Beverly Hall: Shocked, saddened and sorry for shortcomings

Beverly Hall says she never encouraged cheating and regrets that she failed to discover it. (AJC photo)

Beverly Hall says she regrets her employees felt they could not come to her with cheating concerns. (AJC file)

Here is part of former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall’s op-ed published by the AJC today in response to the state’s devastating report on the extent of cheating in Atlanta schools on the annual state exam, the CRCT.

Please, keep responses on topic.

I am interested in the district’s NAEP scores, which Hall cites in her piece. I have attended several national panels and conferences where Atlanta’s NAEP scores were recognized and praised by speakers, including Andre Alonso, the highly regarded CEO of Baltimore schools who commented that APS had to be doing something right to see such gains. (Atlanta and Baltimore are both part of a trial project in which some urban districts are allowing their scores to be separated out and published — NAEP has only published state level scores in the past.)

(For information on what NAEP is, go here. Called the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is considered an objective and rigorous — some say overly rigorous — test.) For those of you with testing expertise, including Jerry Eads, I would love your view on Atlanta’s performance on NAEP.

I am shocked and saddened by the facts uncovered by the investigators. The cheating documented is serious and cannot be ignored. I am particularly concerned for those students affected by misconduct and whose education has fallen short as a result

I am also disturbed by the repeated statements by teachers and other professionals that they cheated or chose not to reveal cheating because of a perceived atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation. A number of years ago, we installed a hotline whereby persons with knowledge of misconduct could report it, even anonymously if they so wished. Anonymous emails and letters provided a further channel of communication. Even so, it now appears that our efforts and procedures were not enough.

To the extent that I failed to take measures that would have prevented what the investigators have disclosed, I am accountable, as head of the school system, for failing to act accordingly. I sincerely apologize to the people of Atlanta and their children for any shortcomings. If I did anything that gave teachers the impression I was unapproachable and unresponsive to their concerns, I also apologize for that. Where people consciously chose to cheat, however, the moral responsibility must lie with them.

I do not apologize for the reforms my staff and I implemented. The public has a right to hold educators and administrators accountable if they fail to teach children what they need to learn. We set goals for our schools because our students deserve no less. But, most importantly, we accompanied our targets and the targets mandated by No Child Left Behind with programs and facility improvements designed to give principals and teachers the means to achieve them.

It is my hope that APS parents and supporters will not read the report as a sweeping indictment of the Atlanta Public Schools and the accomplishments of the past decade. The vast majority of our educators are dedicated, hardworking and innocent of wrongdoing. They deserve our respect and gratitude.

Progress has been made, and continues to be made, in Atlanta’s schools. Cheating on the CRCT in 2009 or earlier by no means undermines the clear indication of improvement shown by the annual testing of all segments of our student population as part of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) of the federal government’s National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Only 35 percent of APS fourth-graders taking the reading assessment in 2003 scored at or above NAEP’s level of proficiency. By 2009, that number had risen to 50 percent. Of the eighth-graders who were tested, 60 percent met or exceeded NAEP’s reading proficiency standard in 2009, compared to only 42 percent in 2003.

The sad events of 2009 are shameful, but those events are in the past. Much has been accomplished, but much remains to be done. I have every confidence that, under Superintendent Erroll Davis and under my ultimate successor when chosen, the Atlanta Public Schools will move forward, not back. I will cheer for them the loudest as they continue their “Race to the Top.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

181 comments Add your comment

Sick of it all...

July 10th, 2011
1:33 pm

I’m sorry, but it really bugs me when people try to dismiss horrible things by saying, “that’s all in the past, let’s move forward”. That is such a cop-out. You can’t move on with anything until you deal with it. Deal with it lady.

Atlanta mom

July 10th, 2011
1:40 pm

too much, too little, too late
Apologies fix nothing. She needs to go to jail.

Danny G

July 10th, 2011
1:41 pm

I am EXTREMELY bothered by the notion that she would defend herself by stating cheating does NOT undermine your test scores on another test. I’m certainly suspicious now… it’s the same reason lawyers try to establish credibility of people on the stand by their history of lying. Lying and cheating most definitely undermine your credibility and get at the essence of why this scandal is so awful. That comment is the most important in this passage.. she should be taken to task on it.

Reality Bites

July 10th, 2011
1:52 pm

The only crime here is IF everyone guilty does HARD time. They not only sacrificed the children of Atlantas education for their own monetary gain, they took nationwide accolades and pats on the back as if they did something right. Something is REALLY wrong here if fatass hall deosnt do time. BTW our Farm industry needs lots of help due to immigration reform. My advice to the guilty of the APS, dress in loose white clothing and WEAR a HAT!

Reality Bites

July 10th, 2011
1:53 pm

correction….doesnt do hard time sorry.

Tiffany F.

July 10th, 2011
1:53 pm

Some teachers were cheating on ITBS in several schools according to testimony provided in the report. How do we know that any test scores that have been produced in any of these schools are genuine? I find it difficult to believe that she did not know that there was cheating going on in any of her schools especially after the presentation of Dukes’ report, what she did with the Payne report, and even the Porter report. I know that is an educator’s blog so please excuse any grammatical errors because English in my second language :)

mac

July 10th, 2011
1:55 pm

She’s a lying piece of crap that made almost 500k a year who led by intimidation through HR and her flunkies, discredited the hard working honest teachers by having a “black” good ole boy system of promotion, and destroyed the 9 years of education for thousands of “black” inner city kids that need an education to survive. The Supreme Court is going after barry bonds and roger clemens for cheating at baseball, they are going after the wrong people. I WORK FOR APS AND I HATE IT! YES I KEPT MY MOUTH SHUT BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO DISAPPER LIKE OTHERS BECAUSE I HAVE TWO OTHER MOUTHS TO FEED THAT DO NOT ATTEND APS. GOOD RIDDENS!

Digger

July 10th, 2011
1:58 pm

Tiffany, you write much better than the teachers in question, I am sure!

Teacher Reader

July 10th, 2011
2:05 pm

I am sick and tired of hearing garbage spewed by Hall. You were the leader, you were paid to be responsible for the school district. Take responsibility for your actions, and what has happened during your tenure of APS or give back every single dollar that you earned while holding that position.

I hope that EVERYONE involved gets put away for some time and has their teaching and all education licenses revoked. They are a poor excuse of teachers and should not be able to be in front of any child ever again.

Ms. Hall, actions speak louder than words.

APS PRINCIPALS

July 10th, 2011
2:10 pm

Dr. Hall has done great things for Atlanta Public Schools and she is a woman of high integrity and morals. The problem is that the people that she chooses to surround her took major steps to control how she received information. I can attest that when she is independent and gets information she responds swiftly and yes, quite aggressive to get the issue resolved. The problem in the City of Atlanta is the people; they are morally bankrupt and will do anything for praise in their sad attempts to look good on her coat tail. The GBI twisted and lied also in their report. I spoke to a principal friend of mine and asked him why he said that Dr. Hall was unapproachable and he responded that the information released was taken completely out of context. “They asked him if he believes she asked people to cheat” and the response was “no because it was so hard to get to Beverly because she was so protected by her staff”. “You can see the president before you can see Beverly Hall”. Also telling teachers that if they continue to fail students that they will be placed on Professional Development Plan does not constitute cheating, it constitutes responsibility and accountability.
The investigators choose to interviewed the losers on the spectrum, the no good teachers who principals held accountable. Yes some principals are unethical but to place the blame on one woman in a district the size of Atlanta Public Schools is unreasonable. Leave that woman alone and let her enjoy her life and her retirement. There are principals that should be held accountable like the “Dirty Dozen” but to accuse all thirty eight principals investigated as ethically bankrupt is politics and hate from a governor who she put in his place. Black folks are sad, if they allow this man to put a well established, distinguished African American woman in jail would be a sad day for civil rights.
We have a woman in Florida who killed her child and she received reasonable doubt because she is white. Dr. Hall and many of the principals mentioned deserve reasonable doubts. This is still the south and it is still Georgia.

Education Insider

July 10th, 2011
2:11 pm

Me thinks doth protest too much.
It would be difficult for me to believe that her attorney endorsed this. I am certain she never cleared this with him, as it is apparent, she is always right. “I don’t appologize” wow…I bet when the editors of the AJC read that they felt like they hit the jackpot. If you had any question about who Beverly Hall is those 3 little words summed it up. Obviously she thinks if she just keeps talking that sooner or later we are going to believe it.
Beverly Hall is beginning to make Bernie Madoff look good.

tim

July 10th, 2011
2:11 pm

BEV stills blows a lot of hot air…….she’s pathetic!

apology not accepted

July 10th, 2011
2:14 pm

as long as the teachers and administrators continue to tell similar tales of coercion and intimidation from hall and her minions, there is no way anyone can believe hall is doing anything but trying to distance herself from the truth: she coordinated systematic cheating and no oversight from the state board of ed did anything to prevent her. what’s worse is the complicity of ajc in championing hall without bothering to investigate such statistically improbable test scores. i hope an outside news agency gets involved with this to discredit once and for all the horrible job ajc does as a journalistic organization.

James D.

July 10th, 2011
2:17 pm

Beverly Hall deserves jail time. Period. Not only was she overpaid in her job as superintendent, but she also destroyed what little positive reputation APS had. For years to come, people will deride APS as the district of cheaters. The fact that she harmed the minds of those whose tests were altered is even more immoral. We may never know how many kids undeservedly graduated APS, having flunked the CRCT. Shame on her for betraying the trust of parents, students and Atlanta taxpayers. While the world was transfixed on the meaningless case of Casey Anthony, this sorry excuse for a human being had already murdered the intellects of pupils entrusted to her care for many years.

Concerned teacher

July 10th, 2011
2:27 pm

Please APS Principals…can we just leave race out of this….it is getting old.

James D.

July 10th, 2011
2:31 pm

Well, my first comment was edited out. Here goes again.

While the simpletons in this country were transfixed on the meaningless trial of Casey Anthony thanks to stupid Nancy Grace, Atlanta was the scene of a serial murderer of student minds, a crime perpetrated by Beverly Hall and her lackeys. they were also traitorous to the parents and Atlanta taxpayers who entrusted their sacred positions to them.

Prison time is too good for them. Send them to Guantanimo Bay.

chillywilly

July 10th, 2011
2:34 pm

@APS PRINCIPALS – I was trying to keep my religion today, but after I read your comments, I lost it. Don’t give me that “African American & Black sh$t”. I’m black as hell and prefer to be called Black American, not African American. What the hell is that anyway? With regard to Beverly Hall, she has demonstrated that she is a crook of the worst kind. She surrounded herself with rogues and even appointed them to high ranking administration positions. The investigation determine that principals, teachers and administrators cheated, period! They all should be arrested and serve prison time, in my opinion. Use your energy to find out why the so-called black leaders are so quiet on this educational travesty. Have you noticed how eerily quiet the NAACP, SCLC, The 100 Black Men and the rest of the blind Beverly Hall supporters have been since the release of this report? They ought to be mad as hell that the poor little black children have been CHEATED out of an education by their own people (Blacks). So don’t start that racism sh$t. You can blame a lot of mess on white folks, but you can’t blame this one on them. This one is on US!!

I recommend that Mr. Davis dismiss every top administrator at APS. They were Beverly Hall appointees and I’m sure she surrounded herself with people “just like her”. CLEAN HOUSE!!!

OJ Simpson

July 10th, 2011
2:39 pm

We have a woman in Florida who killed her child and she received reasonable doubt because she is white.
UPDATE!@!@

We have a Man in Florida who killed his wife and He received a innocent verdict because he is a famous black athlete.

td

July 10th, 2011
2:41 pm

One may wonder how bad the grade inflation in the High Schools must have been for these children that certainly were not receiving an education. I would like to see a study on how many of these children received the HOPE and then lost it in the first year of college.

Hard working Educator

July 10th, 2011
2:43 pm

Hopefully, APS can now become more diverse by allowing more honest, dedicated, and masculine African-American males or white males to serve in leadership roles…especially in disadvantaged areas where positive minded men are not present!!! Indeed, APS is a system that favors a particular gender,(female) race,(black)and in many cases a light complexion “Delta” to serve in leadership roles. Hence, I am really looking foward to working with Enroll Davis!!! With that being stated, Mr. Davis please help us to motivate our black youth to highly value their education and become their brother’s keeper!!!

Curious One

July 10th, 2011
2:46 pm

This is no apology – just more cover-up of Hall’s outrageous conduct and management ! She should be tarred and feathered to jail – by the kids !

alex

July 10th, 2011
2:52 pm

@aps principals: further proof that a city once to busy to hate is TOO STUPID TO INTELLIGENTLY BLOG,racist moron……

td

July 10th, 2011
2:54 pm

I watched “Georgia Gang” this morning and now think Mr. Davis was a good pick for the job. It was reported that he walked into his office and announced that he wanted all 178 people involved in the scandal fired immediately. Unfortunately, the staff told him all of them had due process rights and it could not be done that fast. I hope he gets his way on this one.

Middle School Teacher

July 10th, 2011
2:57 pm

Re: APS Principals. Lets gett over the RACE CARD you are once again using by comparing the superintendent to a white woman in Florida. The superintendent is FULLY responsible for the integrity of the school system, even if she is green-skined. Get over it. She knew exactly what was going on. If she didn’t, that is even more damaging to her abilities. APS needs help, not excuses.

Atlanta mom

July 10th, 2011
3:02 pm

@td
The information you want (lost HOPE first year by HS) was recently published- I can’t find it on the AJC site, but I’m still looking

5 to 10 Years

July 10th, 2011
3:04 pm

@ APS Principals -

I’m a resident of Mechanicsville (home of Dunbar Elementary) and can attest to the atrocious job our inner city teachers, principals and administrators are doing. Many of the children we’ve mentored have not been able to spell and read at levels compared to those years younger in the suburbs. How are these children going to succeed in a global market?

You should be ashamed that you’re pulling the race card. Beverly Hall called the shots and that has nothing to do with race but everything to do with integrity. Her retirement should be spent behind bars because that’s where many of the children she was responsible for will be.

Mechanicsville Resident

David Sims

July 10th, 2011
3:07 pm

Beverly Hall has a gift for damage control. She always knows how to speak, what tone to take, which pose to strike. She’s shocked and saddened by WHAT? She’s concerned about WHAT?

No! She’s worried that she might be criminally charged.

She’s disturbed by WHAT? “…a _perceived_ atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation.” Perceived. As if that atmosphere were merely a mistaken impression on the part of all those teachers.

“Even so, it now appears that our efforts and procedures were not enough.” Excuse me for laughing.

She apologizes for some little mistakes in order to show that she is a humble person who apologizes when an apology is due, suggesting that if she would also apologize for any Big Mistakes or Deadly Sins, if she were guilty of any of them. Very clever.

And then she has the audacity to brag about APS gains on the NAEP during her tenure, as if we didn’t remember how those gains were made, namely, by dumping the bottom third of the district’s enrollment through the mechanism of “alternative schools,” which led to about 18000 school-age children dropping out and being mislabeled as transfers by the last school they attended. Of course, that’s going to raise the district’s average NAEP score. But it’s just another form of cheating at the expense of children.

Middle School Teacher

July 10th, 2011
3:14 pm

@chilliwilli, Thank you for your honesty and sincerity in your response to APS Principals. It seems so rare that an intelligent Black American, a new term for me, stands up and tells it like it is. I am sure you are a part of the “silent majority” in the black community who have high values and integrity in life. What has happened in APS is a true travesty of administration. I totally agree that there needs to ba a house cleaning.

I applaud your term “Black American,” because a vast majority of blacks in America have no recent connection to Africa. I truly feel that your attitude would go a long way in decreasing or eliminating the racism in America against blacks. America would not run without blacks nor any other race. It is a country of immigrants. If we all consider ourselves “Americans,” perhaps we could get along together.

Thank you for your comments. Why don’t you apply for an APS position. You seem to have much more common sense that the leaders they now have.

DrBobBullard

July 10th, 2011
3:15 pm

We should all be “shocked, saddened and sorry” that such Atlanta school children were being cheated at the same time Beverly Hall and APS were being patted on the back and given awards. This is shameful. No, it’s criminal and somebody needs to go to jail! Where were the whistleblowers when we needed them? This does not appear to be a few bad apples. Something about APS is rotten to the core and it needs to be cut out. No band aid approach please. Major surgery is needed. Changing the head, while the body remains sick won’t get it. Now all eyes are fixed on the district, why not take this sad state of affairs and use it as an opportunity to make APS the BEST urban school disrtict in the country. I think it’s called making lemonaide when you are handed lemons.

djk

July 10th, 2011
3:16 pm

Maureen, your question about NAEP scores and their validity is a good one. NAEP is a test administered not by the regular teachers or administrators at a school. People from the state DOE come to the school and administer the test. The school’s teachers and administrators are not even allowed to touch the tests. If there is more than a certain percentage of students absent, they return another day for a make up session, so you can’t try to keep low performers home. It is a pretty good measure of student performance. Hard to manipulate or cheat.

The only issue is that usually those who are hired by the DOE to administer it are retired teachers and administrators. At my APS school (which is COMPLETELY clear of any wrongdoing, never even investigated because we had the lowest erasures in all middle schools), about 75% of them had retired from APS. I’m not saying there was any wrongdoing, but just pointing it out.

David Sims

July 10th, 2011
3:17 pm

@td. Thanks. I didn’t know that. I’m glad to hear that Mr. Davis at least intends to do the right thing by firing all of the APS teachers and principals who are guilty of cheating on the 2009 CRCT.

He would do well to get rid of those members of his predecessor’s court who contributed to the pressure, upon those principals and teachers, to get good test scores “by any means necessary.” Sharron Pitts, Tamara Cotman, Millicent Few, and Kathy Augustine should, each of them, be examined for any such contributory involvement, and if found guilty, fired.

Black or White

July 10th, 2011
3:21 pm

Mr. Davis please watch your BACK because you still have to many of Dr. Hall Administrative Team hanging around watching your every move. Once you start the hiring process please consider more MALE applicant black and white, because Dr. Hall team consist of the wicked witches from HELL.

Cindy of Atl

July 10th, 2011
3:31 pm

@ APS PRINCIPALS – Your way of thinking is how things get so out of control, particularly in government positions. People use the race card as an excuse to avoid having to face the reality of the situation.

Hall is not being accused of cheating because of her skin color. She is being accused because on some level she is guilty. Three scenarios, occurred ALL of which makes her guilty.

1. She encouraged the cheating to fatten her wallet
2. She did not encourage the cheating BUT knew it was happening and choose to ignore
3. She hired incompetent people that were responsible for the cheating. People that had no
business in these positions but because they were her friends, neighbors and family she
gave them a job.

Furthermore @ APS PRINCIPALS – your way of thinking is why public education is going downhill. I work in a nearby system and have seen time and time again people of color promoted who have no business working to begin with. Teachers that can’t spell, dress inappropriately and could care less about the children. And when those that actually care about the children try and have these teachers fired, they use the race card, get a lawyer and keep their jobs.

And THAT is why public education keeps declining! The chidlren (of all colors) suffer. However, if you want to use the race card then this would be the situation to use it. In my experience, the chidlren that suffer the most are those of color.

djk

July 10th, 2011
3:31 pm

My concern in all this is where does APS go from here. We do have outstanding educators working in APS who truly care about children and their future. If the 38 principals are removed, I hope that Mr. Davis looks toward the educators at the schools who were not involved to fill those vacancies.

It Figures

July 10th, 2011
3:34 pm

@ APS Principals. You’re proof that at least one of the APS principals named in the report is reading this blog……….

justbrowsing

July 10th, 2011
3:35 pm

We cannot omit that there have been numerous teachers unfairly forced out of their jobs under her administration. Karma can be something else.

She has a lot of nerve back pedalling now!

July 10th, 2011
3:35 pm

@ Black or White,
How about more non-black teachers? Great teachers are humanitarians and can teach children of any race. It seems too many underqualified individuals are teaching in APS because they are black – not because they are the best teachers that could be found.

@ Chilly Willy,
Thanks for summing it all up!

flashlight

July 10th, 2011
3:37 pm

Non “girly” men will be a good start.

Take all Principals and Academy Leaders in the district who have been in place more than three years and not implicated in this foolishness and move them around to change the toxic culture of APS.

Step two: Prosecute to the fullest extent anyone named in the report

Step three: Cut center office employees by fifty percent, then restructure the SRT offices and HS office.

Step four: Make a good hire for the new Head of Human Resources

Step five: Hold everyone accountable and tell the truth.

The five step plan to rescue APS from itself

Cindy of Atl

July 10th, 2011
3:38 pm

And I would have to agree with those on here with regards to hiring male teachers. Particularly articulate, educated black males – something Hall seemed to look down upon (although that is based on rumors and opinions of colleagues that used to work at APS).

Kay

July 10th, 2011
3:39 pm

What a mess she got Atlanta’s school system in! She should be punished!
The responsibility is on her. But the ones who participated in this
scandal should also be punished.
What a reflection on the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia!
And I bet 90%, if not more, of these participants are black and what they have done has affected their own children because they think they are above the law.

APS hiring soon!

July 10th, 2011
3:39 pm

All teachers who were fired or forced to resign for whistle-blowing should be contacted and offered a job to fill the4 looming vacancies before outsiders are considered. Also, APS should offer them a letter of apology!

the teacha

July 10th, 2011
3:40 pm

Hall fooled them all. Or enough of them. Everyone inside the system knew but couldn’t afford to say. Black president must be disappointed. Good thing the evil Republicans stopped it or they would still be doing it. Atlanta exposed. Blk leadership is at a cross roads. Where are the preachers, doctors, parents, family. We have proved are enemies right.

msbaker111

July 10th, 2011
3:43 pm

@Chilliwilli: Thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing your post. And please accept my apology for my fellow caucasian’s (Middle School Teacher) racist remarks. It is unfortunate, but some forms of ignorance are terminal.

JS

July 10th, 2011
3:56 pm

Im black and Believe Bev. Hall should be indicted and PUT IN JAIL!!!!!!!

tar and feathers party

July 10th, 2011
4:03 pm

I sure hope Ms Hall is not being paid a pension by APS, she has not earned her salary let alone a pension, imho!

Ed Johnson

July 10th, 2011
4:26 pm

Regarding students who self-reported their “race” for the NAEP TUDA, APS “White” students tended to be among the national top scorers and APS “African-American” students tended to be among the national bottom scorers. The average of the two can be used to tell a deceitful story. So, persons who choose to egg on APS based on APS’ average scores on the NAEP TUDA choose to promote deception. They aid and abet hiding the truth and, in so doing, help to rob mostly “African-American” children of getting a quality education. Jim Crow couldn’t do it better.

jsmtih

July 10th, 2011
4:34 pm

certain people can’t be tought and are just not academic material. everyone just wants to blame the teachers. they are expected to do the impossible.

It Figures

July 10th, 2011
4:35 pm

Maureen, do you know if APS will offer any programs of remediation for those former APS school-children, or any retesting for them? Any encouragement for them to at least get their GEDs since it’s likely that they had problems graduating from high school? For APS cheated them out of their one chance at education….seems to me they are sure owed something.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 10th, 2011
4:37 pm

What happened to the APS’ annual administrations of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills(ITBS)?

And don’t tell me that the APS didn’t have the money for such testing, Dr. Hall.

Note

July 10th, 2011
4:38 pm

Ever heard of the term “the buck stops here?” If you were in charge, you are responsible. I hope the PSC throws the book at every single person who did this, including BH.