

March 28th, 2011
10:40 am

I have written a few times even on this blog that the Law of the Law Numbers does not change. (It is constant like the Law of Gravity or the Second Law of Thermodynamics.) It is this same law that allows us to make fairly accurate nationwide predictions in presidential campaigns with only about 400 people in the sample that is polled.

When a superintendent starts talking about raising test scores, this ought to throw up a red flag alarm immediately. Only systematic cheating will cause a large gain in scores across the board. A blip on the screen occasionally but not large gains across the entire student population. I have been saying this for years, but naive, wrestling-fan-type credulity among school board members always fall for these charlatan superintendents (like Beverly Hall and Michelle Rhee). (c) MACE, March 28, 2011.

Schools21

March 28th, 2011
10:50 am

David Sims posted “there is no “social intervention” and no “’teaching reform’ that will enable blacks to be as intelligent, and hence as academically proficient, as whites are?”

Not true. Regardless of what comes out of the DC investigations, one stark fact is true: in schools of poverty (which are high in minority populations), students generally do not receive the same caliber and quality of instruction, year after year, that their counterparts in affluent, predominantly white suburban schools receive.

Without going into all the reasons why accomplished teachers tend to migrate to “better” schools, let’s acknowledge that for students in poverty, the playing field is not level, beginning in kindergarten. I’m not saying that urban, high-poverty schools have no good teachers; I’m pointing out that those teachers are not the norm there, the way they are in affluent districts.

When we reach a day in this nation where every child, in every classroom, every period of the day, every school year, has a truly excellent teacher, then we can determine whether race, socioeconomic status, and other factors limit intelligence and prevent learning. I’m betting that they don’t limit intelligence. External factors can be overcome. Accomplished teachers out-teach the externals. Look at the KIPPs, the Harlem Success Academies, and other urban charters that educate students in poverty.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

March 28th, 2011
10:57 am

Hall personally tried to cover up evidence of the cheating (by withholding the Porter report from her BOE, and deleting it from her files in an attempt to evade the Open Records Act; a crime for which she may soon be prosecuted).

She did everything she could to deny the scandal existed, including instructing her lackey Keith Bromery to play the race card and blame the erasures on “poor (read: black) kids just trying to correct their own mistakes.”

Neither Hall nor Rhee likely had any hand in the cheating itself. But I guarantee you Rhee will not launch a shameful, morally bankrupt, race-based campaign of denial as Hall did. And yet Rhee was ridden out of town, and Hall continues to take our money.

David Sims

March 28th, 2011
11:08 am

Schools21 wrote (in reply to my claim that no social intervention or teaching reform will make black students as academically proficient as white students), “Not true. Regardless of what comes out of the DC investigations, one stark fact is true: in schools of poverty (which are high in minority populations), students generally do not receive the same caliber and quality of instruction, year after year, that their counterparts in affluent, predominantly white suburban schools receive.”

Hello? Were you aware that minority heavy school districts, including Atlanta, are often funded at rates significantly higher than the average for their states? The Georgia state average funding is $9089 per pupil. The funding in the Atlanta school district is $13150 per pupil. There is no lack of money for teachers and for textbooks and for whatever other learning aids might be necessary. And yet the black students, whichever of Atlanta’s schools they happen to be in, don’t measure up to the performance of the white students.

And it isn’t true that children from impoverished families can’t do well, nor that they are especially handicapped in school by their circumstances at home. My family was quite poor. We lived in a trailer in a fenced-off part of someone else’s cow pasture. It was a charity that the farmer chose to do for my father, who was his preacher. Me? My father’s poverty didn’t even slow me down. I had inherited the intelligence to handle my school work, and so I did. Poverty, in this context, is an excuse; it isn’t a reason.

Carpetbagger

March 28th, 2011
11:14 am

Thank god for private schools! Let them eat cake…. they reap what they sow!

Dr. John Trotter

March 28th, 2011
11:15 am

I remember over thirty years ago when one of my UGA professors stated that any superintendent can raise test scores…by simply announcing that this was going to be the focus. How would the test scores rise? He deadpanned that the principals will simply instruct their staff to teach the test, in so many words. A little cheating will take place here and there. Voila! The test scores have risen! Wow…what a terrific superintendent! Let’s give him (or her) a $60,000 bonus for the rise in test scores!

Folks, it’s all phony. All of this test score stuff is like Circus Science. “Ladies and gentlemen, just step right up and purchase your ticket! Behind this curtain, we have a six-eyed, 18-legged superintendent who can perform magic…she can raise the abysmal test scores that currently exist in your school system and which is embarrassing you as school board members! Yes, she can do it! Don’t hesitate! Step right up and purchase your tickets! She graduated, by the way, from the Broad Foundation’s Leadership Academy for Miracle Working Urban Superintendents! She is being currently pimped by search firms like Glenn Brock’s! Yes, Glenn will certify her…like he apparently certified to the Clayton County Board of Education that Chino Valley’s Edmond Heatley was indeed a near “miracle worker.” Yes, step right inside this tent and see this six-eyed and 18-legged superintendent who can raise the standardized test scores of your youth! (c) MACE, March 28, 2011.

Dr NO...

March 28th, 2011
11:15 am

“but it is very sad that the law doesn’t provide the means to make achievement gains happen.”

Thats because one can legislate intelligence or a parent having the intelligence to force their offspring, their precious little treasure, to study.

teacher&mom

March 28th, 2011
11:18 am

LOL… Dr. No…accountability the in private sector. That worked out really well for Enron, Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac….just to name a few. Accountability at its finest :)

Dr NO...

March 28th, 2011
11:18 am

“We want good government, that shows foresight and concern for individual rights, but we get economic crises and fiscal disasters, so logically we should . . .”

Impeach Obama? ; )

Dr NO...

March 28th, 2011
11:19 am

Nice try TM…you are scraping around in the lower < 1% of the barrel. But you wont walk away a loser. We have a years supply of Turtle Wax Car Polish for you. And thanks for playing.

teacher&mom

March 28th, 2011
11:25 am

@Springdale Parent — not so sure Rhee was “noble” in her quick exit from town. While she is no longer on the DC payroll, she’s is working awfully hard to fleece unsuspecting citizens to support her Students First organization. A dollar here, a dollar there….it all adds up.

I predict her annual salary will triple….one of the benefits of operating a “non-profit.”

Independent

March 28th, 2011
11:31 am

“In the real world…ya know Private industry…you superior tells you to get it done then you by God get it done.”

I have been in some of those industries where this was the case – and they resulted in all sorts of cheating. Cooking the books to show gains that weren’t there, putting off maintenance of crucial machinery to post short-term gains, taking safety shortcuts to improve profit temporarily. Yes, it does the same thing in private industry as it does in the public arena – if you tell someone they will be fired if numbers don’t come up, those numbers WILL come up, legitimately or not.

catlady

March 28th, 2011
11:35 am

And, to beat it all, M. Rhee did not “remember accurately” about her own students’ test score increases, either, did she? She claimed much higher scores than actually happened.

When will there be an AJC investigation of those claims on those NC scores?

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

March 28th, 2011
11:43 am

@ T&M: Did you really think Rhee resigned? She was forced out when her patron was ousted from the mayor’s office, a defeat she no doubt helped cause. So nobility has nothing to do with it.

What we’re learning is this: if you tell educators they have to hit a certain number or else they’ll lose their livelihoods, they will behave rationally: some–perhaps even most– will try hard to do it honestly, but if they can’t, many (most?) will cheat rather than face the powerful disincentive of unemployment in an overcrowded profession.

Do I forgive APS’s cheating teachers and admins? Of course not. I want them all fired. But do I understand why they did it? Absolutely.

Ernest

March 28th, 2011
11:46 am

In the real world…ya know Private industry…you superior tells you to get it done then you by God get it done. However in the public domain it seems anything goes and goes out the window…NO accountability.

Dr. NO, I actually agree with you on this. Cheating happens in private industry also when enough pressure is put on someone to perform an almost impossible job/task in an almost impossible time frame. There are many examples in past history on this. I’m also sure you are not naive enough to believe cheating does not occur in private industry.

STOP IT!!!!!

March 28th, 2011
11:48 am

Please STOP comparing charter schools to public schools!!!!!! Charter schools demand accountability from students and PARENTS. My nephew goes to a charter school, and if my sister does not hold up her end of the bargain, he will be kicked out. And where, pray tell, will he end up? Back in public school- where he can not get kicked out if he has a sorry and pathetic parent.

Stop with the false analogy. There is no comparison between charter schools and public schools except they both use public funds.

Inman Park Boy

March 28th, 2011
11:53 am

Eliminate the USDOE, keep control of schools firmly in local hands, outlaw public employee unions, pay teachers a decent salary and hold themn accountable. You wouldn’t need NCLB if you did all that.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

March 28th, 2011
11:54 am

When will Georgia hire competent, disinterested persons to monitor our state-sponsored standardized testing? Why don’t we utilize a testing protocol similar to the one that The College Board follows in administering its stable of tests?

Our teachers and administrators have enough to do without administering our state’s standardized tests.

Dr NO...

March 28th, 2011
11:55 am

Ernest

March 28th, 2011
11:46 am

Agreed…cheating/corruption etc can occur in both public and private industry, however, it seems to run more rampant in the public sector.

sissyuga

March 28th, 2011
12:01 pm

So, will the media latch on to Rhee’s “test gains?” Will the media research this? She is a darling of the media-a take no prisoner reformer because our education system is so “broken.” Will Newsweek put this on the cover like they put her on the cover?

David Sims

March 28th, 2011
12:02 pm

The USA Today article said,
“There can be innocent reasons for multiple erasures. A student can lose his place on the answer sheet, fill in answers on the wrong rows, then change them when he realizes his mistake. And, as McGraw-Hill said in a March 2009 report to D.C. officials, studies also show that test-takers change answers more often when they are encouraged to review their work. The same report emphasizes that educators ’should not draw conclusions about cheating behavior’ from the data alone.”

It is usually obvious when students lose the line on an answer sheet and then correct it upon reviewing their work. For a long string of questions, the erased answers will be the right answer to the next question (down or up). If that isn’t observed, then the cause of the erasures isn’t that the students simply lost their line on the answer sheet.

Carpetbagger

March 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

Vouchers is the only viable answer to a terrible-inferior public elementary education. Throwing “mo money” ain’t gettin’ it done. If cheating was at my daughter’s private school, we would pull her out and they would lose money. That is the way in the real world… competition. Start with the schools… cheating to get ahead and “mo money” (bonuses) produces inferior products. Silver bracelets for the cheating administrators AND teachers with and repayment of the taxpayers’ bonuses! Stop the madness and wake up!

Texas Pete

March 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

The answer is obviously to privatize education so that cheating can be properly hidden.

Roach

March 28th, 2011
12:13 pm

A good superintendent can do a better job of creating conditions for student success. No, there isn’t an “improve achievement” button hidden somewhere in our school systems, which administrators perversely refuse to press until forced to do so by our heroic legislators. You have to make a lot of changes, including changes in culture and atmosphere which are very hard to measure, in order to create the potential for improvement. Money makes some changes easier. When alegislature persistently and unconstitutionally underfunds our schools, and then demands improved results, that’s just nuts.
A poor superintendent feathers their own nest and hides behind a phalanx of sycophants who recognize that they themselves have no paycheck without their patron.

Nemesis

March 28th, 2011
12:24 pm

As long as you have parents who do not believe that good education for their children is as important as buying a flat screen TV. (most put more effort into working toward that TV than toward making sure their kids know the importance of education.) Then it matters know if a teacher teaches the test or knowledge that will educate the students. It goes back to the parents, if a teacher teaches the test and most of the students still fail the test. Kid develop their attitude towards education from their parents. Almost forty years ago was the first time I lived in the true South. We were stationed in Meridian Mississippi. The one thing that really impressed me about the blacks of that time was how important the parents felt that their kids get a quality education. They made sure that they studied and worked hard towards that goal. Now their kids and grand kids have forgotten the lessons their forefathers tried to teach them. I find it disturbing that some of them are becoming more illiterate than the slaves they descended from. What happened and why did it happen?
So until the parents get involved again I guess that the schools will use any means available to make sure their paychecks keep coming in. Honest or not.

Patrick

March 28th, 2011
12:31 pm

David Sims – It’s quite ironic that you’re actually showing your ignorance on this blog.

td

March 28th, 2011
12:33 pm

David Sims

March 28th, 2011
11:08 am

“When are the leftists ever going to learn: there is no “social intervention” and no “teaching reform” that will enable blacks to be as intelligent, and hence as academically proficient, as whites are? (In general, as a rule, statistically speaking.)”

Let us make sure we are on the same page. You also believe the above is true for the gap between Whites and Asians?

Hall Boy

March 28th, 2011
12:38 pm

So Trotter – are you saying that the 27% raise in the graduation rate at our high school 2 years ago was impossible?

Pluto

March 28th, 2011
12:38 pm

Since the adoption of NCLB, I have argued with colleagues that this law fails to recognize individual differences in intelligence and other attributes necessary for test taking. There is a real thing called a normal distribution and no manner of denial will change that. We can’t all be like they are at Lake Woobeegone, good looking and above average.

SALLYB

March 28th, 2011
12:41 pm

@schools21: Re ” Look at the KIPPs, the Harlem Success Academies, and other urban charters that educate students in poverty.”
There are more variables here than just good teachers. These professionals have the freedom to make their own rules about conduct, inside AND outside of school, academic as well as behavioral.

OH…and re: “…every child, in every classroom, every period of the day, every school year, has a truly excellent teacher…” Do you know ANY profession in which every person, every day, every year gives an excellent performance? Great idea, but Utopian concept.

Independent

March 28th, 2011
12:43 pm

are you saying that the 27% raise in the graduation rate at our high school 2 years ago was impossible?

If you give diplomas to everyone without effective graduation testing, you can get as many as you want. Did all those 27% increase pass graduation testing done by an independent agency?

SALLYB

March 28th, 2011
12:44 pm

@ HallBoy…..Probably not impossible ,but , shall we say, adjusted? Meaning that inflated grades can accomplish a lot of “impossible” things.

Independent

March 28th, 2011
12:46 pm

Yeah, private schools are the answer – just require them to take any student that applies at the average cost Atlanta pays, and they can’t kick them out for any reason. See how the private schools do.

SALLYB

March 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Are we overlooking something here? Or is the Bell Curve concept out of favor ? Must have been replaced by all the money to be made….both over and under the table.. on CURES DU JOUR !

ID-10-T Error

March 28th, 2011
12:55 pm

@Schools21
Why is your solution always teacher-centered? It’s the clientele that is the problem. And don’t use the Harlem Success Academies as an example. That program has concerned parents who push their kids to succeed. You don’t see that support or interest in thugged-out schools.

SALLYB

March 28th, 2011
12:57 pm

Why would any private school agree to lose the freedom they have to IQ test and acheivement test prospective students before admission to make sure they are up to their standards?

Most private schools charge $15000.00 and up just for the lower grades, and they have long waiting lists, usually 10 or more applicants for each vacant seat.

Can’t you just see brand new private schools popping up everywhere to get a piece of the Voucher Pot???

Teacher&Mom

March 28th, 2011
1:01 pm

Interesting article that addresses standardized test prep focused schools,charters, politics, school choice, competition, etc:

ihttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28winerip.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=education

Teacher&Mom

March 28th, 2011
1:02 pm

sloboffthestreet

March 28th, 2011
1:11 pm

Racial gap, parents are not college grads, lack of parent participation,,,,,,,, Someone please explain how Cobb County has a High School with an enrollment makeup of @ 50% minority students. The % of students that receive free or reduced price lunch indicate there is need for financial assistance for many households in the district. The High School graduation % is one of the best in the state. The real test is comparing how many Seniors took the SAT vs the total number of Seniors attending the school. This school has one of the highest SAT averages in the state along with one of the highest %’s of Senior participation taking the SAT. The point is if this school can achieve at this level, what is the problem with many of the other schools/ systems in the state of Georgia. Also, this wasn’t a one time thing. This school consistently performs at a very high level.You don’t see them with a Governors Cup Award because they play by the book instead of cooking them!! As to NCLB, here we are in year 9 and the failure seems to be with the entire education hierarchy. The idea was for educators and administrators along with Boards of Education, state and local to realize they were not doing something right and they were given 12 years to correct their failures. Well it seems everyone had their own idea which amounted to no idea and now that they have failed for 9 years and performance is expected they run screaming something about the sky falling. What is it they call it when you keep repeating the same mistakes and expect to get different results??? Anyone???

ScienceTeacher671

March 28th, 2011
1:11 pm

So far as I’ve been able to tell, the schools that are most successful with “at-risk” populations combine stricter discipline, longer school days/years, and frequently smaller classes, along with much drill and practice, especially in elementary years.

Most of those things either aren’t allowed, aren’t affordable, or are out of fashion in public schools today.

Dr. John Trotter

March 28th, 2011
1:12 pm

@ Hall Boy: There was cheating going on! Ha! Or, for some reason, the school system replaced your entire student body in one year! Systematic Cheating. Yes. Note that I am not capitalizing the words, “Systematic Cheating.” In my view, it has become a proper — uh, well improper — noun.

Dr. John Trotter

March 28th, 2011
1:21 pm

@ Science Teacher 671: You are right on target: It is strict discipline and drills. Yes, rote memory! Drills, drills, and drills, but most of all, strict discipline. These are indeed practices which work, but practices which are not in vogue among our educrats who are as worthless as teats on a wild boar.