New AJC investigation casts doubts on integrity of testing nationwide. Is there a whole lot of cheating going on?

testing (Medium)In the cheating hall of fame, Atlanta may stand out, but it may not stand alone.

Nearly 200 school districts across the country have such suspicious test score patterns that the odds of them occurring by chance are worse than 1 in 1,000.  And in 33 of those districts, the odds are worse than one in a million.

In a powerhouse investigation in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the investigative reporting team that uncovered test disparities in Atlanta Public Schools reveals the findings of a seven-month analysis of 1.6 million records from 70,000 public schools nationwide.

Here is a link that will get you to the entire package, but plan to spend some time as it has multiple elements.

The AJC used freedom of information laws to collect test scores from 49 states — 14,743 districts and 70,000 tests –  to look for the sort of patterns that signaled cheating.

Along with our own database reporters, the AJC consulted outside experts to assess our analysis. (Please pick up a Sunday AJC as it will outline all the detailed work that went into this investigation and all the care to check and recheck the findings.)

To be clear, the new AJC national analysis doesn’t establish that cheating occurred. But it points to the same troubling  pattern later verified in Atlanta schools to be test tampering after a probe by an outraged Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The student performance rises and dips in many Atlanta schools turned out to be a seismograph of shame.

The findings also point to a universal truth: Hold people accountable to standards, benchmarks or quotas that they feel are unrelenting, unrealistic and unfair and some will cheat.

“We are putting way too much pressure on people to raise scores at a very large clip without holding them accountable for how they are doing it,” Daniel Koretz, a Harvard Graduate School of Education testing expert, told the AJC.

The AJC’s findings also raise questions about whether anyone knows yet how to succeed in schools with high concentrations of poor students; most of the districts with troubling test score swings were rural and urban districts steeped in poverty.

Some immediate questions come to mind as you read the in-depth investigation by AJC staffers Alan Judd, Heather Vogell, John Perry, M.B. Pell and Dayton Daily News database specialist Ken McCall.

Are we expecting too much of teachers instructing the toughest students?

By basing school evaluations on student test scores, are we using too narrow a lens to see what is truly happening in our schools, perhaps overlooking positive developments that are not reflected in a single score?

Are we escalating the pressure on educators by linking their reviews and salaries to student scores, creating even greater motivation to doctor test results?

As the story states:

“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement after being briefed on the AJC’s analysis. He added: “states, districts, schools and testing companies should have sensible safeguards in place to ensure tests accurately reflect student learning.”

In nine districts , scores careened so unpredictably that the odds of such dramatic shifts occurring without an intervention such as tampering were worse than 1 in a billion .

In Houston, for instance, test results for entire grades of students jumped two, three or more times the amount expected in one year, the analysis shows. When children moved to a new grade the next year, their scores plummeted — a finding that suggests the gains were not due to learning. {See response from Houston school chief here.}

Overall, 196 of the nation’s 3,125 largest school districts had enough suspect tests that the odds of the results occurring by chance alone were worse than 1 in 1,000. For 33 of those districts, the odds were worse than one in a million .

A few of the districts already face accusations of cheating. But in most, no one has challenged the scores in a broad, public way. The analysis shows that in 2010 alone, the grade-wide reading scores of 24,618 children nationwide — enough to populate a midsized school district — swung so improbably that the odds of it happening by chance were less than 1 in 10,000.

In Georgia, it fell to the governor’s investigators to prove cheating occurred. Led by two former top prosecutors, the Perdue investigation entailed 2,100 interviews and 800,000 documents and led to more than 80 confessions of cheating. State investigators accused a total of 38 principals with participating in test-tampering. Cheating was confirmed in 44 of 56 schools examined.

The findings toppled the much-heralded regime of Dr. Beverly Hall, and led to extensive upheaval in the leadership of the Atlanta schools.

The findings also sparked a national debate over whether schools teaching the least advantaged and most challenging students are being held to unattainable standards and whether test scores are a fair way to judge success.

The new AJC investigation is bound to reignite that debate.

Among the discoveries by the AJC team:

•Improbable scores were twice as likely to appear in charter schools as regular schools. Charters, which receive public money, can face intense pressure as supposed laboratories of innovation that, in theory, live or die by their academic performance.

•The newspaper found changes in test scores that were statistically improbable in nearly 20 cities, with swings in scores that were virtually impossible in about a half dozen. Human intervention is the most likely explanation  In some cities, we found so many dramatic shifts in scores that the odds of that happening by chance are one in 10 billion.

•In some cities, the results for entire grades of students jumped two, three or more times the amount expected in one year. The next year, when children moved to a new grade, their scores plummeted.

•Though high-poverty city schools were more likely to have suspicious tests, improbable scores also showed up in an exclusive public school for the gifted on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And they appeared in a rural district roughly 70 miles south of Chicago with one school, dirt roads and a women’s prison.

•The findings call into question the approach that dominated federal education policy over the past decade: Set a continuously rising bar and leave schools and districts essentially alone to figure out how to reach it.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

303 comments Add your comment

Digger

March 24th, 2012
12:02 pm

Given students with low inherent ability, NOTHING short of cheating will raise scores.

Dr. John Trotter

March 24th, 2012
12:54 pm

Yesterday at lunch, I read the article about the two fellows at Parks Middle School. So sad. And it is true that blaming just the teachers is a mistake. As we stated many times at MACE, the Beverly Hall Administration operated “a gangsta system.” People may have snickered at us when we used phrases like this phrase on our picket signs (and used the same phrase in DeKalb against the Crawford Long Administration) but I think everyone now knows that MACE was prescient in its views and impervious to the pain of criticism. We just kept pounding away at what the truth of the matter was.

The false gods of standardized testing (and we used this phrase over and over these past few years in many articles on our website about standardized testing) had educrats jumping around warehouses of gun powder (school houses) with hot poker irons, scaring the heck out of teachers who tried to stick to their principles. Too many succumbed, as evidenced by the recent investigation in the Atlanta Public Schools. But, the atmosphere and culture was set in place by the administration, in my opinion. I remember when a teacher told us that a very honest teacher reported to the APS authorities when she saw a fellow teacher cheat on the standardized tests. What happened? The reporting teacher was fired, and the teacher who allegedly cheated was made Teacher of the Year! Now if this doesn’t send a message, then what does? True story.

All of the so-called Miracle Workers in the past – Rod Paige in Houston, Michelle Rhee in D. C., et. al – are phony as three dollar bills. I have been saying this too for many years. Now, I see that the media is finally picking up on the sudden, precipitous rise in test scores. Anyone with a lick of sense about children and testing knows that these “miracles” don’t happen naturally. The “miracles” are not miracles at all; they are unscrupulous mirages created and pushed by the Elmer Gantries of Public Education. And, then, naïve legislative bodies like the Georgia General Assembly will invite one of these charlatans, like Michelle Rhee, to come speak words of wisdom (ugh!) to spongy minds. What did P. T. Barnum say? There’s a fool born every day! George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy of NCLB, the state legislatures, the publishing companies for testing, test preparations and study guides, etc., have made a complete circus of public education. How is that working out?

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:06 pm

Where’s Kathy Augustine to tell us “we expect outliers every year”?

Of course the real problem, is that we are not getting outliers, we are getting OUT and OUT LIARS.

Tony

March 24th, 2012
1:07 pm

Dr. Trotter – right on!

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:09 pm

is cheating that widespread?
hell yes. in fact, worse than the article implies.

sad part is, the cheating is just the tip of the iceberg.
harrassement, professional smears, misappropriation of money
out of control administrators …

education in this country, from K-college, is fatally broken.

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:12 pm

remember how back in the 60s people were warned of the “military/industrial complex” and big corporations?

pikers compaired to “big education”

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:13 pm

“All of the so-called Miracle Workers in the past – Rod Paige in Houston, Michelle Rhee in D. C., et. al – are phony as three dollar bills”

Dr. Trotter, I take strong objection to comparing Rhee and Paige to three dollar bills. At least when you recycle the paper from a three dollar bill, you have the potential to create something USEFUL.

And speaking of recycling, shouldn’t a certain “National Superintendent of the Year” Award be melted down by now and its materials used for a LEGITIMATE purpose, instead of giving “legitimacy” to a lie?

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:13 pm

BTW: if Sonny was so damned outraged, why didn’t he do something?
besides go fishing, that is.

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:17 pm

“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement after being briefed on the AJC’s analysis.

“Concerning”? This is an UNMITIGATED DISASTER.

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:18 pm

we’re not expecting too much of teachers in bad schools, because in reality we don’t expect anything from them.

they work hard, do what they can, and administration moves the beef from one grade to the next. especially if they play football or basketball.

education? nobody realistically expects those kids to get an education

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:19 pm

unmitigated disaster is being kind.
try FUBAR

bootney farnsworth

March 24th, 2012
1:22 pm

the moment the first non organic quota is put in place, the cheating will begin.

and frankly, considering what will be done to you if you resist, I can’t really blame anyone.

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:27 pm

Try fubar SQUARED

dekalbed

March 24th, 2012
1:35 pm

“Are we expecting too much of teachers instructing the toughest students?”

Depends on what the expectation is. If you mean actually instruct students, of course we are, especially when this day-to-day instruction means that teachers are not only expected to teach students concepts but also to teach students how to behave in a classroom and in life. If, however, we’re talking about the expectation that looks good on paper, but amounts to nothing else than data collection and edutainment, then no.

Parents, teachers, administrators, legislators, and businesses (textbook publishers, test creators, scoring agencies, evaluation creators, and evaluating agencies) are all complicit.

We all know that a child’s first years are crucial to intellectual development. We also know that everyone is not meant for college. Yet no one wants to recognize these issue and deal with them (at least not in Dekalb County or APS). So we allow a sixteen year-old, for example, who has failed 8th grade CRCTS and 9th grade EOCTS, to sit in a college preparatory math, social studies, science, or English class and pretend that he or she can still succeed-or even function-in a “differentiated classroom.” We pretend that one (or maybe even two adults) can inspire, instruct, and manage 35 (that is the maximum class size allowed by Georgia and used by Dekalb County) young adults of varying abilities, interests, and backgrounds. Sounds good in a movie but rarely translates to real life.

In the process, we deny so many students the opportunity to become engaged, participatory citizens who leave schools with knowledge and skills instead of bogus test scores and grades.

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
1:38 pm

“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement after being briefed on the AJC’s analysis.

Duncan is an idiot. Pure and simple.

After this is over will there be a single “Education Reform Star” left in the room?

It seems that every district Arne has held up as an example of exemplary leadership now has a cloud of doubt hanging over their accolades.

Any guesses on how this will shake out? I’m betting more testing, more instructional days lost, and more money wasted on standardized tests.

I’d love to see this investigation make a meaningful difference in our schools. I have my doubts, There’s too much money at stake for the ed reformers and they will not go away quietly.

It’s going to get worse…..not better.

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
1:38 pm

Kudos to the AJC for going after this story. Stick with it…and follow the money :)

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:39 pm

“Are we expecting too much of teachers instructing the toughest students?”

In a word, yes. And the reason so at the TOP of the list:

We are expecting teachers to teach these students without the AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE, and the AUTHORITY to hold them ACCOUNTABLE.

Dr. John Trotter

March 24th, 2012
1:41 pm

I want to commend the AJC for being the Fourth Estate again! The USA Today-look (with the little articles) brought to the AJC by the Martin fellow has been a disaster, in my opinion. Hard-hitting investigations are why people actually buy a copy of a newspaper. Tidbits of stuff can be easily retrieved from the internet. I liked the days of Rick Allen, Bill Shipp, Dick Williams, et al. People want a little meat on their local newspaper. I found myself going to the on-line versions of The Washington Post or the New York Times to find articles of a national scope. We need a local (Atlanta) newspaper to focus first on Georgia and then to investigage wider like in this piece today. Congrats on a job well done!

wxwax

March 24th, 2012
1:44 pm

This is why we need newspapers.

Good job, AJC.

Dr. John Trotter

March 24th, 2012
1:48 pm

@ dekalb: Vocational Education — in full force — should be returned to the public schools. These classes were invaluable in helping kids who were not college-bound to gain a skill and to secure a meaningful job. Why was Vocational Education jettisoned? Because of the push for increases in standardized test scores. These standardized tests were not testing sheet metal, auto mechanics, or plumbing. Pure and simple. This was the reason. No Child Left Behind and other legislative attempts to “reform” public education have done much more harm than good.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest

March 24th, 2012
1:51 pm

The AJC’s blockbuster investigation is the latest example of how the widespread, politically mandated misuse of standardized tests is damaging our public schools and the children they serve. Yes, cheating is very widespread — FairTest has documented confirmed cases of test score manipulation in 33 states plus the District of Columbia in just the past three academic years.

This scandal is the predictable result of over-reliance on test scores as our fact sheet “Tests, Cheating and Educational Corruption” (http://fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Cheating_Fact_Sheet_8-17-11.pdf) demonstrates. In fact, most high-stakes, standardized exam based practices violate the standards for professional assessment and, in many instances, the proper use guidelines of test-makers themselves.

At the same time, the testing obsession has neither significantly improved overall school performance nor closed persistent achievement gaps between racial groups, as demonstrated by the past decade’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results

Enhanced test security may reduce the number of reported problems, but a real solution requires a comprehensive overhaul of federal, state and local testing requirements. Politicians such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan need to stop mouthing platitudes and reexamine their own failed policies.

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

“Improbable scores were twice as likely to appear in charter schools as regular schools. ”

Well…isn’t that an interesting tidbit of information. Wonder what Chip Rogers and Jan Jones have to say about that?

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
1:53 pm

I liked the days of Rick Allen, Bill Shipp, Dick Williams, et al.

Let’s not forget the recently departed Furman Bisher.

And speaking of the VOLUMES of information on the Internet:

How much from the OTHER professional organizations in Georgia, can you find, where THEY were willing to take Beverly Hall to task for what APS truly was while she was winning national accolades?

Hmm…looks like even the Internet can’t produce much on that one LOL

Gtjohn

March 24th, 2012
1:58 pm

This problem will not go away as long as the federal government, funds controlled by the federal government are involved. Return schools to the local level, abolish the Dept of Ed. and federal interference and things will change for the better. Of course if parents do not care, nothing will change. It is not the responsibility if the federal government to be our momma and daddy for this or any other issue. Cheating is not the problem, it is a symptom.

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
2:03 pm

From Jamie Sarrio

“Almost 180 teachers were implicated in the scandal”

Why is Sarrio using the term teachers, instead of EDUCATORS? By now isn’t OBVIOUS that the pressure to cheat emanated from ADMINISTRATORS?

It’s inaccurate characterizations such as this that allows the “it’s the unions’ fault” nonsense to be perpetrated nationwide when there ARE NO UNIONS in Georgia.

But check the comments on any blog about the APS cheating scandal and see how often John and Jane Q. Public blame “teacher unions”

Dr. John Trotter

March 24th, 2012
2:10 pm

I am all for the abolition of the U. S. Department of Education. As a leader of a teachers’ union, I probably stand alone in this regard. But, the U. S. Department of Education does more harm than good. The Carter Administration pushed for its creation…to fulfill a pledge to the National Education Association (NEA). How out of touch is NEA with the real concerns and issues of teachers every day? Ha! When has NEA addressed the abject lack of student motivation and classroom discipline? Without addressing this two-headed monster, NO PRORESS WILL TAKE PLACE. I KNOW THAT I AM SHOUTING, AND I AM ENJOYING IT. OK, I am more placid now.

Ed Johnson

March 24th, 2012
2:12 pm

Nice going, AJC!

Now to @teacher&mon speaking of Chip Rogers and Jan Jones – and let’s not forget to include Alisha Thomas Morgan, Ed Lindsay, Ralph Long, and some others – when might the AJC do an exposé of these Georgia lawmakers’ involvement with ALEC?

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
2:15 pm

Ralph Long? The ONE guy in the General Assembly with the INTEGRITY to call for Beverly Hall’s resignation while metro power players were still trying to “finesse it past the governor” and keep her in power?

Not THAT Ralph Long.

Mary Elizabeth

March 24th, 2012
2:16 pm

Part of the problem in education today is the persistent belief that a business model is more effective, than an education model, in effecting change in schools across the nation. Advocates for this business model believe that, if only business strategies are utilized in the education of the young, that that will insure success. They do not realize that they are trying to use gasoline to make the sailboat advance. The gasoline was meant to be used for the motorboat, not the sailboat. Educating each student, well, is a process that unfolds over time.There are no “quick fix” answers to building literacy.

When slavery was part of American society, Caucasians who taught African-Americans to read were often risking their own lives because they were breaking societal norms to do so. Illiteracy among slaves was perpetuated to keep the slaves docile. And one hundred years later, in my youth, during the Jim Crow era, I remember segregated schools in which black schools were lacking in resources and textbooks, and they were housed in substandard buildings. Black students could not go on field trips to learn concepts through direct experiences in the towns because they were not welcomed in most places – the society, itself, was segregated. Illiteracy, like slavery, had been built into American society.

And, now, we expect “quick fix” answers to generational illiteracy. If someone demanded of me that I become fluent in French within the year, I probably could rise to the occasion, but if that person demanded that I become fluent in French within a week, I would not be able to master that. Literacy is created over generations. What you discuss at home and read at home influences not only your children but your grandchildren – and their children. Literacy is generational. If your family is interested in discussing other people at home, you, too, will probably be interested in discussing the affairs of other people. If your family discusses events of the day at home, you probably will, also. And if your family is more interested in discussing ideas with you at home, you will probably want to discuss ideas with them. You may even want read more about events and ideas, on your own, because ideas will have become as real to you as the car in your driveway. Literacy is effected by historical forces, psychological forces, and family dynamics over generations. Seeing education only through the lens of a present day business model limits the depth of the educational process and using a business model, exclusively, for the education of our young will not foster the authentic long-ranged growth needed to build a truly literate nation.

Poverty is directly related to literacy and educational results. To eliminate, or even to curtail poverty, attention must, once again, be placed on improving the socio-economic conditions of the underclasses in our nation. When addressing poverty becomes a priority in America, as it was in my youth, not only will educational results be more substantial and long-lasting, but we will, also be creating kinder and wiser citizens. All citizens are inextricably interwoven and interconnected with one another. The hierarchial business model is not a good fit for the in-depth education of our young.

Dr. John Trotter

March 24th, 2012
2:16 pm

@ Beverly: There are unions; there is no collective bargaining. There is a difference. Because there is no collective bargaining, guerilla warfare tactics are sometimes the best way to fight City Hall. All legal and all effective. GAE and PAGE remind me of the British wearing red coats out in the open fields. I presume that some administrators say that MACE reminds them of Indians…after they [the administrators] have been metaphorically scalped.

Ed Johnson

March 24th, 2012
2:22 pm

@Beverly,

Yup. That Ralph Long. Ralph Long and Alisha Thomas Morgan, a tag team… kind of like good cop (Long) and bad cop (Morgan). That’s how the two play it to push charters and vouchers. So don’t let Long having gone after Beverly Hall fool you.

midtownguy

March 24th, 2012
2:23 pm

I am still trying to get past how many students eat taxpayer-funded meals (there is no such thing as a “free” meal). That high a percentage of kids in public schools are poor?

A Teacher, 2

March 24th, 2012
2:25 pm

“Improbable scores were twice as likely to appear in charter schools as regular schools. ”

I dare everyone to do as I just did and sent this quote to their state legislators. I wonder how much crying is being done behind the scenes as we speak. Do we dare hope that information like this will begin to unravel the system??

A Teacher, 2

March 24th, 2012
2:27 pm

@midtownguy. Yes, my county (about an hour from Atlanta) is 50% affluent and 50% poor to very poor. It is an interesting mix to work with!!

Mary Elizabeth

March 24th, 2012
2:30 pm

@Ed Johnson, 2:12

“. . .when might the AJC do an exposé of these Georgia lawmakers’ involvement with ALEC?”

===============================================

I am still hoping that the AJC will investigate and publish the influence of ALEC on Georgia’s legislators relative to public education. One of ALEC’s goals has been to undercut traditional public schools by creating more charter schools, vouchers for private schools, homeschooling, and online learning, as well as fostering the business model approach to educating, which I discussed in my 2:16 pm post. Public education should be improved, but not dismantled, for it serves the common good.

http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/78448237?access_key=key-a6hdjq8v38luteku97w

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

@midtownguy, it’s not just the “free” lunch, it’s that students on taxpayer supported lunch (right of you to point that out) will bring junk food that EXCEEDS THE COST of the “free” lunch the parents supposedly can’t afford.

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
2:42 pm

@Ed Johnson: Correct you are….let’s not forget Alisha Morgan!

http://empoweredga.org/Articles/make-grade-morgan.html

Follow the money :)

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
2:43 pm

@Mary Elizabeth: We need you to come out of retirement and offer your services as the next Secretary of Education.

Jeff

March 24th, 2012
2:54 pm

Another headline is the lottery @$350 million. What has all this lottery windfall been spent on? Where is the original education budget? Lets have a full audit of these 2 budgets since the lottery was initiated, and put people’s jobs on the line. You know, like we do with businesses that don’t provide the results that we paid for.

Mortimer Snerd

March 24th, 2012
2:56 pm

This is what the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ political correctness has given us. It seems that since the Department of Education was formed in the late 70’s, we’ve gone nowhere but down, down, down….

Ed Johnson

March 24th, 2012
2:58 pm

@Mary Elizabeth,

This from the link you posted at 2:30 pm:

“ALEC exists specifically so that lobbyists and corporations can influence state legislative policies away from public view. At its meetings, held in some of the most exclusive resorts and hotels to ensure secrecy, corporate lobbyists share their wish lists of legislative proposals to be introduced at state capitols around the country. Legislators take this cookie-cutter legislation, make some changes to it, then introduce it in their own states, often without understanding the full impact of what they are proposing.”

Here’s an example:

“ALEC, the NRA, and the Killing of Travon Martin”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-berkowitz/alec-the-nra-and-the-murd_b_1375836.html

Dunwoody Mom

March 24th, 2012
3:07 pm

There is virtually no evidence that charter schools outperform traditional public schools, but yet our legislature has spent SO much time trying to push these schools – more time than they spend on actually dealing with public school issues. You have to ask why and I think the reason may lie with these lobbyists and their money.

Beverly Fraud

March 24th, 2012
3:17 pm

“There is virtually no evidence that charter schools outperform traditional public schools”

Yet they do offer the HOPE for choice (and that if they aren’t working, it MIGHT be easier to dismantle some of the particular schools dysfunctional elements)

, but yet our legislature has spent SO much time trying to push these schools

On the other hand, if the legislature spent even a TENTH of the time they spend on charter schools promoting policy to EMPOWER teachers to hold students ACCOUNTABLE for academics and behavior…

Yet on the other hand

Mary Elizabeth

March 24th, 2012
3:30 pm

@teacher&mom, 2:43 pm

Thank you for your gracious words. With teachers such as yourself leading the way into the future, I feel confident that education will not only survive, but thrive. :-)

Mary Elizabeth

March 24th, 2012
3:39 pm

@Ed Johnson, 2:58 pm

Thank you for posting an excerpt from the ALEC link that I provided at 2:30 pm. I wish to do the same for the link you provided regarding Florida’s gun laws, ALEC’s influence, and the killing of Travon Martin. Here is an excerpt from your link:
———————————————————

“Less known is the relationship between the Florida ’stand your ground’ law, which may allow the killer of Trayvon Martin to walk free, and a powerful but private, behind-the-scenes organization that has channeled such bills into the legislatures of Florida and other states.

The Florida law that is drawing such sudden attention due to the death of a teenager in Sanford ‘is the template for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ‘model bill’ that has been pushed in other states,’ PR Watch’s Brendan Fischer recently reported.”

==================================

Again, I urge the AJC to investigate and report upon ALEC’s influence within Georgia’s Legislature.

gateacher

March 24th, 2012
4:07 pm

Would an editor from the AJC please inform your writers of the difference between a ‘regimen’ and a ‘regime’?

Ole Guy

March 24th, 2012
4:10 pm

While we like to cast light of optimism upon the troubles du jour, it often serves next-to-no meaningful purpose to hide from the stark, cruel realities which lurk around the corners of pending reality. Many countries; indeed, many civilizations have “had their day in the sun”, if you will…measured in years, even centuries…only to self-destruct from within; to implode. Our biggest advantage is/could be/should be the advantage of foresight.

Many of you have read my comments; many have issued comments of one ilk or another. Those comments remain intact: WE…teachers, INTERESTED parents, etc, better start thinking of assuming a more-active role in the direction of education…I believe my diction has included the term “TAKING COMMAND OF THE PROFESSION”. It has become all-too-apparent; painfully so, that government is entirely incapable of educating kids; that government, indeed, is the “wrench in the spokes” of education…ala NCLB, and the broad lists of “can’t dos and must dos” under which the education community must labor.

The two options remain, folks: keep the faith that the education ship…foundering as you read…will somehow/miracleously right itself, OR reacquire the educational values which seem to have worked quite well…THE OLE WAYS. You’ve read it before; I won’t belabor the painfully obvious.

teacher&mom

March 24th, 2012
4:17 pm

I appreciate the AJC also included “gaming” the system to improve test results. NCLB created a tangled mess. The schools most vulnerable to being closed are Title I schools. Title I schools desperately need the additional funds to offer additional supports for students. However, Title I funds must be spent on “research-based” improvements.

Guess who is the biggest provider of “research-based” materials?

The testing publishers.

The following excerpts are from an article in the Texas Observer:

“Pearson, one of the giants of the for-profit industry that looms over public education, produces just about every product a student, teacher or school administrator in Texas might need. From textbooks to data management, professional development programs to testing systems, Pearson has it all—and all of it has a price. For statewide testing in Texas alone, the company holds a five-year contract worth nearly $500 million to create and administer exams. If students should fail those tests, Pearson offers a series of remedial-learning products to help them pass. Meanwhile, kids are likely to use textbooks from Pearson-owned publishing houses like Prentice Hall and Pearson Longman. Students who want to take virtual classes may well find themselves in a course subcontracted to Pearson. And if the student drops out, Pearson partners with the American Council on Education to offer the GED exam for a profit.”

“The mingling of business and education blurs the line between learning and profit-making. Some education reformers advocating for increased reliance on testing also lobby for the large testing companies. It’s often difficult to tell if lawmakers stick with education policies because they’re effective, or because they’re attached to high-dollar contracts.”

In light of the AJC article and articles like the one below, can we honestly say NCLB has improved education? Does anyone believe standardized testing has accomplished more good than harm?

http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/the-pearson-graduate

Private School for my kids

March 24th, 2012
4:29 pm

Imagine that government schools and the largest useless union in the nation being called to the carpet for what they are: FRAUDS!!! It goes to show that the purpose of government schools is to produce someone just smart enough to do government jobs and be good employees. What is the one thing you hear from the teachers: the same comments you get from the Obama Administration, “It was someone elses fault.” All these teachers who committed these acts are all screaming “I was forced to do it.” I haven’t heard any reports of anyone putting a gun to their heads at all these Test Changing Parties.

Face it, the Government School Teaching “Profession” is nothing more than a professional baby sitter service. If you really care for your child’s eductation, there are many private schools and state funded scholarships to help you cover tuition of the schools.

Private School for my kids

March 24th, 2012
4:33 pm

BTW, let’s not forget where all this got started. GW signing the god for saken No Child Left Behind Act.