What are the real consequences to the honest teachers in the CRCT scandal and the struggling students whose test scores were changed to mask failure?
I called one of the APS teacher/whistle blowers cited in the CRCT cheating report to ask about the consequences to APS students whose test scores were dramatically improved by teacher or administrator erasures.
The teacher acknowledged that most of the kids would have been promoted to the next grade anyway since few Georgia students are held back. The main problem was that the teachers who got those kids the next year in their classes had no reliable map to tell them where the children were academically.
In the beginning of the year, the teacher said that she and her colleagues review the CRCT scores of their new class to determine where students are weak and where they need extra attention. If the test scores have been altered so the child appears proficient, those early opportunities to address weaknesses are missed. “There is lost time that can’t always be made up and may make a difference when the child is in 10th grade,” she said.
Teachers also beat themselves over the child’s contradictory performance. “The CRCT from the year before shows the child is doing great and then he’s failing in your class,” she said. “The blame is put on you — what are you doing wrong that this child isn’t doing as well this year?”
The children and their parents are also baffled. They trust the test scores and can’t understand the low grades. “The child has been given false confidence,” said the teacher. In many schools, teachers who didn’t cheat ended up with lower CRCT scores in their classes than their dishonest colleagues. “We used to wonder how some teachers had such great scores,” she said. “Now we know it was because they were cheating.”
I also put this question of consequences to a smart school leader. She said:
I believe that the impact on these students is incalculable. Children have only a limited amount of time in school (12 years or so) before they move into the post-high school world. Especially for poor children, their best chance at developing literacy, numeracy and critical thinking and communication skills is by maximizing their school experiences given the paucity (compared to wealthier peers) of their home experiences. There’s ample research to suggest that even a couple of years in a row with weak teachers can have an enormous impact of a child’s learning trajectory.
Clearly, many of the educators in APS (and definitely the administrators) were not focused on actually educating these children because they’d figured out that they could get their precious, outlandish results much more easily by cheating. So, if you assume that the cheating culture was firmly established by say 2005, then for at least the past six years, district and school leaders who clearly had no real ability or intention to educate these kids were busy making sure that their staffs produced post-hoc results.
So, a kid who was in first grade in 2005 is now in middle school, and if he was at say Venetian Hills that whole time, who knows what gaps exist in his learning. No one was busy actually teaching him to read because they knew they could erase his way to a high score after the fact. A kid who was starting middle school that same year at Parks or Kennedy would just be graduating this year (or not) with none of the basic skills he needs to succeed in the job market or post-secondary schooling. It would be literally impossible to calculate financially and otherwise the damage that may have been done to these kids.
I think the lost focus on instruction, coupled with the explicit message to them and their families that their revered leaders had no faith that they could learn will cause untold damage to this community
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog