Hall County: Are students being routed to alternative school to improve grad rates?

A longtime poster here has been asking for quite a while that the AJC look at transfer policies in Hall County high schools. The poster alleges that unusual number of high school students transferred at the end of their senior years was a  ploy to improve the system’s graduation rate.

The AJC’s Heather Vogell has looked at Hall transfers and she describes a “curious game of musical chairs” in the final days of high school.

(Vogell is part of the AJC  investigative team that wrote the original stories questioning improbable CRCT score swings. Those AJC reports led to the state audit and now to the state investigation.)

Please read the entire story as there is lots  to consider. The link here will take you to the full story:

According to the AJC:

On those days, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of state data found, at least 94 students transferred at the last minute out of their traditional high schools and into the district’s Lanier Career Academy, a school with special programs for struggling students.

The seniors took with them an academic millstone that could have been a liability for their former schools: Each had earned a certificate of performance instead of a diploma. Only regular diplomas boost graduation rates, which have become a key measure of schools’ success.

The fact that the transfers may have helped some high schools meet federal academic standards has led some to ask whether the schools were simply manipulating the state’s accountability system. On one local blog, a poster wrote that some students felt “bullied” into transferring.

“One student was even told one month before graduation that they would not be able to graduate with their class. This is wrong!” the poster wrote, saying students were told they made their school “look bad.”

The district defends the transfers as a way to help hard-to-reach students. Seniors who change schools, officials said, can participate in graduation ceremonies at either their original school or at Lanier.

Hall, a northeast Georgia district of nearly 26,000 students, isn’t the first school system to face accusations of roster manipulation. In other districts across Georgia and the country, federal and state accountability rules have spawned creative attempts to make the numbers, some of which have involved strategically shuffling students around like pawns on a chessboard. The goal: to show “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP.

“Any time when you put such a complicated ball game together like AYP, it just opens the doors for lots of interpretations,” said Kathleen Mathers, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Mathers said her office plans to look this fall at whether districts are misusing state codes related to transferring students. Manipulating the codes can reduce the reported dropouts while artificially raising graduation rates. She said that from what she knows, however, Hall County does not appear to have broken such rules.

An email written in May 2009 by the former principal of Hall’s career academy, which later appeared on local blogs, has incited critics.

“It’s time to look at whether you want to transfer any of your COPs to LCA to improve your graduation rate,” the email to administrators at traditional high schools said. “We’ll be glad to do that for you again if you want us to.”

The plan, according to the email: unenroll students from their schools May 20, re-enroll them in Lanier academy May 21 and graduate them May 22.

By 2010, the flow of May certificate of performance transfers to Lanier had dwindled from dozens to 15. But talk of the moves continued, leaving the district’s superintendent, a close ally of new state Superintendent John Barge, vigorously justifying them.

Superintendent Will Schofield said the vast majority of transfers have been voluntary. District officials sent students to Lanier despite the fact that spring classes were wrapping up, hoping they would take summer courses or pursue GEDs there, he said. Forty eventually earned diplomas, he said.

“It’s not gaming the system,” he said. “We don’t have the financial resources to offer at all our traditional high schools the kinds of programs that we offer at the LCA.”

Barge said Friday that the state will look at Hall’s student data for this school year when it becomes available in July. The state has not performed an analysis similar to the AJC’s for prior years.

Barge said that so far he has been satisfied with explanations from the district. “It’s not like we’re not aware of the situation,” he said. “Based on the information that we have right now from the school system, we’ve not seen any reason for alarm.”

State databases show an unmistakable flow of students from other county schools to Lanier in the waning hours of the 2008 and 2009 spring semesters.

In 2008, three dozen students transferred on May 21 to Lanier. The next year, 43 did so on May 20.

A handful of districts statewide transferred two or three students on a single day in late May during the past three years, data shows, but none came close to moving the number Hall did.

Schofield, the superintendent, said the transfers would have no effect on the district’s graduation rate, which is calculated by counting all graduates. The numbers of transfers, several Hall principals said, were likely also too small to affect the rate for any particular school.

No Child Left Behind, however, mandates that schools calculate more than the overall graduation rate. It requires schools to figure the rate for subgroups of students larger than 40, such as those who are economically disadvantaged or Hispanic.

Because they include just a few dozen, not hundreds, of students, the graduation rates for those subgroups fluctuate more readily.

Missed subgroup targets can cause a school to fail to make AYP in some cases, if students are also struggling academically.

More than half the Lanier transfers — 56 out of 94 — were Hispanic, records show, and likely would have at least dragged down the subgroup’s graduation rate in their schools.

The 2010 census reports 26 percent of Hall County’s 180,000 residents are Hispanic.

State Education Department data reviewed by the AJC does not reveal where the Lanier transfers originated. But blog posts mention Chestatee High, where the graduation rate rose 25 percentage points in three years.

Chestatee principal Chip Underwood said it has comfortably made AYP in recent years and was not in danger of failing. In 2010, it graduated about 200 students. He praised Lanier academy for offering options to those who weren’t on track to earn diplomas.

“We should have done a better job of locating that child earlier in the year where he was not going to be successful,” he said of the late transfers.

The school doesn’t have many, if any, last-minute transfers this year, he said.

East Hall High School principal Jeff Cooper said the transfers were made with the students’ best interests in mind, though a slightly better graduation rate may have been a side benefit.

“I’ve seen a very minimal effect here in my school,” he said, adding that the school may have sent seven or eight transfers to Lanier in a year.

Schofield said the former principal of Lanier “feels terrible” about the email about raising graduation rates for traditional schools.

“All I can say is that was extremely poorly worded,” he said. “The reason students go to the career academy is that they have more opportunities and resources there.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

102 comments Add your comment

Ole Guy

May 15th, 2011
10:42 am

As long as the educational elites continue to play these games in the simple interest of image polishing, absolutely nothing will change; while careers will shine due to favorable, though artificial statistics, overall student achievements will drop to 3rd world status. It’s bad enough that grade inflation has made a mockery of the HOPE program, and of the true value of a high school education. Now the entire educational cesspool has yet another reason to be another waste of tax monies.

When are the educational shysters going to be held accountable for this shtick?

Dr. John Trotter

May 15th, 2011
11:22 am

I am glad that the AJC is looking into this situation in Hall County. I have been hearing the same complaints, no doubt, by the same poster whose name I will no mention, although she probably would not mind. Ha! The Hall County Administration certainly knows who she is. She has been dogged on this issue, and I think that she is onto something. These little games about testing are probably played out all over Georgia, but most egregiously in Hall County.

Hall Guy

May 15th, 2011
11:32 am

John, your she is a he and was a tv star Friday evening. Early Sunday article showed that of these 94 students moving over several years, 40 eventually earned Georgia diplomas from the Academy. That looks like a pretty good rate to me for kids that had not been able to make it and would have gone off in to life with no options. Crook around every corner though, eh?


May 15th, 2011
11:38 am

Thank you for looking into this! The spin on this from Hall County has been incredible. Schofield sent out 2 preemptive emails before this came out over this using district email accounts and the county parent line system.

It is horrible the way Jones has been thrown under the bus for following what Blakley admitted was county policy regarding what he was to do. Jones didn’t just make that up on his own. Have to wonder if his job has been threatened over this.

Minimal effect?

East Hall made AYP for the first time the first year they did this and gained 29 percent points to their graduation rate since then.

Johnson High raised their grad rate by 24 percent points. West Hall by 19 points. North Hall by 14 points and Chstatee by 25 points.

Flowery branch High raised by 8 points which is in line with the State average of 8.5. That school didn’t seem to participate in this mess.

Someone show me any other schools in the State or elsewhere with those kind of increases! Why weren’t these schools heralded all over the state?

Also need to point out that the I sent questions to GOSA about this quite awhile ago along with Jones’ memo and got no response. I also sent it to the DOE and got back a canned email response and no follow up.

Covering up for friends? Ignore it first, soft-pedal spin now.

To Barge: of course this year’s data isn’t going to incriminate anyone. It is in the open now and won’t be done. How stupid do you think people are?

Explain how what Hall did is any different from transferring students before the CRCT before they fail it in order to keep them from causing the school to not make AYP.

Thanks for shining some light in this dark place. Keep after it!


May 15th, 2011
11:56 am

I think this is much more widespread. Ask Heather to investigate other counties’ programs.


May 15th, 2011
12:10 pm

I agree with what Trotter and Catlady say about it going on elsewhere. It just seems like Hall County has a ton more protection and colusion from the state powers that be.


May 15th, 2011
12:12 pm

Rule of thumb: When data seem to indicate miraculous improvement in human being performance, or folks make claims of miraculous improvement, you can be pretty sure some data have been “massaged” creatively. The examples are numerous, yet the media continue to tout these miracles and the “saviors” that performed them.


May 15th, 2011
12:13 pm

I just pulled up the numbers from the DOE website for Hall. Mike continues to claim these guys just play with numbers to make themselves look better. From 2008 to 2011 Hall went from graduating 1232 students to graduating 1412. That seems like a bit more than more than rearranging numbers for some system benefit and some people might even think it is rather positive progress. 15 percent more kids leaving high school with a diploma in their hands, 180 more per year! You reference “East Hall High making AYP for the first time” during this time? Once again, this doesn’t look like an accurate statement based upon DOE information. Looks to me like DOE reports they have made AYP before. Mr. Jones being “thrown under the bus”,it’s pretty obvious who did that, and it wasn’t his district.


May 15th, 2011
12:15 pm

Jase, who is Mr. Shofield’s BF? I think even neighbor?


May 15th, 2011
12:29 pm

You want to stop this type of thing? Simple, most schools are on a semester system. For the student to not count at a school, they must transfer before the first day of their last sememster as a senior. Any transfers after that day, count towards the transfered FROM school, not the transfered TO school. Or, since the administration knows which students are in trouble, maybe the transfer should be BEFORE the start of their Senior year? But waiting until 2 days before graduation IS gaming the system and needs to be stopped!!!!


May 15th, 2011
12:35 pm

Look at all the counties that have Ombudsman programs. Ombudman grants an out of state diploma, so the GHSGT isn’t required. Take all the seniors who haven’t passed the GHSGT after the 5th try, transfer them to Ombudsman, and VOILA! Dropouts become graduates!


May 15th, 2011
12:36 pm


May 15th, 2011
12:40 pm

This is the same county that according to the state audit site paid a “substitute teacher” over $100,000.


May 15th, 2011
1:00 pm

And paid the Superintendent’s best principal friend an extra 20 thousand dollars on top of his salary to drive to work everyday in violation of state regulations a few years back. Auditors caught that also.

Dr. John Trotter

May 15th, 2011
1:14 pm

@ “Hall Guy’”: A woman from Hall County (along with her husband) brought me this info three or four years ago. I don’t know about who was on TV Friday, but a woman brought the same info to me. About Lanier Academy and so forth. She has been dogged. Good. I am glad that the AJC has helped her in exposing this. At MACE, we are not really investigative reporters and do not have the resources to chase down leads about improprieties going on in a school system. We protect and empower teachers…one member at a time.

Chime Poe

May 15th, 2011
1:18 pm

I can assure you that under-performing subgroups “drag down” not only the subgroup’s graduation rate BUT ALSO the school’s graduation rate. All subgroup’s are calculated as part the whole for purposes of determining AYP. I can also assure you that plenty of schools miss targets by 4, 3, 2, or even just 1 student. You better believe that they know EXACTLY what they are doing when they transfer a certain number of students out! The article said “More than half the Lanier transfers — 56 out of 94 — were Hispanic, records show, and likely would have at least dragged down the subgroup’s graduation rate in their schools.” In fact, not only would it have dragged down the subgroup rate and the whole group rate, it would drag down the graduation rate of any other subgroup of which the student is a member. For example, many members of minority subgroups are also members to the Economically Disadvantaged subgroup.


May 15th, 2011
1:28 pm

If a student who is suppose to be a senior is doing poorly and failing, how is this person a senior in high-school? Shouldn’t somebody in authority have stepped in before it progress this far? Receiving a diploma and actually putting four years of hard work to graduate is completely different. What responsibility falls on the student? Does this really help the student or increase graduation rates? This is all boils down to hook by crook….Hall County should be proud, because I’m sure their tax-payers aren’t! No wonder education in Georgia is a joke when you have the DOE making assinine policies of this magnitude. Is this what you call lead by example?


May 15th, 2011
1:35 pm

Jase: Kind of a triumvirate, huh?


May 15th, 2011
1:37 pm

Is it just me or does anyone see that cheating in any form has been going on all over the world not just in APS.

What really concerns me is that the cheating does not help the reality of educating our students. Yet, I do think that homogenous grouping needs to be placed back into schools. It does increase score if done the right and honest way. As a current classroom teacher it allows the teacher to focus in one area instead of multiple areas to help students acheive. It is very hard when you have 10 on level students, 5 above level and 5 below level. The 5 below leve are truly left behind if the teacher is focused on making test score successful. The teacher cannot focus properly if at all on the low students. If grouping were placed back in schools based upon student honest acheivement and not race, creed, color or orgin it will improve the academic success of all students.

It just came to mind that perhaps this maybe one reason that the DON”T KNOWS out there may perceive what they call being a bad teacher. And, if they did not know that grouping has been against the educational law. There is so much fight going on now to place special education students in regular classrooms and for people who truly don’t understand or teach in the regular ed classrooms understand what presents a problem. There is not one teacher in the regular ed classroom (or at least I hope not) that has any ill feelings toward special ed students however, 99% of us a not trained
to handle both types of classrooms and students.

Now before I am attacked about my views and opinion. Please ask yourself can you honestly handle both types of students equally and honestly provide success to all. The parents who are fighting for this as well as the teachers are not being honest with themselves or doing what is in the best interest of others. I will even go as far to say that the individual parent is having a hard time as well as the individual teacher with a para to assist. It is very hard and the paper work for special teachers is great. I would go as far to say inclusion gives them the needed breaks to do their paperwork. They are not who goes into the classrooms with the inclusion students it is the para in 99% of the cases or the teacher finds a reason to get out of coming to the class most of the time.

Again, as I have asked and have not still gotten a response or takers to come and volunteer to do my and other teachers job and we/I promise you will shut your mouth. You will never call any of us bad teachers again. Oh, by the way there are no perfect people therefore, there are no perfect teachers.


May 15th, 2011
1:41 pm

I think the public is pretty ignorant regarding the kids in question.
These children are not the victims of a bad system.
They come to high school ill-prepared for high school. Teachers are forced “to dumb it down”, teach to the test and let them re-test or come up with more assignments so they will pass.
Last week’s AJC had an article stating that those kids who do make it to college have been spoon-fed. YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!! They are.
So, here are the ones who won’t even take the spoon-fed education. They are 17 or 18 with 2 or 3 units to graduate out of a possible 25 or so.
They are burned out and not interested, no matter how the material is presented ( pencil and pen, internet course, creative assignmment)
What are schools going to do?
Leave them in there and the taxpayers scream that the system has low grad rates. Send to a viable option and everyone cries foul.
Suddenly, the kids who have had no support have the support of you bleeding hearts who have no clue what it is really like in the public classroom today.


May 15th, 2011
1:44 pm


You are so very right. However, this all goes to how political education really is and how education is not at all about educating students. It is about what looks good on paper and how far those charge can stick out their chest to brag. What tickles me is that these are the people who take all of the credit and really did not one single thing to assist with student acheivement or success.


May 15th, 2011
1:52 pm


My computer was acting crazy-to finish my remarks.

There is not one administrator that has been successful without the teachers. We as the teachers can make the principals look great, good, bad, or indifferent. We are the driving force behind all that happens in the school. I have seen so many principals come into schools with the idea that they are going to make schools better and come in threatening teachers, etc. and what really happens is that even if the teachers are afraid for their jobs they still don’t perform successful as they could.

I really want to put this out there for many many reasons. Prinicpals you DO NOT make the teachers they MAKE YOU. If you think that you can bully them because you are the boss look around again WHAT GOES AROUND WILL INFACT COME BACK AROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


May 15th, 2011
1:53 pm

So they earn a certificate of performance for not performing? Sounds confusing…..they haven’t perform well enough to receive a diploma, so whats the purpose?


May 15th, 2011
2:04 pm

@Angela, you are so right most students praise the teachers and not the Principal. For example…saw Jeopardy last week it was call “Teachers Week” there summed it up in a nut-shell. It’s seems ironic how administrator let the ordinary teacher be the fall-guy, for their poor-judgement. 36 years later I remember some of my instructors but, alas none of the Principals.


May 15th, 2011
2:27 pm

Ashley, I think it is a certificate of participation.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

May 15th, 2011
2:59 pm

We let teachers, principals and other educators generate and submit data which will be used to determine their public perceptions and their employment futures. We allow them to do so without subjecting their data-generation and -reporting processes to audits by competent, disinterested, out-of-state agencies. That we haven’t had more instances of cheating is a testament to the professional integrity of the majority of our teachers, principals and other educators.


May 15th, 2011
3:26 pm

@Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

You speak of integrity might I ask what is your profession? Also, you speak of handing data to outside agencies. What makes you think that they have so much integrity. Let me just tell you something I know for a fact. The Gace reporting system that only allows so many people at one time to pass. They also, have 3 sets of scoring methods. This is done for the reason if all persons taking the test pass they will not make any money. But, by having people who don’t pass return at 50.00 or above makes them tons and tons of money.

Now I ask you where is the integrity in that?

Atlanta mom

May 15th, 2011
3:32 pm

Wasn’t is a Hall County HS our previous governor went to last year to celebrate the outstanding graduation rate? Oh well.

Test dummies

May 15th, 2011
3:38 pm

I would like to ask all the educators out there–does it appear to you that we demand more from students in the elementary schools than we do from high school students. I think we start watering it down in middle school and it goes downhill from there. We start begging them to bring a pencil or their book to class, then every Spring, we beg them to do their best on a test so that it won’t reflect badly on the teacher/school.system. That is the model we have been given to work with, but it does not educate students to become independent thinkers with problem-solving skills. Your thoughts?

Ole Guy

May 15th, 2011
3:53 pm

Hall Guy, maybe I’m reading too much into your remark, but it would appear that you actually support this “academy” business. Do you honestly believe that the (lucky) 40 students who…EARNED?!?…a diploma represents a “good” rate? I don’t care if there’s a 100% rate of “success” at this “last-chance-saloon” of an excuse for an educational institution. This “academy” tag appears to be simply another psuedo-enhancement of the sorry state to which education has been allowed to deteriorate. Armed with a “diploma”, these people will, for the few moments it takes to walk across the stage, believe they have actually succeeded at something, only to face the hard truth that, without some sort of post-high school training/education, their diploma holds the same value as that cylindrical roll of parchment over by the throne.

Rather than reward both mediocrity and sub-mediocrity, Georgia schools should have the political spheroids to actually fail kids who do not/cannot/will not meet minimum standards of basic academic proficiency. To do otherwise is, perhaps, one of the cruelest forms of appeasment which Georgia can impose upon a generation which is supposed to face the 21st Century with a modicum of preparation.


May 15th, 2011
4:01 pm

@Test dummies

I love your question. Please allow me to be the first to answer your question as an elementary second grade classroom teacher. I specify second grade classroom teacher because not all certified are classroom teachers they are speciality program teachers such as special education, REP, IEP, etc. teachers and are not bound to any one classroom long term daily.

No, we DO NOT expect more from our elementary students than we do of the middle and high schoolers. The first and for most reason that they have and exhibit this behavior is poor parenting. The second reason is that we pamper and cuddle elementary students and excuse their behavior because they are younger. Therefore, when reaching middle and high school this behavior is embedded and literally impossible to change. We allow parents at all ages make excuses for their child’s behavior and because they pay taxes we give them what they want.

These parents and the rest of us will still have to pay taxes regardless of being pro-active instead of re-active. We all will still have to pay taxes even if we make parent responsible for their child’s behavior. We all will still have to pay taxes the rest of our lives no matter what. We are the only country that allows parents to run the educational system and those who don’t have a clue.

No, neither do we teach our students to become independent critical thinker or problem-solvers because we spend 99.9% of our day dealing with disruptive students, crazy parents, those who think they really know what the problem is in education and not to mention just the plan ole ignorant to education, life and anything else that is needed to make us live positive production lives as citizens.

bob leblah

May 15th, 2011
4:11 pm

A certificate of participation? What in the world? Please don’t tell me we are giving students certs of participation if they fail? YAWWWWN.. never ceases to amaze me.


May 15th, 2011
4:23 pm

@bob leblah

Sooooooooooooooooooo, I gather you have no childrenor relatives that have graduated high school ohhhhhh in say the last 10-15 years.

Lt Dan

May 15th, 2011
4:51 pm

Angela, I am not alltogether sure just what you mean by stating that…because parents pay taxes, you give them what they want. We also pay road taxes, however, this does not allow us to operate our cars in any manner we wish. We must, UNDER PAIN OF CONSEQUENCE, follow the rules.

I believe what you meant to imply (and forgive me if I appear to steal your thunder) was that the powers that be, from the legislature to the school principal (and all stops in between) are too weak, timid, and foolish to do the right things. Just like the parent whose kid pisses and whines until mommy relents and lets the kid stuff cheeks with candy, these people are simply avoiding any and all possibilities of having to deal with the “unhappy children” who pretend to be parents. Inasmuch as these very adults are, themselves, products of the poisonous diploma sweepstakes which pose as the Georgia school systems, all you (those charged with the responsibility of preping kids for life) are doing is perpetuating the slippery slope of generational failure.

Down through the ages, there has always been some rate of failure to graduate, failure to make it in life/failure to amount to anything. This is one of the sad realities with which we, society, must contend. All this educational posturing will simply solidify and entrench that sub-group of life’s non-achievers…life’s losers. Meanwhile, all we’re doing is kidding ourselves into believing that we’re actually helping these kids.

Life’s a one-shot proposition; if these kids cannot/refuse to catch the train before it leaves the station, they’re in for a long long walk. All we can do is allow the weak to fall by the wayside, while the strong will have to struggle just that much more.


May 15th, 2011
5:10 pm

@Lt Dan

You have a good point and yes you did state my words of intent clearly. However, I would like to think that we as a people, community, nation, etc. would like to make a better effort to start doing the right thing rather than what we do already. We make things look good which is the worst thing that we can do. I do not relish the thought that those who want to learn should get on board and those that don’t let the train leave them however, that is a practice that hurts us all. As you say the strong must struggle more. Sad to think, feel and see but is a fact. As I was once told by a principal (former) “we can only save those that want to be saved” and “we can only teach what they send us, which is the best that they gave birth to.”


May 15th, 2011
5:11 pm

I’ve heard the assurances of the powers that be, and I still smell a rat. Career Academies are not supposed to be just for those who are at-risk, and branding them as such severely limits their ability to reach all students in the attendance zone. All graduates these days need technical skills and work ethic. A shell game is counter to the vision and mission of the rest of the charter academies in Georgia.


May 15th, 2011
5:12 pm

SB 161, which the Governor just signed, will create (among other things) a certification process for charter career academies. I hope those who are developing that certificate make sure that the academies will be independent of district-mandated late semester transfers and other cahoots.


May 15th, 2011
5:56 pm

If a high school senior “earns” a grade in the neighborhood of 60-69 the teacher will be encouraged to pass the student. It helps AYP, gets the student out of the system, and makes the school and the teacher look good.


May 15th, 2011
6:00 pm

You teachers talk all the time about removing non-performing kids (due to, according to you, ENTIRELY lack of parenting). So when they ARE removed, you cry foul?

Now I grant you that removing them 2 days before graduation is fishy.


May 15th, 2011
6:11 pm


Correction sugar lump we DO NOT cry foul we just state the facts that the general public has NO KNOWLEDGE OF!


May 15th, 2011
6:39 pm

Dr. Barge,
This moment will define you. It will also define your administration.

It is clear that specific Hall County High Schools followed a plan to transfer students who were not earning a high school diploma to Lanier Academy so that one school could take the negative hit and the graduation rates for most schools would appear higher. The e-mail from the former principal of Lanier Academy gave specific directions and the other principals followed. “It’s time to look at whether you want to transfer any of your COPs to LCA to improve your graduation rate.” If that principal misspoke, then I ask for a copy of the e-mail from the Superintendent or the other principals that clearly rebuked that principals for his directive. I would assume that e-mail does not exist.

Dr. Barge, I ask you to make a public statement that this type of manipulation, at the expense of students, is not acceptable and clearly not the intent of the No Child Left Behind legislation. In fact, I suggest that you refer the matter to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and ask that they complete a thorough investigation into the matter. It is your obligation to report it and the PSC’s obligation to investigate it.

As our state’s highest education official, it is critical that you show the GDOE personnel, school districts, and families that you will operate with the highest ethical standards and that you will advocate for all students across the state. With the widespread test tampering and numerous stories about educators making unethical decisions, we must rely on you to set a high professional standard for all of Georgia’s educators. If you fail to do this, GDOE personnel will implement what you preach. They will cut corners and manipulate data, just as you have supported. What will you do next year, when dozens of school districts take this approach? Will you support it then?

Nothing is more difficult as a leader than to recognize an ethical lapse in a colleague or friend. It will make you unpopular and you will lose relationships. But, it must be done. It takes real courage and stellar leadership.

You have two very clear and distinct choices. You can align yourself with unethical behavior and protect your colleagues or you can set yourself apart as the ethical educational leader of this state.

Either way, this moment will define you.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

May 15th, 2011
7:00 pm



But I’d prefer an investigation of this matter by an agency outside the GA educracy. Would either the FBI or the USDOE IG have jurisdiction in this matter?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

May 15th, 2011
7:04 pm

By the way, Dr. Barge’s e-mail address is: state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.us.


May 15th, 2011
7:29 pm

@Maureen. What is your take on the Richard Belcher part of the story?

Blue Bird

May 15th, 2011
7:39 pm

“Mathers said her office plans to look this fall at whether districts are misusing state codes related to transferring students.”

Yeah. Maybe we should also look into the ugly rumor that some people cheat on their taxes.

No Child put educators’ livelihoods on the line, so of course they’re going to game the system. It’s just another unintended consequence of a government social engineering scheme.


May 15th, 2011
7:54 pm

Clue – This is done in every school system in Georgia. Seriously, does anyone really think that ONLY Hall County does it?

Is it right? Of course not. But when stupid Georgia puts ridiculous laws and measurements in place, you MUST expect this sort of thing!

Just wait until the merit pay for teachers kicks in – we are gonna certainly see some musical chairs WITHIN the school!

Lt Dan

May 15th, 2011
8:06 pm

Thanks for your comments, Angela. One of the worse pieces of legislation to ever come out of Washington is the Boy Bushe’s NCLB. One of the first things the apple picker does is remove the bad apples from the apple community. To bypass this step only places the rest of the apples in peril. As cruel and insensitive as it may seem, the first two years of high school should be viewed as an “elimination contest” of sorts. Those kids who, by the 10th grade, have clearly demonstrated the non-likelyhood of success should be deemed ineligible for further tax-supported education. This “at risk” business has become yet another of far far too many second chances which has all but rendered the value of a high school diploma moot at best.

Like it or not, our economy will always require a labor pool of sub-achievers. Somebody will always have to do the stuff/the so-called dirty jobs which are, nonetheless, a component of contemporary life. By placing kids, who demonstrate the propensity toward sub-achievement, in “academys”, all we do is provide, at great public expense, psuedo-achievement, false hopes, and social disappointment. Are there better ways in achieving socially-acceptable outcomes/in salvaging what more-than-likely would be lost human potential? I truly believe there COULD be, however, the demons of political correctness all-but forbid such actions. Throughout the pages of this fine blog topic,we’ve discussed these measures in finite detail. Anyone who truly cares can recite these details: teacher authority, outside influences on the classroom, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Yet, like the drunken aunt, whose embarrasing antics at family gatherings provides fodder for whispered discussion, no one dares venture outside the walls of anonimity lest aunty become irritated. It is not until dear ole aunty meets her demise when everyone points accusatory fingers. Well, folks, by then, it really won’t matter who or what killed aunty…aunty’s gone, and so will a generation or two if some people don’t start facing hard reality.


May 15th, 2011
8:19 pm

Reality and Lt Dan, you are right. NCLB has forced schools to take these measures. Are they right? No, but when a student who cannot read has been pushed through to high school, what should the school do? The entire school risks being labeled due to the few students in a subgroup who may not be able to graduate.

When the Waltons, and North Fulton high schools fail to make AYP in a few years then perhaps we will see some changes. Until then, the schools full of high risk students will continue to fail or try to manipulate their way around the system.


May 15th, 2011
8:34 pm

This type of manipulation is exactly what prevents the real reform we need in education right now. As long as school systems and educational leaders resort to these types of tactics to “outsmart” the system, the system will never be changed. Playing games like this only hides the fact that the system is broken.

Veteran teacher, 2

May 15th, 2011
8:37 pm

I say again: Please let us teach!