Are there valid reasons for unusual test score improvements at APS schools?

crcted.0920 (Medium)The AJC reports that APS is looking at CRCT gains in five elementary schools after the newspaper’s analysis identified unusual deviations. The schools are Toomer, White, Morningside, West Manor and Wesley International Academy.

The story — which is complex and which you ought to read — notes that the schools have unique circumstances that could explain the deviations. APS school chief Erroll Davis told the paper, “Those schools are all on the radar because of the jumps, but we don’t know yet whether there are plausible explanations. I would certainly not jump to a conclusion that cheating has occurred.”

According to the AJC:

They were registering exceptional gains on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, so exceptional that an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found the odds of such increases range from about one in 700 to one in 21,000.

The odds that these improvements were obtained by honest means aren’t as long as the AJC has found in the past, but they are still statistically unusual. Principals and parents say the improvements were due to exceptional efforts, but others say the scores deserve a closer look.

Increases of the magnitude found by the AJC in this year’s test are “unusual,” said Kathleen Mathers, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. She didn’t review the newspaper’s work but said such score jumps ”may warrant a closer examination of the test environment.”

Three of the schools accused by state investigators of cheating in 2009 — Toomer, White and West Manor elementary schools — were among those registering unlikely increases in their CRCT test scores this year. For instance, the third-graders at East Atlanta’s Toomer notched a 75 percent increase over the rate at which the third-graders in the prior year met or exceeded the state standard in math for 2011.

Experts working for new Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis, who was hired in the wake of the cheating scandal, reviewed the AJC’s findings and saw the same sharp increases when they ran the numbers themselves.

Enrollment declines of a fifth or more at three of the schools — Toomer, White and Wesley International Academy, a charter school — could explain some of the improbable score increases. But Davis said the increases merited scrutiny and that system officials would look into it.

A reader already sent me a deeper look at Morningside Elementary, questioning whether the historically high-achieving intown school had lost some of its disadvantaged students who could have contributed to lower scores. These issues are not raised in the AJC news story, but bear exploration.

Here is the reader’s note:

Look at the Morningside Fifth Grade numbers for reading…if there is 3+ Standard Deviation each SD is appx 4

Avg Score            Exceeds               Failure

2008       849.74                   55.4                        4.6

2009       852.33                   57.1                        2.1

2010       858.79                   67.6                        1.6

2011       871.88                   84.4                        1.0

The observation is that failure rates have been decreasing and that the “exceeds” group has been consistently increasing. So the real question is cohort groups.  These classes need to be  compared Third Grade Scores to Third Grade scores. Is it a population/cohort group difference? Is the current class cohort group in question just that much better to begin with?

Or:

Has Morningside done a better job of teaching to the test?

Secondarily, has Morningside with its large population of transient, shelter students excluded them from the test scores. More accurately: Aren’t the shelter students from Midtown now at SPARK, who would have been at MES two years ago (for this class)?  The timeline for the school opening and funneling Midtown students out of MES to SPARK needs to be factored in to the analysis, and AJC I don’t think had the knowledge of this to do so…

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

112 comments Add your comment

Lucy

July 28th, 2011
12:44 pm

It sounds like somebody hasn’t learned anything from 2009.

Maureen – I have heard that at least one teacher who was implicated in the report has been asked to return to the classroom next week. Is the AJC finding out anything about this?

SPARKY

July 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Well, SPARK had 85% exceeds for the same 5th grade reading test. Doiesn’t look like any low-scorers were dumped off into SPARK.

Former SPARK parent

July 28th, 2011
12:51 pm

Our son attended Morningside for a year. Becky Pruitt (the principal) doesn’t need numbers. She’s already got them. The kids who go to MES are predominantly high-upside kids from engaged, affluent families. Why would scores rise so quickly at MES?

In order of probability:

1: Most of the few low-perforrming students (from non-English-speaking households which, sadly, often do not encourage their children to learn English) were moved over to SPARK, which is closer to what many Va-Hi residents refer to (in a very politically incorrect way) as “The Barrio.” (Yes, Va-Hi has one).

2. The relief of overcrowded conditions at MES (due to the construction of SPARK) improved conditions in general at MES, leading to what John Trotter would call a better learning environment, and therefore a better teaching environment.

It’s possible there was cheating–sure, why not? At this point I’d believe anything. But it would be hard to run that around Becky Pruitt, who is a smart, hands-on principal.

SPARKY

July 28th, 2011
12:56 pm

Plus, this same cohort only had 68% “exceeds” in 3rd grade.

Current 3rd grade Read for MES is 76% exceeds.

Not sure that it’s cheating but it isn’t explained away by cohorts or offloading kids into SPARK.

SPARKY

July 28th, 2011
12:59 pm

Former,

“The Barrio” kids did ok considering SPARK scored higher than MES.

Again, these standard deviations are not astonomical for MES. Odds are these leaps will occur somewhere in the State.

Steve Perry on CNN says

July 28th, 2011
1:09 pm

So they take away 10 minutes from PE and Art to drill math? Isn’t this a form of cheating? We are claiming 60 minutes of art or PE but cheating the student and the state 10 minutes.

catlady

July 28th, 2011
1:24 pm

It could be : 1)} different students, 2) different instructional types (must really be something else), 3) easier tests (many of us think this, but it should show up at every school), or 4) intangible prompts like voice inflection. I don’t think we will see the erasure method again for awhile. Isn’t it funny how the “method” APS students were supposedly “taught” before (guess, then go back and think about it and erase) which many of us called a big BS to, have been so quickly forgotten. (No one in their right mind would have EVER taught that “strategy” to kids in the first place. Very poor, stupid LIE!) Were these schools heavily monitored THIS year as well?

Dr NO

July 28th, 2011
1:26 pm

I was just reading that article. Seems more Yummy Goodness is on it way….YYIIPPPPPEEEEE!!!

‘Unusual’ jumps
in CRCT scores
Atlanta officials say increases at several schools merit scrutiny.

Digger

July 28th, 2011
1:29 pm

Dang Teachers! Thanks to you, no one can cheat and not get caught now. Therefore, the scores in Atlanta will always reflect the IQ distributions bestowed by Nature, and we just can’t wrap our little minds around that. Woe is us!

momma

July 28th, 2011
1:40 pm

West Manor was definitely monitored this year and the year before. I don’t know if a teacher would really risk a career to cheat for another teacher (the teachers did not proctor their own classes).
AJC schould dig much deeper on this issue. Our school, over the past two years, has gotten an influx of kids from private schools , charter schools and out -of -neighborhood schools. These kids are bright and motivated, as are their families. These students did well at their previous schools AND at West Manor.

Dr NO

July 28th, 2011
1:48 pm

These “teachers” cant ever successfully teach cheating…LOL.

Delicious, just delicious.

Michael Schulz

July 28th, 2011
1:52 pm

Morningside Elementary’s 2011 5th Grade Students had the Highest AVG Mean Scale Score across all Disciplines in the entire State. Yes, Ranked 1st out of more than the 1200+ elementary schools statewide by this measure. This type of performance is not new.

Results for the last 3 years:

Average Mean Scale Score – All Disciplines

Year / Score / Statewide Rank
2009 / Score: 876.944 / Statewide rank: 2nd
2010 / Score: 873.598 / Statewide rank: 3rd
2011 / Score: 887.588 / Statewide rank: 1st

Here are Morningside’s results for 2011 by discipline for 5th grade in 2011 and corresponding statewide rank:

Reading: 871.88 / Statewide rank: 2nd
ELA: 871.65 / Statewide rank: 3rd
Math: 890.48 / Statewide rank: 6th
Science: 910.98 / Statewide rank: 1st
Social Studies: 877.24: 2nd

Congratulations Morningside!

jerry peters

July 28th, 2011
2:14 pm

Research, as cited by GBI investigators and university test assessment consultants, has time and again indicated that group learning leaps such as those reported by the AJC are highly unlikely. This type of anomaly, if accepted, would be cause for invalidating CRCT results district wide.

Instances of such leaps are more likely to be considered valid in isloated instances or on a per student basis.

k teacher

July 28th, 2011
2:38 pm

You can’t compare last year’s 3rd graders to this year’s 3rd graders. Completely different children, completely different dynamics. That’s the biggest flaw of NCLB and Merit Pay.

Ole Guy

July 28th, 2011
3:26 pm

Remember those Charlie Brown cartoons where Lucy holds the ball while ole Chuck goes in for the kick…at the last moment, Luck pulls the ball back and the hapless Chuck, having, once again, “fallen for it”, winds up on his six.

How many times is the public…much less, the education community…to, once again, “fall for it”.There are been so many “smoke and mirrors” tricks within the ed camp that, at some point in time, the public HAS to stop believing fairy tales.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 28th, 2011
3:28 pm

I know somebody who can make good sense out of all this.

@Maureen

July 28th, 2011
3:39 pm

“The fifth-graders at Morningside Elementary School … had increases in reading scores [somewhere between] 3.1 to 3.5 standard deviations above the average.”

“They were registering exceptional gains on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, so exceptional that an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found the odds of such increases [were somewhere between] one in 700 [and] one in 21,000.”

“The odds that these improvements were obtained by honest means aren’t as long as the AJC has found in the past, but they are still statistically unusual.”

Maureen, as former SPARK Parent said, cheating is always a possibility (whatever scores are doing). But it seems to me incredibly irresponsible for the AJC to run this article, implying that the fifth grade teachers at Morningside were cheating, based on an unusual ncrease in scores between 2010 and 2011, without evening mentioning that the fifth grade population was split between two elementary schools in 2011.

So I’m sitting here reading the article over and over, trying to figure out why the AJC did this. Honestly, did the reporters and editors just not know when they wrote and published this piece that the school had had a huge population change the very year when the data was so “unusual”? Or did they know about the school split, but not have the demographic data to try determine whether that was the likely cause, and so just decided to ignore the split?

TheLoneWatchman

July 28th, 2011
4:04 pm

If concerned taxpayers, parents, teachers, administrators, & journalists continue to focus their discussion(s) on anything other than grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, penmanship, mastery of fractions, word problems, fundamentals of science, art, & music, & good citizenship, then the ensuing wastage of time & energy will lead to the same result as always: outraged taxpayers, frustrated parents, feckless administrators, burned-out teachers, ill-prepared & under-educated pupils, & wealthier testing services & statisticians.

The students who took the test in 2011 are not the same ones who took it in 2010 who were not the same ones who took it in 2009, etc. Discussion of “improvement” of the test scores is totally meaningless. The only way to attempt to measure the effectiveness of the schools/teachers/curricula in question is to administer TO THE SAME STUDENTS a similar, but grade-level adjusted test the following year(s). What this issue does reveal is the total cluelessness of the parents, teachers, administrators, & journalists who waste precious time & effort trying to interpret the test result statistics. If you want to understand what is going on in the schools, FOLLOW THE MONEY. We have been bamboozled & swindled by people, masquerading as educators, whose livelihoods depend on their ability to sell test result statistics & interpretations of those statistics. It’s called the P.T. Barnum Factor.

not shocked

July 28th, 2011
4:12 pm

It’s Deja Vu all over again…..
- Yogi Berra

Cammi317

July 28th, 2011
4:15 pm

This is getting old. The AJC is on a witch hunt. Admittedly, my daughter is in private school, so I really don’t have a “horse in this race”. However, all of this is over the CRCT which is a worthless waste of time. Notice none of the states way up on the education scales even bother to give this test. It’s not a national test, it doesn’t tell us how our children rate on a national average. It’s just a “bone” the government threw out to encourage dreams of free money to the schools. I have no understanding of why everyone is surprised it ended this way. I am sure everyone had good intentions and thought it was a great idea in the beginning, just one more standardized test and free money will follow. The problem was the children were not testing well on this…say it with me again…insignificant test. Slowly everyone stopped teaching the children to learn and instead focused on teaching them to past this one insignificant test. All to gain money and bonus checks. The CRCT was never about children learning, it was about…say it again, free money. Here’s a radical idea, drop the CRCT and let teachers start teaching again.

Michael Schulz

July 28th, 2011
4:22 pm

The CRCT data’s first line for each discpline is number of students tested. For Morningside, 2010, 145 students in 5th Grade, however in 2011, only 96. That is a BIG change and should not have been overlooked.

@SPARKY

July 28th, 2011
4:25 pm

SPARKY wrote:

“SPARK had 85% exceeds for the same 5th grade reading test. Doiesn’t look like any low-scorers” [or more accurately, historically lower-scoring neighborhoods, since these weren't the same kids, but rather consecutive fifth grade classes] were redistricted to SPARK.

Don’t be so sure:

As Former SPARK Parent said on this blog (July 6th, 2011):

“By the way, a lot of age groups at SPARK got 100% passing rates in this year’s CRCTs. It’s a credit to those kids. But their teachers force-fed them CRCT prep all year long under the direction of principal Yolonda Brown (whose former school, CW Hill, had a 29% suspicious-erasure rate while she was there) while SPARK’s wonderful Mac lab and computer cart and iPod Touch cart were barely touched. So SPARK parents, your kids spent the year memorizing test prep when they could have been creating wonderful photo slideshows, or composing a piece of music, or editing a video for their classroom blog–except wait–there ARE no such blogs, because blogs don’t help Yolonda Brown’s teachers hit their CRCT numbers. Give me a choice between having my child essentially study all year for the CRCT and having them actually CREATE something; having them EXPLORE something; having them become INSPIRED. Parents of high-upside children should be just as pissed off about Beverly Hall and the all-important CRCT as the parents of those children who were cheated.”

Don't Understand

July 28th, 2011
4:45 pm

We can be certain it isn’t because the kids are actually learning anything.

Justice seeker

July 28th, 2011
4:51 pm

The AJC loves this story. They don’t like the story of the ethics complaint filed (and now pending) against Kathleen Mathers (Executive Director of GOSA) and Gary Walker (Director of Educator Ethics at PSC) for dishonesty in the course of filing and pursuing an ethics complaint against an innocent and honest educator. That educator was eventually cleared and vindicated, but will always have to answer “yes” if ever asked on a job application if they have ever been investigated for an ethics allegation. Do you think that even though that educator was cleared that any prospective employer won’t be influenced by the allegation?

Kathleen Mathers in particular repeatedly wrote letters containing allegations she knew were false, but did it apparently “for the political witch hunt.” The AJC and Maureen have this story but won’t pursue it. Maybe they don’t want to upset their friends/sources in the government. Who knows, but the violations committed by these people are real and damaged this particular educator. I have been to the circus also known as the Professional Standards Committee public sessions and it appears that Mathers has forced many school districts to refer educators for ethics violations even though the district had performed thorough investigations and found no evidence of wrong doing. Why can’t the AJC investigate this travesty of the thuggish government boot coming down on innocent people? Maureen won’t answer….

Producer

July 28th, 2011
4:56 pm

Look at the stats for last generation and a half. Georgia’s kids have ranked between 46-50. Of course the data isn’t valid. My Golden Retriever could beat a typical Georgia student two out of three times in tic-tac-toe. Our students are a farm team for the drive-through window. How embarrassing!

CLLlink

July 28th, 2011
4:57 pm

Now that the schools have been turned inside out time for administrative staff to be checked

Maureen Downey

July 28th, 2011
5:01 pm

@Maureen, I sent your comment to our database analyst who shared these observations:

If it’s true, obviously that could affect the scores. But:

4th grade number tested in 2010: 98
5th grade number tested in 2011: 96

We also gave the district our results well in advance of the story running and asked them if they knew of any possible explanations. They said that their own analysis produced the same results and they’re going to look into what’s behind the big jumps. So I guess we should stay tuned.

Maureen

Me

July 28th, 2011
5:15 pm

“Enrollment declines of a fifth or more at three of the schools”

where did they hide them?

Laurie

July 28th, 2011
5:16 pm

“That is a BIG change and should not have been overlooked.”

Yes, indeedy. Thanks Michael. I was scrambling to find a rough estimate of that same
data from my old filed sheet on “projected” student population at Morningside, SPARK, and Mary Lin, but your data is the real thing, the actual count. And apparently it was really really easy to get. Anyone who had the CRCT data itself (such as the AJC) had to also see how dramatically the population had changed.

So, yeah, 145 versus 96. One would have thought that a redistricting of one third of the grade’s population would have been relevant enough to mention in the AJC article.

I’m certainly not against the AJC, or APS, or Georgia checking into strange jumps in the statistics (though it seems that the inquiry, if any, in this case, would extend to both Morningside and SPARK). But when there are plausible explanations for changes, obvious from the data itself, it’s a serious omission not to mention it.

I was thinking… Even aside from the changes in the demographics at Morningside that occurred when a third of its population was redistricted, it does in fact make sense that might see an improvement the average scores over both schools. After all, one of the reasons you build a second school to relieve overcrowding at a first school is that you think it may improve the learning environment of ALL of the kids. My child was one of those who attended a dramatically overcrowded Morningside Elementary School for many years. They had portables for most of their specials. I remember being invited in to her challenge class one day when she was making a presentation. I couldn’t hear her speak over the air conditioner. I remember her coming home from school fussy and exhausted and eventually realizing that she wasn’t eating between her 10 a.m. snack and her return on the bus at almost 4 p.m. Why? Because the overcrowding in the cafeteria meant the time she’d stood in the lunch line for her milk, she had only about 5 minutes to eat. For that matter, I remember her getting home from school at almost 4 p.m. for the first several months of school, on a non-airconditioned bus so overcrowded that children had to stand in the aisles while the bus was moving. (Had she taken the bus to school in the morning, she would have spent 135 minutes per day going to and from school – at age 7.) I remember her not having a dab of energy after that stressful hour-long afternoon bus ride for homework or math facts or anything.

Is it any surprise that when you take a population of students crammed into one school, and divide them up among two schools, you might get a very significant improvement in their learning environment?

Is that the reason for the increase? I’ve no idea.

But when Suzanne Lane, “an expert on statistics and testing” contacted by the AJC, opines ominously and with the authority of her training that “one of two things could be driving up the scores” – either “something profound is happening with respect to instruction,” or (she implies) cheating’s occurring … I’m guessing that y’all didn’t give her this relevant info.

Digger

July 28th, 2011
5:22 pm

In the school bus. At the back.

Ellen

July 28th, 2011
5:28 pm

An accoomplishment left over from “Doctor” Augustine’s leadership :

Inside Scoop –

Harvard degree??? Principals and other administrators who are able to pay to participate in Harvard and other on-line programs are almost always accepted. Often district administrators, especially from large districts, pass their university research assigments on as a “special project” to someone in their Reasearch & Evaluation Departments for later use in dissertations.

Big Joke: Would Augustine have been allowed to attend Harvard as a regular student upon completing high school?

Don’t be duped! Cheating, stealing & lying are intimately and intricately related.

Digger

July 28th, 2011
5:29 pm

It just hit me. Teachers get hammered if their scores are too low. Teachers get hammered if their scores are too high. Kick em when they’re up, kick em when they’re down. I’m kinda starting to feel sorry for ‘em.

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2011
6:12 pm

@catlady. Your comment: “Isn’t it funny how the “method” APS students were supposedly “taught” before (guess, then go back and think about it and erase) which many of us called a big BS to, have been so quickly forgotten.”

I would think that was crazy, except when the scandal first broke, my child, who attended Morningside explained to me that that could be an explanation, BEFORE it was ever printing anywhere. She told me that was a “test strategy” that was taught. AND, she attended Morningside Elementary. A school of upper middle class students, the least likely of students who would need that particular strategy.

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2011
6:15 pm

Knowing the Morningside community as I do, I think the 2008 scores of only 55.4% exceeds is much more suspect that the 2011 scorces of 84% exceeding.

Disappointed Teacher

July 28th, 2011
6:38 pm

This is nonsense! I work at MES and I can assure you we are not a cheating school now nor have we been in the past. Our teachers work diligently to make sure the students’ learning deficits are met. They also spend a great deal of time extending and enriching the content and curriculum. If you look across the metro area you will see gains on this year’s CRCT in most schools. It is the opinion of several teachers that this year’s test was much easier than those of past years. Our scores didn’t go up because we lost a particular segment of our population. We still have quite a few kids receiving extra support, etc…and the school that absorbed our overflow actually performed better than we did. Lastly, anyone actually working in a school environment would know that ALL schools were monitored closely during the 2011 CRCT….one couldn’t have cheated even if they wanted to for that matter! In light of what’s happened in some APS schools, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon. However, in this instance, we are an outstanding school, with a wonderful and sharp school leader, and a talented, HONEST, and dedicated staff.

Vince

July 28th, 2011
6:46 pm

..or maybe Morningside just does a good job of analyzing their yearly data and making adjustments to what they do.

Really though, as alluded to by Catlady….The AJC needs to compare how Morningside (and the other schools) 2nd graders did last year to how they did this year in 3rd grade….or how the 4th graders did last year compared to this year’s 5th graders.

THEN you might have a story.

This really means nothing.

@Maureen

July 28th, 2011
6:58 pm

Maureen wrote:

“4th grade number tested in 2010: 98
5th grade number tested in 2011: 96″

OK, but I’m not sure how that is relevant… Are we all misinterpreting the AJC’s article? The article says: “The fifth-graders at Morningside Elementary School had increases in reading scores ranging from 3.1 to 3.5 standard deviations above the average.” I assumed that meant that the 2011 5th graders had strangely increased scores in comparison with the 2010 5th graders, not that the 2011 5th graders had strangely increased scores in comparison with the 2010 4th graders (i.e., dramatic increases in the same kids as they moved from 4th to 5th grade). And it seems from the comments of others here (including the reader whose letter you featured) that that’s how they’re interpreting the article as well.

Maureen also wrote: “We also gave the district our results well in advance of the story running and asked them if they knew of any possible explanations. They said that their own analysis produced the same results and they’re going to look into what’s behind the big jumps.”

If my understanding of the AJC article is correct (5th to 5th grade comparison), then it appears that neither the AJC nor APS knows the history of these APS elementary schools; perhaps the AJC can let APS know the following history:

1. Morningside got way overcrowded.
2. APS bought property to build a new school, but they had to actually build and renovate the buildings to accommodate a full elementary school population, so they couldn’t start a new school right away.
3. To relieve some of the overcrowding immediately, they created a Morningside Elementary School kindergarten annex at the new school’s site. I think this was in 2007??
4. In 2009, the kindergarten annex ended and the new school opened as Springdale Park Elementary. Kids in the newly delineated SPARK geographical area were redistricted into that school from Morningside and Mary Lin. Kindergarteners who were in Morningside’s geographical, of course, attended Morningside, and kindergarteners in SPARK’s area attended SPARK.
5. However, 100% of fifth graders were grandfathered in to their prior schools – Morningside or Mary Lin. There were no fifth graders at SPARK in 2009-2010. That’s why Morningside’s 5th grade CRCT results for 2010 show 145 students taking the test. 5th grade kids who otherwise would have been in SPARK’s geographical district were still attending Morningside.
6. In 2010 those 5th graders had graduated. The previous year’s Morningside 4th graders moved up to be Morningside’s 5th graders. That’s why the 2011 results show 96 5th grade students taking the test.

If, on the other hand, the AJC article really meant that they had undertaken a comparison of 2010 4th graders’ results against 2011 5th graders’ results, then these points are probably largely irrelevant. But in that case, perhaps the AJC’s article needs to be edited to make clear that it’s a 4th grade to 5th grade jump in scores that is causing suspicion.

Vince

July 28th, 2011
7:13 pm

@ Disappointed Teacher

I agree…this year’s CRCT was easier, or the cut scores were lower …or something.

newMESparent

July 28th, 2011
8:17 pm

We moved to the area in Dec and our daughter has been in MES since. We had only done private schools before….but I’m floored by the staff and involvement at Morningside. I was a public school and private school teacher for over 13 years and I’m super serious about my children’s education. I’ve been VERY impressed by the MES experience, no doubts at all. And also, if anyone thinks that the school could pull any kind of cheating over on the hundreds of parents that are involved and are THERE everyday…they are crazy. MES is the way a neighborhood school should be…great leadership, outstanding teachers and parents that are involved and willing to jump in and lend a hand.

Uh Oh the Tables are Turned

July 28th, 2011
8:33 pm

Seems like the Morningside supporters are coming out in droves….oh, no it’s impossible that a predominantly white school cheated. How dare you try to implicate the good of the tracks (enter sarcasm)? The black schools were tried, prosecuted, and given the death penalty before the ink was dry on the newspaper. Yet, horrors of horrors, “we” are now under investigation. Hey, Former….you think she’s a hands-on principal? I guess a couple of years ago when she forced a SEL to change special ed accommodations so every special ed student could have the test read to them less than a week before the test qualifies as real hands on!!! But I guess that’s ok….she’s got the right backing.
hands-on, huh?

Laurie@catlady

July 28th, 2011
8:44 pm

For catlady or anyone else. Is there any publicly available data that shows how many kids in a particular grade at a particular school had accommodations of various types? Specifically, how many had the test read to them?

Thanks Maureen for Not Discriminating

July 28th, 2011
8:52 pm

First, I would like to thank Maureen Downey for not discriminating and delivering the true facts about Morningside E.S. as she has all the other APSchools suspected of cheating. Thank you for having the courage and guts to do so! This is so strange to me now. But then again..it isn’t. When all the cheating evidence surfaced recently regarding schools where dramatic scores/increases were ruled statistically impossible, not one person questioned the validity of the report of the GBI & AJC findings. Everything that was printed was believed by the people. No hearing. No cross examination. No trial. Just GUILTY!

Good educators were forced to resign or face termination. Good principals’ (WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN CHEATING OCCURRED) images were tarnished, and now…….an affluent school on the north side of town is named with suspicious scores/increases and there is an OVERWHELMING response by readers indicating why “these score” could be statstically supported!

Yes cheating probably occurred at Morningside as well! Again. YES CHEATING PROBABLY OCCURRED AT MORNINGSIDE AS WELL! A big difference between Morningside and the other schools is that most of the Morningside staff/parents/key stakeholders are more educated and can “crunch” numbers/data to make it say whatever is needed.

All the excuses listed above…nonsense! Why is it that none of these things could have happened at any of the 58 schools where many employees were falsely accused? I am so glad that Maureen took the courage to write this article to include/name Morningside. Now let’s sit back and see what the authorities do to the Morningside folk. Dr. Errol Davis, we are waiting to see your response to this one. Probably nothing. WE STILL LIVE IN ANTEBELLUM GEORGIA.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 28th, 2011
9:02 pm

Who monitored the CRCTs in the schools whose data are being questioned? Were these monitors competent, experienced, disinterested test-monitors drawn from outside the APS, the ATL and The Empire State of the South? Nobody who’s ever owned a dog, much less one whose dog has kinfolk and/or pack-mates in the fight, should be allowed to supervise the “dog fight” that CRCT-testing in our state is becoming.

Disappointed in AJC

July 28th, 2011
9:04 pm

I work at one of these schools,(Wesley) we worked SO VERY HARD to give our students the tools to pass this test. I’m so frustrated and feel like we are being thrown under the bus… guilty before innocent. Instead of celebrating our hard work NOW we have to justify the results. It really makes me want to leave education for GOOD! Thanks AJC, way to motivate a teacher right before school starts. Now I’m scared to exceed?!

Former SPARK parent

July 28th, 2011
9:18 pm

I wondered how long it would take some idiot to play the “racial bitterness” card here. Turns out it was 8:33 pm.

Look, Uh-Oh, this is Obama’s post-racial America and we can all speak freely about either (a) Hispanic kids who don’t do well in school because their parents make a terribly misguided cultural choice not to embrace English, or (b) the fact that predominantly black schools in APS DID have rampant cheating, while there’s very little probability cheating occurred at MES.

No one here is “defending” Morningside–if there WAS cheating, I’d want everyone involved fired in a heartbeat and I would physically go to Erroll Davis’s office to insist on it. There should be an investigation, and no MES parent will be looking to spare anyone–including Becky.

I’m just pointing out the obvious: it’s very unlikely that with AYP assured– and in the midst of a heavily publicized chatting scandal– any educator at MES would choose to cheat, so those weird numbers likely have an explanation other than cheating. I could be wrong, and I did not exclude the possibility of cheating.

You, however, are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the scores in Atlanta’s predominantly-black schools were UNDENIABLY the result of cheating, and that yes, there is an important difference between Morningside and the many “cheating” schools. It has to do with the way the children in the respective schools are raised. I’d call that a cultural and socioeconomic difference, not a racial one, but you go ahead and call it race-based if it makes you feel better.

By the way, we have a SpEd child and there’s nothing wrong with having tests read to those kids–it’s a standard accommodation–what on EARTH are you talking about?

Incredulous

July 28th, 2011
9:27 pm

How can we expect to draw valid results from an invalid test? Why do we continue to buy the “lemon”?

Uh Oh the Tables are Turned

July 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

Wow. It is not a standard accommodation. Check your facts. The fact that they were changed less than a week before the test is the real issue here.

Thanks Maureen for Not Discriminating

July 28th, 2011
9:28 pm

I would like to thank Maureen Downey for not discriminating and printing the true facts to include Morningside. That took courage and I applaud you for it. It seems like it was only yesterday when the “report” hit the news, internet, and every television station. It must have run in the AJC every day, including this one. Everything printed in the report had apparently been stamped, sealed, and everything short of approval by GOD himself. The growth noted in those schools was statistically unsound. Many APS employees were falsely accused. Good principals were forced to resign, retire, or face termination. Loving teachers were taunted and their images were ruined because of false allegations. All of these occurrences transpired before any hearing, cross-examination, or appeal.
SUDDENLY!! MORNINGSIDE IS NAMED AS A SCHOOL WITH STATISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE RESULTS AND EXCUSES ARE FLYING EVERYWHERE! The statistically impossible results at Morningside suddenly becomes possible. WOW! All researchers, and others, know the reality associated with “crunching numbers” to make the data believable. Could any of these reasons (that are being provided by the Morningside crew) have also been possible solutions at any of the other 58 schools listed? Sorry. I was just asking. So…what was statistically impossible for some schools is possible for Morningside? I’m sorry folk but there was probably cheating at Morningside also.
Now the party begins. Let’s just sit back and see what investigation happens there? Will the GBI harass, interrogate, and intimidate employees the same way that they did others? Probably not. Will the superintendent send a letter to Becky Pruitt (principal) as he did others? Probably not. People wake up and see what’s going on around you. Nothing much has changed in ANTEBELLUM GEORGIA.

West Manor is Legit

July 28th, 2011
9:33 pm

Is this going to be the result of any APS school showing improvements year in and year out? West Manor Elementary School had two state monitors and two district monitors in the building throughout the entire 2011 testing period. No teacher tested their own students. The state monitors sealed the answer sheets closed every day with seals that showed the word void if they were removed. The state monitors were the only ones who were allowed to break the seals each morning. The tests were stored in a saferoom over night with a video camera on the outside of the saferoom door to capture the image of anyone opening the door and the time. There is also a video camera inside the safe room and an automatic light that switches on when someone walks into the room to capture the image of the person or persons in the safe room. The door to the safe room could not be opened nor the tests removed until the state monitors arrived. The state and district monitors walked the halls during the testing period looking into classrooms (without going in) through the door windows and could see everyone in the room including the test administrator. There were no reports of any problems. Shoot, the only thing left to do is take the entire staff out of the building and let Kathleen Mathers send in 20 – 25 state monitors to administer the darn test. West Manor’s scores are legit.

Thanks Maureen for Not Discriminating

July 28th, 2011
9:38 pm

And for the record, I do not believe that there was cheating on the recent test at White or West Manor Elementary Schools. The security was waaayyy toooo tight!