APS teacher forced to crawl under table at faculty meeting because of low test scores

I have now read most of the CRCT cheating report and find it very depressing how easily adults sacrifice children to their own ends.

Here is a key finding that ought to be worrisome to the entire country as all states move toward pay for performance plans that reward educators on student scores.

From the report:

Data can properly be used to assess academic progress. But data can also be used as an abusive and cruel weapon to embarrass and punish classroom teachers and principals or as a pretext to termination. After hundreds of interviews, it became clear that Dr. Hall and her staff used data as a way to exert oppressive  pressure to meet goals. When principals, in groups of 10 to 12, met annually with Dr. Hall, each school’s scores were displayed on large colorful graphs framed and hung on the wall around her conference  room.

During the meeting, Dr. Hall would ask each principal, one by one, “Are you going to meet targets this year?” No one dared tell her “no.”

Many principals humiliated teachers in front of their peers for failing to meet goals. For example, at Fain Elementary School, the principal forced a teacher to crawl under a table in a faculty meeting because that teacher’s students’ test scores were low.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

103 comments Add your comment

Former SPARK parent

July 5th, 2011
9:22 pm

The pressure to meet data targets didn’t create cheaters–it revealed them. Just as Bev Hall’s reaction to emerging reports of cheating didn’t cause her to become a lying con-artist–it just revealed her as one. There were plenty of honest teachers who didn’t cheat. Let’s give some of them the soon-to-be-vacant principal jobs.

ScienceTeacher671

July 5th, 2011
9:29 pm

When will it stop being about the teachers, and start being about those higher up?

Atlanta Education, Politics and Business

July 5th, 2011
9:34 pm

Since discussions are moving to different links, I’m posting here too.

Has the Governor’s team investigated the role that the Atlanta Board of Education played in this fiasco? If I recall correctly, didn’t the AJC print several stories saying that former ABE Chair LaChandra Butler-Burks and Dr. Beverly Hall met with the Chamber of Commerce to plan how and who should conduct the initial investigation BEFORE the issue was brought up at a board meeting? Didn’t they even go so far as to identify the names of those BUSINESS members/companies they wanted to put on the committee? Didn’t this heavily involve APS’ public towncrier/pr group, the Atlanta Education Fund?

Beyond the actual classroom cheating, those who took part in the initial investigation by trying to stack an investigatory commission with clearly biased business leaders should also be subject to any punishments meted out to those who cheated. Why? Their actions allowed those not identified as cheaters to continue cheating children. They are part of the CONSPIRACY to Rob the Children of Atlanta of a public education.

Also the parents who have so negatively spun the actions of the 5 in voting former Chair Butler-Burks out, clearly jumped on the APS/Business bandwagon helping to play music to help cover up this mess. If I were betting on this, I’ll bet you see those parents who were decrying the 5’s leadership change now as a victory for the students.

If the 5 couldn’t get anything done about this before now, it was because the 4 muddied up the water with their self-righteous lawsuit which they settled in the judge’s chambers when he told them he would rule in favor of the 5. We’ve spent wasteful months hearing about how evil and unethical those board members were….now that the truth is out, I look forward to these media savvy parents to STEP UP and LET EVERYONE IN ATLANTA KNOW ABOUT THE UNETHICAL ACTIONS OF APS LEADERS.

Or, are they part of the cover-up too!!??

amazed

July 5th, 2011
9:36 pm

Also as I noted elsewhere-page 3-”The APS General Counsel told us that one of her main duties was to provide Superintendent Hall with “deniability.”

GA parent/teacher

July 5th, 2011
9:38 pm

Wow! I am truly shocked and saddened by this report. It sounds much worse than I could have ever imagined. I do believe though that the majority of teachers in Georgia (me included) would never cheat or do anything as unethical as what was done in these schools.

funny

July 5th, 2011
9:59 pm

Hall still walked away with a fat payday. I really hope parents will bring civil suits against her. Im sorry if anyone told me to crawl under a table my response would not have been liked. Tyrantical leadership such as Hall, her cronies, and Rhee; lead to innocent ppl getting hurt… while I will not call Hall a Nazi… she showed the same type of leadership that a small minded, psychotic DESPOT like others of her type in history have shown… when the light shines and all is revealed they run for the shadows like the roaches they are.

exaps teacher

July 5th, 2011
10:00 pm

It is interesting that even though this is a report that applies to what happened at APS under Beverly Hall, Maureen skillfully deflect the attention with language like quote “Here is a key finding that ought to be worrisome to the entire country as all states move toward pay for performance plans that reward educators on student scores.”

Maureen, lets not try to generalize the worry for the entire country..this cheating scandal where teachers were forced to crawl under the desk happened at APS and not in the whole country across all states !!
again Maureen apologizes for the Beverly Hall.
Maureen..can you repeat after me ” Beverly Hall is a crook”

Teacher Reader

July 5th, 2011
10:03 pm

The data that everyone in the country keeps touting is BS data. We are comparing one group of children with another. The data that teachers and all administrators should be judged by is how much improvement a child has made during the year he/she was with that teacher. A child coming in well below grade level, can make significant progress with hard work and quality teaching and not make it to grade level. Those in charge of education are looking at invalid data, as any teacher will tell you, the kids are different from year to year.

As a teacher, I was much more concerned with my students making growth, than passing poorly written tests like the CRCT.

What this posting shows, is that those in charge will do anything to make themselves look good, and that pay for performance is a very poor idea given the current use and quality of data. If we were to judge teachers on how much growth students made, that would be a much more ligament way of showing a teacher to be good or poor. ‘

I agree with Former SPARK Parent. The advanced degrees that many in charge have do not mean very much. It’s time that we stop with the advanced degrees, that just make colleges rich and look for leaders for our schools and school districts who are hard working, honest, have integrity, and really understand what it takes to get a child from point a to b.

Inescapable yet unspoken

July 5th, 2011
10:05 pm

Union are needed.

Alone and pressured with a possible job loss because the expectations are unreasonable, what real choice did the teacher have? Teachers are not modern day Jobs of the Bible!

We need a good class action suit against APS from every teacher who was pressured or was in a hostile work environment..

Columbia Grad

July 5th, 2011
10:09 pm

There are no words to express how abhorrent this report is. I’ll keep reading it tomorrow, but after reading about the crap that happened at Parks, I can’t stomach any more for the night. My heart goes out to the the children who will always wonder whether their passing score was them or some adults trying to cover their sorry butts.

Patricia

July 5th, 2011
10:09 pm

@exaps teacher: I do not think the issue is so much about those who cheated which of course is horrific and those teachers, etc. I assumed have been punished through the PSC. My issue is the idea that administrative personnel would go to such lengths to disrepect their staff in such a nineteenth century approach. I cannot even fathom teaching in a district where an administrator would make such a demand and a teacher would actually follow that demand. What has happened to us as a profession that we allowing bullies to run our schools in such a fashion? Wouldn’t such a demeaning situation fall under the Code of Ethics? Even if it happened to only one teacher it happened to too many.

Inescapable yet unspoken

July 5th, 2011
10:10 pm

Investigators should go check out ANY similar district with improvement claims such as APS…. And while we are at it, steer away from ANY graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy!

Teacher Reader

July 5th, 2011
10:12 pm

@ inescapble yet unspoken

I have worked as a teacher in a heavy union district and cheating occurred on important tests. These cheaters were smarter than the cheaters here. They didn’t physically change any answers, they told the children what the right answers were or questioned the answer chosen by the child.

Until education focuses less on these mundane tests that are truly dumbing our children down, and on the progress each child has made in the school year, our public education system will continue on this path of destruction. Our current schools (union and non-union alike) are nothing but job creators for communities with educating children as a second or third priority in the better systems.

exaps teacher

July 5th, 2011
10:16 pm

patricia….
sorry to say this..but GA PSC is toothless and is in bed with power to be …just like the mayor and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Board.
The PSC will jump in a heartbeat to censure and punish a teacher, specially if the complaint comes from the school district.
But when a complaint comes to the PSC against an administrator or superintendent from teachers, the PSC basically looks the other way and the burden of proof is much higher.
How do I know this? I was a whisteblower against APS for cheating in the high school graduation test back in 2005. So now that CRCT cheating at APS has been proven, the next target should be to investigate cheating in the High School Graduation Tests at APS high school for the last 10 years since Beverly Hall arrived. No wonder Beverly decided to run for the border.

ricardus

July 5th, 2011
10:24 pm

Why wasn’t that prinicpal at Fain Elementary that forced a teacher to climb under a table fired. And why didn’t the rest of the faculty at Fain Elementary prevent that terrible embarrassment to that fellow teacher.
If that principal is still there when school opens he should be forced to climb under the table for his stupidty and lack of leadership.

Dekalb Oldtimer

July 5th, 2011
10:26 pm

@Teacher Reader : As a former reading teacher I totally agree about the method of measuring progress and have posted it here many times. How this method of gauging individual and/or group progress and making a teacher accountable for it actually got by the educators and statisticians involved in approving the method is way beyond belief.

The CRCT may measure something, but NOT individual student progress. That can only be done, as you pointed out, by pre-testing and post-testing the SAME group of children. The information obtained from testing 2011 classes and comparing the scores with those of 2010 classes may measure something , but definitely NOT individual progress.

Dekalb Oldtimer

July 5th, 2011
10:30 pm

OH…and is an investigative report like this on the agenda for Dekalb? If not an opportunity to get more kids out of this quagmire is being missed.

David Sims

July 5th, 2011
10:32 pm

Anybody want a laugh?

Influential Jamaican in Atlanta: Dr. Beverly Hall
By Glen Laman
Published Mar 28, 2008
http://www.jamaicans.com/jamaicansoverseas/atlant/atlantajamaicanDrBeverlyHall.shtml

That page needs some editing, I think.

Paulo977

July 5th, 2011
10:46 pm

exapsteacher

“teachers were forced to crawl under the desk happened at APS and not in the whole country across all states ”

DON’T BE ALL THAT SURE ….
Standardized Testing is criminal …

The whole system is now a pressure cooker and that does NOT bode well for solid real EDUCATION !!!

That

July 5th, 2011
10:46 pm

After all this APS and Dekalb will keep its accreditation! Clayton County must really feel like fools. Looks like Elgart’s ploy in Clayton didn’t teach the rest of the Metro Area anything.

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exaps teacher

July 5th, 2011
10:46 pm

I am still on volume 1 of the report.
Boy this slime ball ” Principal Waller” of Park is a piece of work !
Not to sound racist…I am so tired of seeing these black men aka thugs in expensive suits making over
$100K at APS.

exaps teacher

July 5th, 2011
10:49 pm

Paulo,
I disagree…standardized testing and NCLB maybe insane…but not criminal.
Criminals are the ones that are the parasites like beverly hall and her cronies.

Teacher Reader

July 5th, 2011
10:52 pm

Standardized testing with tests like the CRCT are in fact criminal. They give false information to parents who think that an 800 means their child is doing okay, when in fact it means that their child barely answered more than 50% of the questions correctly. This is a crime to the child.

Berny

July 5th, 2011
10:54 pm

I’m reading this report and it is disgusting; almost as disgusting as Beverly Hall. This woman cannot be defended. She knew about the cheating and practically demanded it. At Harper-Archer High School with 20% Spec Ed, Spec Ed students scored higher than gifted. What????? She should be prosecuted. Parents should sue.

exaps teacher

July 5th, 2011
10:58 pm

oh my god!
After all that Principal Waller of Parks Middle School did and all the complaints against him…here is what happened:

“Dr. Hall held Waller out to the public as “model principal”.
“Micheal Pitts dismissed our investigation and said it was “racist”. He also tried to interfere with the investigation. Also Micheal Pitts told the teachers that complained against Waller ” stop writing letters about Waller, he is not going anywhere”.
Bear in mind, Micheal Pitts is a very high ranking employee under Dr. Hall.
If this is not proof of Hall’s hands in the cookie jar, then the justice system may just have to be retired

oldtimer

July 5th, 2011
11:01 pm

Unfortunately..What interesting reading/…….

Atlanta mom

July 5th, 2011
11:14 pm

ScienceTeacher671
How can this not be about the teachers? I am sorry. They were put in a very bad place. Didn’t mean they had to cheat. They didn’t. I was put in a very bad place when I was 22 years old. I didn’t do what I was expected to do. I fully expected to be fired. I was okay with that. Because I did the right thing.
As a friend of mine said recently, you are never asked to cheat just once.
If these folks had stood up, and been counted, we wouldn’t be in this place. Or, if we are, maybe we need more teacher accountablilty.

David Sims

July 5th, 2011
11:20 pm

@exaps teacher. Speaking of Principal Waller and Parks Middle School, I found a PDF file that you might find amusing.

http://www.diaristproject.org/file2/Atlanta%20Parks%201-22-08.pdf

I expect there will be quite a bit of old APS promotional and acclaim literature that will be just a barrel of laughs to read, knowing that the people in them are merely so many fancy-dressed scoundrels.

Mikey D

July 5th, 2011
11:30 pm

I wonder exactly how this teacher was “forced” under the table… I can’t imagine any situation where I would willingly crawl under a table in the middle of a faculty meeting simply because a principal ordered me to… I’d more likely be walking out and immediately driving to the superintendent’s office to formally file an official grievance… Of course, if the superintendent in my county was a fraudulant criminal like Beverly Hall, then I’d probably have to go elsewhere to air my grievance…

David Sims

July 5th, 2011
11:37 pm

From the PDF file about Principal Christopher Waller and Parks Middle School.

“WHY THESE DRAMATIC GAINS? A wide range of interrelated factors have contributed to Parks’ success during the past few years, including improvements made under a former principal, effective and visionary leadership, data-driven planning and instruction, high expectations for staff and students, strategic partners (and the support and funding they offer), increased discipline and professional development.”

“FINDING EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP AND A STRONG STAFF. When Dr. Beverly L. Hall accepted the leadership of the Atlanta Public School system in 1999, she knew that she would have to look immediately at the leaders of the schools. She quickly began the process of changing principals based upon the performance of the students at their schools. ‘You have issues with principals when the schools are failing,’ she says. She sought leaders with high standards and a commitment to making sure students succeed.

“‘You have to find someone who is able to lead,’ Hall explains. ‘That sounds vague, but they must be able to go in and, while not being a dictator, get people’s attention and articulate a vision and mission in a way that people want to be on board with it….’

“Christopher Waller was that person for Parks Middle School….”

Okay, let’s all now have us a really big belly laugh, since all of that quote is a bunch of lies. Neither Waller nor Hall were the sort of people the promotional PDF file made them seem to be. And here we have evidence that Dr. Hall has quite a talent for saying all the right things, while not meaning a bit of it.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 5th, 2011
11:43 pm

Maureen,

Do you think that the APS was unique among GA public school systems in its widespread test-manipulation deceit? I don’t.

ELmom

July 5th, 2011
11:48 pm

@Atlanta Education, Politics and Business You are exactly right. What about the board? They had to have known. Cecily Kinnane has found herself on the wrong side of the line this time. She was a staunch supporter of Hall. As parents and community members in the under performing schools of SRT-3 began probing for answers she always promised to “look into it” and get back to us.

ELmom

July 5th, 2011
11:52 pm

@Atlanta mom In many cases the teachers did not cheat. If you read the report you will see cases where the principals were in a position to change the answers on weekends and after hours.

msbaker111

July 5th, 2011
11:53 pm

This is only one of many surprises yet to come as we get closer to 2014. According to NCLB, 100% of all students will be proficient in math and English by then. Administrators may be a lot of things, but they’re not complete idiots. They know this isn’t humanly possible. What we have with the CRCT debacle is blatant cheating in an attempt to make AYP. But how many schools across the country are “playing with the numbers” to improve their results? I’m talking about practices such as sending kids who can’t pass the graduation test to other schools, moving children out of special education so that less than 40 (a subgroup whose data “counts”) will be tested, etc. Isn’t that cheating as well?

What is criminal to me is the demonization of teachers and the labeling of our schools as “failing” based on data from these ridiculous standardized tests. We (teachers) know that in order for our students to compete when they enter the workforce, they must be able to utilize higher order thinking skills, exhibit creativity, and adapt to constantly changing environments. These skills simply can’t be assessed on a standardized test of any kind. And where do we focus our time in the classroom? Preparing for the tests!

As long as policy makers continue to leave teachers out of the discussion and rely on invalid and unreliable studies conducted by corporations who seek to gain a hefty profit, as long as politicians regurgitate rhetoric crafted by those far removed from the classroom, and as long as the public ingests it all at face value, this will remain the climate of American education.

B. Killebrew

July 6th, 2011
12:01 am

The framework and agenda at the “10-12 principals at a time meetings” with Dr. Hall seemed to be very Michelle Rhee-esque.

exaps teacher

July 6th, 2011
12:02 am

david sims..thanks for the link to the PR article by the diarist.org

I already wrote to the foundation that published that article about the thug Waller and told them it is time to take that article down and disown its relationship with the article given the report about the amazing deeds of Waller, Hall, Pitts, and Halls gang of mercenaries.

exaps teacher

July 6th, 2011
12:19 am

wonder where ex mayor shirley is today……crying for her buddy Beverly?

Inescapable yet unspoken

July 6th, 2011
12:19 am

@killebrew

The APS attorney Veleter Mazyk came from Washington DC public schools. Will she disbarred in GA?

2kids mom

July 6th, 2011
12:21 am

Given the environment created by Hall and her staff, I wonder if the well being of our children has been compromised in other ways. If threats and intimidation tactics were used to discourage teachers and staff from reporting cheating, what else didn’t they report? Given that the APS administration created a culture of fear, I think we need to seriously consider the possibility that our children may have been harmed in other ways, beyond academic. Have teachers overlooked or ignored inappropriate conduct with children? Have health and safety concerns been ignored or suppressed? I know of one school with ongoing mold issues and staff were scared to complain or report it. I think this report is just the tip of the iceberg. Maureen, has the AJC considered looking into the safety of our schools? Many are overcrowded and don’t have any sprinklers. What else has APS ignored in their unrelenting question of high test scores?

2kids mom

July 6th, 2011
12:23 am

I mean, what else has APS ignored in their unrelenting quest for high test scores? Sorry about the typo.

Dr. John Trotter

July 6th, 2011
12:37 am

I just had a comment hijacked by Mr. Filter. Please release, OK? Thanks!

Dr. John Trotter

July 6th, 2011
12:37 am

The worst thing that I said was “crap.” Ha!

Dr. John Trotter

July 6th, 2011
1:01 am

Maureen: I just got home and read the part of the report on Parks Middle School. I didn’t recognize the cheating teachers, and I am sure that the MACE Staff would have informed me if they were members of MACE. I am certain that they aren’t. In fact, I don’t think that we have a single teacher whom we are defending on the charges of cheating. But, I did recognize the name of one of the teachers who refused to cheat and whose contract was subsequently non-renewed presumably for refusing to go along with the cheating. I recognize her name (and know her husband as well). No wonder this Waller fellow was so apparently jumpy and nervous when we walked into the Parks building. To quote my grandfather, he couldn’t seem to find his butt with both hands.

The report is so sad. The Fain principal who apparently made the teacher crawl under the table, I do know. I had him in a grievance hearing about three years ago, representing a veteran teacher who was just tired of the crap. He appeared to be so cocky…and dapper in his impressively starched shirt and bow tie. I think that when I got through with him, some of the starch had come out of his shirt. I guess that I WAS indeed Public Enemy # 1 to these cheating principals. We had picket signs which read: “Teachers Teacher! Administrators Cheat!” Perhaps these should be edited now to say: “Administrators Cheat! So Do Some Teachers!” I am disappointed in those teachers who did cheat, but I still contend that the culture of cheating was established by the lady herself, Beverly Hall.

To see the “cheating” picket signs, see this June 21, 2011 article on my personal blog or also visit http://www.theteachersadvocate.com >>>

http://georgiateachersspeakout.com/2011/06/21/atlanta-public-schools-will-the-administration-of-beverly-hall-fall-as-fast-as-the-berlin-wall-did-in-1989/

Dr. John Trotter

July 6th, 2011
1:02 am

It’s still not posting.

msbaker111

July 6th, 2011
1:16 am

And I’m staying up late, anxiously awaiting this post, Dr. Trotter…

Competitive

July 6th, 2011
1:27 am

@Former SPARK Parent- Agree 100%

There is one truth that I hope does not get lost in mud with this report. The article which glowingly described the improvements at Parks MS illustrates one of the major problems in education today. Too many educators and politicians care more about what they say they are doing to improve education than what they are actually doing. Everything in that article was taken at face value, with no effort made to determine if any of those reforms were actually being implemented or if they were actually having an impact. Anyone can put on the dog and pony show when visitors are around, and education has become all about the show. More scary is knowing that the article was surely used in other parts of the country to illustrate a model for change.

The solutions to improving education are simple to list, but admittedly difficult to implement. First, discipline needs to be improved. Teaching and learning cannot be done at high levels without discipline. Second, teachers need to have higher expectations for student work. Too much work today is fluff. Finally, teachers need to honestly and accurately assess and report student progress to all stakeholders. Problems with grades, test scores, behavior, effort, etc. can only be corrected if the problem is defined. Parents and administrators need to support the teachers in these efforts. I will admit, however, that gaining the trust of parents after this scandal will be difficult.

These are not complicated solutions, but they will make all schools better. These solutions aren’t entertaining, but they work. Who knows, Principal Waller might have met Dr. Hall’s goals if he had implemented them.

Dr. John Trotter

July 6th, 2011
1:35 am

Well…I guess the Filter Man is going to keep my post. Ha! Nothing in the Report shocks me…although I a must say that even as a jaded curmudgeon, I was a tad taken aback by the brazen openness of the cheating. We at MACE had been asserting “systematic cheating” for a while and poohed-poohed the Blue Ribbon Commission and other attempts to cover up. But, I must say that I am glad that the Report has been released to the public and that the uninitiated and naive can get a glimpse behind the curtain and see how governmental bodies operate, especial when given an Open Records request.

Maureen…please release my earlier post. Thanks ahead of time!

Clayton County Parent

July 6th, 2011
1:41 am

Enter your comments here

former APS teacher

July 6th, 2011
1:49 am

So, what will happen to the principals. I hope that the governor does not buy the “race card bait” that the prinicpal of Beenteen is trying to play. She was my principal at Oglethorpe and she did everything in her power to have me terminated. The investigation depicts her correctly. She was intimidating and retaliatory. Several teachers were forced to resign from APS because we did not allow her to intimidate us. We wrote Beverly Hall, Kathy Augustine, and Don Doran, but noone would listen to our complaints. Now Kathy Augustine is in DeSoto, Texas, and Beverly Hall has resigned in an effort to avoid a criminal charge. They all deserve to have their licenses revoked and their careers destroyed. After all, they destroyed a lot of childrens’ lives and teachers’ careers. As for me, I will be calling the PSC tomorrow to tell them my story. I appreciate the investigation because I feel like I have been exonerated.

former APS teacher

July 6th, 2011
1:52 am

Beverly Hall has ALWAYS known about the intimidation tactics used by the administrators in the APS system. Everyone who was fired or forced to resign needs to file a class action lawsuit against the system.