In their report now online at the AJC, the investigators into APS cheating name nearly 180 educators, including more than three dozen principals, as participants in cheating on state curriculum tests, according to the AJC.
(When Atlanta schools did its own investigation into the cheating, it sent the names of 110 employees to the state for suspected cheating. I would be curious to see if those 110 names are among the 180 that this investigation cites.)
The final report is expected to be released today, and this new story is based on interviews that AJC reporters had with officials who have already seen it over the weekend.
The news story does not explain exactly what the 180 educators did, but I am most interested in the roles of the 36 principals . I assume that most of the 144 employees are also school-level employees.
It appears that the report’s theme is that while school chief Beverly Hall did not order the cheating, the investigators feel it was widespread enough that she should have known it was occurring in her schools.
And when she did know — through the AJC initial reporting and the state audit — she chose to deny the extent of the problem and did not cooperate with investigatory team assembled by an exasperated Gov. Sonny Perdue. The report criticizes the central office staff for failing to pursue the cheating, obstructing the governor’s probe and withholding information.
I am most interested in reading accounts of how the cheating occurred.
The findings suggest the national accolades that Hall and the school system have collected — and the much-vaunted academic progress for which she claimed credit — were based on falsehoods. Raising test scores apparently became a higher priority than conducting the district’s business in an ethical manner.
Officials who have seen the report briefed the AJC on its contents before the document’s release. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.
The report’s release culminates more than two years of inquiries into Atlanta’s huge gains on the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 2009. An AJC analysis first detected statistically improbable increases in test scores at two Atlanta schools in 2008. The following year, the AJC published another analysis that found suspicious score changes on the 2009 CRCT at a dozen Atlanta schools. The newspaper’s reporting ultimately led to the state investigation that is being released today.
The investigators’ report, officials said, depicts a culture that rewarded cheaters, punished whistle-blowers and covered up improprieties. Strongly contradicting denials of cheating and other irregularities by Hall and other top district executives, the report describes organized wrongdoing that robbed tens of thousands of children — many of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds and struggled in school — of an honest appraisal of their abilities.
At the same time, the document apparently provides a scathing assessment of the school system’s handling of the scandal, accusing district leaders of hampering the special investigators’ efforts to uncover the truth. The investigators reportedly accuse Hall and her top aides of refusing to take responsibility for the district’s problems.
The report also will detail potentially criminal acts by district officials, the AJC has learned.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog