The AJC has a breaking news story this morning that five Atlanta schools are being placed under state control based on evidence of years of test cheating.
The five schools are Parks Middle, Dobbs Elementary, Harper-Archer Middle, Kennedy Middle and Gideons Elementary, which the state says only made Adequate Yearly Progress for five years because they cheated. The worst of the lot was Gideons, which the DOE said cheated for 10 years and didn’t deserve AYP status for any of those years.
I was unclear on the extent of the state’s presence in these schools under this plan but Matt Cardoza of the state DOE told me, “The state monitors routinely but they aren’t taking control of the school.”
I’m not sure that we can declare victory here yet for the students in these schools as state monitors in other places haven’t led to great leaps in achievement levels.
“It’s an about-face for them,” said Cardoza, noting that some schools that had been classified as distinguished for their academic achievement are now considered at the highest levels of “needs improvement.
State monitors will now take control of these schools. Administrators at the schools will have to develop turnaround plans and channel some of their funding into tutoring and other services for students, he said.
John Barge, state school superintendent, said: “I don’t think any of the parents will be surprised.”
One encouraging sign, Barge said, was that about half of the schools made AYP for this school year. Gideons, Parks and Dunbar were not among them.
All 45 schools were found to have cheated and lost AYP status for 2009, the year for which cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test was revealed. Those results shed light on what state investigators later found was years of cheating.