Tomorrow is a day of reckoning for some implicated in APS cheating

Tomorrow will be a fateful day for some of the APS employees implicated in the cheating scandal.

I don’t think Thursday’s decision by the Professional Standards Commission will be the end; some educators will take this to court. I think there could be years of litigation ahead.

According to the AJC:

The Professional Standards Commission will hand down the first formal punishments in one of the largest test-cheating cases in U.S. history. About 180 Atlanta Public Schools employees were implicated and test tampering was uncovered at 44 schools.

The commission, which certifies and polices Georgia educators, will decide the fate of about a dozen APS educators Thursday. It is expected to hear cases through January.

The commission can issue a range of punishments, from a warning to a certificate revocation. That punishment is separate from APS’s efforts to fire the teachers or possible criminal charges.

Administrators will be subject to the stiffest punishment, the commission told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Those in charge, from principals to former superintendent Beverly Hall, created a culture that either ignored or should have detected widespread test cheating, the investigation concluded.

“Those in leadership have the ability to influence the behavior of many others,” said Kelly Henson, executive secretary of the commission. “We felt it should be a more severe sanction.”

Each case will be considered individually, but the commission has established some punishment guidelines : two years suspension for teachers and certificate revocation for administrators.

A revocation could severely damage an educator’s public school career, as the sanction would show up in a national database searchable by other states.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

23 comments Add your comment

True Justice

October 12th, 2011
10:49 am

I was pleased to read that the focus for severe penalties will be reserved for top level administrators. They are the culprits truly responsible for the disgrace and shame our great city has received.

Hopefully, Beverly Hall and her top assistants will be prosecuted.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

October 12th, 2011
11:02 am

Will those that received certificate revocation be allowed counseling or some other silly program so they might be eligible for reinstatement?

Relax

October 12th, 2011
11:06 am

@ True Justice

Be patient:

Beverly “Jamaican Fats” Hall, Kathy “Cat Man” Augustine, Sharron “Organ Grinder” Pitts, Millicent “Down Low” Few, and others will all have their day.

Woody

October 12th, 2011
11:19 am

The mechanics of how this scandal operated seem elusive to me. My guess is that although many of the guilty administrators were far too slippery to mandate cheating outright, that ultimatums were given and underlings knew exactly what was required of them to keep their jobs. So, there is justice in stiffer penalties at the top of the ladder. Whether the pressure came directly from principals attempting to achieve unrealistic goals, or clandestinely from regional supervisors without the knowledge of some principals, or was communicated through some other untraceable route, will take years to sort out I’m sure, and in fact we may never know the full truth of this sordid affair that probably caught some very good people in its web. Fault lies in NCLB itself. Some fault surely lies with the school board, who consistently hired flamboyant superintendents who were quite comfortable with promising the moon. Oh, and uh, who elected the school board? uh huh.

Beverly Fraud

October 12th, 2011
12:32 pm

I think it’s a shame the powers that be didn’t listen to Maureen’s advice, and have Beverly Hall remain at the helm for the “stability” she provided.

Knowing the “stability” she provided, I’m sure one and all would agree that she would have created a level of comfort that would have allowed teachers to come forth without any fear of reprisal.

I’m sure you all would agree, especially considering Maureen has educated us all on the fact that retaliation is very much a rare occurrence in the life of teachers.

@ Woody

October 12th, 2011
12:35 pm

@ Woody – Excellent analysis…Well stated!

Ultimately fault must be placed at the source: NCLB

Of course, the ruthless administrators who placed unending pressure on principals and teachers cannot be excused

Good Mother

October 12th, 2011
1:12 pm

So glad to see this coming. I am eagerly awaiting the criminal trials.

@ Beverly Fraud

October 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

Blow the Whistle! Are you kidding? The atmosphere of intimidation is alive and well in APS. Bring back Fat Bev, at least we knew we were not respected. There have been no real changes, only talk…cheap talk!

APS Middle School Teacher

Jenna

October 12th, 2011
1:37 pm

You need God @Good Mother

To Jenna from Good Mother

October 12th, 2011
1:45 pm

So your point is what, Jenna? That I am Godless because I want justice?

God is a big proponent of justice.

Karma

October 12th, 2011
2:06 pm

@ @Beverly Fraud – The comment you are responding to was meant to be sarcastic.

Jerry Eads

October 12th, 2011
2:17 pm

Interesting start. @woody, as we all know, I agree: NCLB is the real culprit. I could harken back to even blaming Teddy, rip, who got bought by the right wing (not to be confused with conservative) to support the bill with free trips to Alaska for the student kids of his constituents. (Yes, it’s in the law.)

RULE 1: ANY measure, when made high stakes, WILL become corrupted. Not necessarily with cheating, but a high stakes measure will cease to mean what we wanted it to mean. No exceptions, as long as it can be manipulated (ponder what happens in the private sector with sales quotas, or in traffic enforcement with ticket quotas). Dr. Barge’s effort to bring multiple measures (instead of one test that’s totally useless as an indicator of educational quality even in low stakes) to the table is HIGHLY laudable. The horsepower required to put that together and make it work will be considerable, but I’d wager he already knows that. Rule 1 still applies.

In any case, the time has come to pay the piper. Having worked with them for years, my take is that the investigators at the PSC will do every justice (sorry :-) ) to the process. The Commissioners (who do this totally above and beyond their day jobs for nothing more than travel expenses) must depend on those folks for accurate information, and they deliver. @no, I believe there are some cases in which a revoked cert can be reinstated, but the probability that even someone with a two-year suspension, much less a revocation, will ever teach again anywhere in the country is very, very close to zero.

Beverly Fraud

October 12th, 2011
2:17 pm

Sarcastic? How dare you insult Maureen that way Karma! Was she being sarcastic when she advocated that Beverly Hall remain at the helm for the “stability” she provided?

I think not.

Your Conscience

October 12th, 2011
4:58 pm

To the administrators of APS

DID YOU FORGET WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS… And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
Mathew 25:40

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW!

Don't Feed the Good Mother Troll

October 12th, 2011
5:49 pm

She/he/it is back!

APS 4th grade teacher & a Proud Cheater!

October 12th, 2011
7:55 pm

I wish the best for my colleagues who for the most part had no choice but to cheat. The pressure was and continues to be insurmountable for all students to make inordinate end of the year test score gains. As I have mentioned before we have been forced to scuttle quality instruction that fosters high level creative thinking for mind numbing rote, skill and drill approaches that parrot what is on the test. It negates all that I strived for in pursuing National Board Certification. A robot could better fulfill the calling.

Many of us cheat to spare our students this agony and to expose them to the joy of experientially based instruction so that they may make connections and applications to the real world. Without such opportunities, schools can easily become bastions of boredom, repositories for inappropriate behaviors and of course, failure.

I have never expected a ringing endorsement of my position. I cheat in subtle ways at the end of the year so that I can provide the type of instruction I would want for my own children throughout the year. Teaching explicitly to the test, as we are asked to do, invalidates the test and the purpose of testing. The true value of assessment has been perverted into a monster.

I would like to close with what I think appropriately amplifies the bizarre approach that APS teachers are confronted with. It is, I feel, a statement in jest, but realistically loaded with the everyday reality that we hear from our principal and grade level leaders. I am indeed honored to quote from one of this blog’s most esteemed, prolific contributors – Beverly Fraud:

“ If we can rigorously reform the reform with rigorousness, we will be able to revise the revisions in such a way that will bring rigor to the revision process, all while reforming the revisions in a way that will reform the revisions in a rigorous way.”

Thank you very much,

Fighting in the Trenches

long time educator

October 12th, 2011
9:19 pm

@Proud Cheater,
If you are confessing to cheating, I hope you realize that your IP address can be traced and you may be talking to the GBI real soon. There is no justification for cheating, ever.

justbrowsing

October 12th, 2011
9:21 pm

@ APS 4th grade teacher- absolutely splendid!!! I so enjoyed your post!!!!

APS 4th grade teacher & a Proud Cheater!

October 12th, 2011
10:17 pm

I gladly welcome the forensic capacities of the GBI, FBI and any other I’s.

The investigators know that they have merely revealed the tip of the iceberg. Cheating is endemic, systemic and so rampant that there are not enough resources to accommodate the guilty (they’re at wits end with the 180 or so and the millions for salaries and legal fees). Cheating is par the course at schools serving large populations of ask risk students that are regularly “meeting” Adequate Yearly Progress goals. The investigative reporters know:

“The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians. In layman’s terms, that means a classroom corrected its answers so much more often than the rest of the district that it could have occurred roughly one in 30,000 times by chance.”

Quite frankly, only the most blatant cases are being reviewed for disciplinary action.

They really don’t want someone such as me and many others to “bring the house down” with our pervasive knowledge of the corruption. I say, bring all those I’s

Thank you very much,
Fighting in the Trenches

Sharon Pitts must Go

October 13th, 2011
8:08 am

Ok so if they are suspended then Sharon Pitts, lead council will be in charge of firing them form APS…what a joke…she was one of the top thugs and is still in charge

X Teacher

October 13th, 2011
11:04 am

This is a hot mess. I was a teacher for APS for 9 years and was let go just before the $h*t hit the fan. I refused to cheat, I notified parents, I reported to the ethics hotline about cheating, lack of support for students with special needs, and improper relationships between the principal and a student and the principal is still in place. NCLB is the source of the cheating environment, but there must be more transparency in administration so that people do not become drunk with power and think that they can do anything to our children and not be dealt with. Oh well, i guess they can in Atlanta Public Schools.
These schools are a mess and unless we reinvent them, our future seems bleak!

X Teacher

October 13th, 2011
11:29 am

These teachers are being used as scape goats for the corruption in racist educational data, the politics of educating “other people’s children”,the bias and unreliable testing, and a failing curriculum.

X Teacher

October 13th, 2011
11:30 am

And a failed Administration