Miss our chat on school test scores? Replay is now available here

Let’s continue the conversation. Regular blog commenting, below, is turned back on, so comment away!

Here is the 70-minute live video chat from Tuesday morning featuring the reporters who worked on “Cheating Our Children,” the exclusive AJC investigation on school test disparities across the nation. The reporters are Alan Judd and Heather Vogell.

– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

33 comments Add your comment

A Live Chat

March 26th, 2012
2:26 pm

Is this a live chat where we write questions and they respond in real time?
Thx,
GM

Mary Elizabeth

March 26th, 2012
3:14 pm

I have entreated the AJC, also, to conduct an investigative report on ALEC and how that conservative organization is influencing educational legislation (among other legislation) in Georgia’s General Assembly. I have been pleased with the AJC’s investigative reporting regarding cheating in public schools in Georgia as well as across the nation.

However, I ask, again, that the AJC do an investigative report on ALEC’s influence on Georgia’s legislation (and legislation in other states across our nation). This is very important for the public to be aware. How about it AJC?

Interested in knowing more about ALEC? Read Paul Krugman’s editorial in today’s New York Times. Here is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/opinion/krugman-lobbyists-guns-and-money.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Ernest

March 26th, 2012
3:35 pm

Thanks for sharing the interesting link, Mary Elizabeth……

Brandy

March 26th, 2012
4:01 pm

Will a transcript of the chat be available for those of us who are teachers and unable to participate at 11am?

Blog Administrator

March 26th, 2012
5:35 pm

@Brandy: That hasn’t been determined, but a replay of the video chat will be available as soon as possible after its conclusion.
Sorry you won’t be able to join us, but feel free to post a question in this comment section and we’ll try to use it in the chat.

Brandy

March 26th, 2012
5:48 pm

@Blog Administrator-I have one question:

Many of the districts that have responded to allegations of possible cheating have claimed that their schools were flagged due to decreases in scores due to more rigorous testing measures being put into place. Can you all please explain whether this is a valid criticism/explanation or if this thinking is flawed–and why?

Mary Elizabeth

March 26th, 2012
6:34 pm

You are very welcome, Ernest.

Angela

March 26th, 2012
9:44 pm

After a while no one will have to worry about teachers cheating. If we don’t get our money back and raises we all will stop being dedicated. Most of us are suffering with creditors in many many ways. When all of that starts to affect our lives many other things go to the waist side. We as educators (most) love what we do but believe me we are hurman.

Many will say we should just do our jobs and not worry about the money. H— we have bills and families just like the rest of you. We made a career choice to be paid for the work that we do not a free livelyhood to all. Neither did you. When you have dealt with what we deal with from day to day with your rude children, disrespectful and rude parents, bullying administrators, and professionally disrespected by the government, stake holders, etc. then you can speak. Outside of that close you non-associated mouths.

Tony

March 26th, 2012
10:19 pm

While cheating on tests certainly creates a sensation, I’m afraid the folks of ALEC simply would not stand for any kind of serious investigative reporting. A bunch or filthy stinking rich folks who work together to write laws that will make them even richer? Who cares about that kind of stuff? Teachers, principals, and schools are much more deserving of such scrutiny.

[...] those of you with a little more time, here is the entire piece: (And if you have even more time today, come back at 11 a.m. for my live video chat with the AJC repor….) By Jim [...]

Larry C

March 27th, 2012
9:24 am

Three questions:
1. When will full details of the statistical methodology be released. Currently there is only a vague description of using regression models – 2400 of them, but no details on the actual models used and how they were selected.
2. When will details on how the 169 “problem districts” were identified. The current description is very vague other than that they had usual attributes.
3. In view of item (2) when will the full data set be released. You have done a good job with the mapping application on line, but for example in the list of problem cities you cite Baltimore using data from 2006 to 2009 yet the database shows data for 2008-2011. Other cities in the list show similar patterns of missed and skipped years in your analysis. Please explain these, what appear to be selective use of certain years of data for several of the cities in your response to item 2.

Thank you

JunkMonkey

March 27th, 2012
9:52 am

I am so glad the AJC has investigated test scores in Georgia and now the Nation. I have a real gut feeling that cheating did occur in certain schools in Georgia. In fact I would like to name them in the blog but can not. To all the superintendents and principals who are behind cheating—Please remember. “OH WHAT A WEB YOU WEAVE WHEN YOU FIRST START TO DECEIVE” I have some infomation which might blow your mind….talk about deception. These superintendents and principals need to know YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN NOT HIDE. That is right you can move from district, or county or school to school; but you are still held accountable to the students and parents and taxpayers you have done wrong. That’s right, no statute of limitations on this type of activity.
Now, for one other detail. how many superintendents have taken a cut in salary and furlough days since teachers are being furlough or let go. I bet the number is very slim and inbetween. This is something that taspayers should demand from the local BOE— or a good local BOE would have already step up to the plate and treated the Superintendent the way teachers and other emploiyees are being treated. Where is the real justice in education. I do not believe there is any for teachers. We need to clean house…..all over this Great State of Georgia.

[...] Watch the chat now at this post. [...]

FYI

March 27th, 2012
12:12 pm

The forced advertising that one must listen to before being able to view this video is truly annoying!!

Jayne

March 27th, 2012
12:12 pm

Angela, I shudder to think that you are a teacher of actual children.

Tom S.

March 27th, 2012
12:21 pm

Good work AJC. I live in Los Angeles……and obviously our district has some work to do. Will the AJC data be released to indicate which individual schools have been flagged in our district?

Bob Fitzgerald

March 27th, 2012
12:23 pm

Let me add my support for the request made by Larry C. regarding a more detailed methodology report. I have read the methodology article on the website. It does not provide sufficient information for a professional evaluation of the appropriateness of the statistical methods employed, the validity of the score change regressions, and the possible biases associated with decisions about which schools and districts to include or exclude. Given the importance of the story and the possible consequences, it is important that researchers be able to examine the technical foundations upon which you have built your conclusions.

The reporting and investment of the paper’s resources in this story are noteworthy. It would be a shame if its underpinnings could not be verified.

Thanks.

Bob

cat

March 27th, 2012
12:36 pm

Why wasn’t Louisiana part of the investigation?

Maureen Downey

March 27th, 2012
1:25 pm

@Bob, Send a note to john.perry@ajc.com. He is the database expert. He apparently is swamped this week but I think you will find him very accessible and helpful — when his schedule clears. He came to the AJC from private industry and is sharp as they come.
I just talked to our editor Kevin Riley and he recommends sending requests for deep data stuff to Drue Miller. Drue is putting together a granular data explainer for the folks who want to see even more about methodology.
Drue.Miller@ajc.com

Maureen

Derwood

March 27th, 2012
1:49 pm

AS LONG AS WE COINTINUE TO HAVE THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVENEMTN MEDDLING IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEN, IT WILL CONTINUE TO DECLINE. HOWE CAN WE EXPECT TEH STATE AND FEDERAL LEGISLATORS TO BE ABLE TO GUIDE THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM WHEN THEY CAN’T EVEN AGREE ON BILLS? GO BACK TO THE 60′S LET LOCAL SYSTEMS HAVE CONTROL. I BET 90% OF THE GRADUATES IN SCHOOLS IN AMERICA THIS YEAR CAN’T EVEN BALANCE A CHECK BOOK AND THAT IS IMPORTANT, MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT COUNTY DID DANIEL BOONE KILL HIS BEAR.

bu2

March 27th, 2012
2:15 pm

@Maureen
I posted this question on your 1st thread on the report.

The Houston ISD is listed as one of the outliers with a 1 in a trillion chance of the changes being due to chance. But when I look at the AJC data, they have a lower % of questionable scores than several surrounding Houston area districts including North Forest and Aldine and a similar % to Cypress Fairbanks. So why are they listed as being significantly more questionable? The reason is not clear from the AJC data.

Maureen Downey

March 27th, 2012
2:16 pm

@bu2, Let me send your question to the data folks.
Is that your correct e-mail as Drue wants to e-mail response to you?
Maureen

CHC

March 27th, 2012
2:53 pm

Good Afternoon-
When will the AJC report on the unethical leadership in higher school government which leads to cheating? What about economic ties to testing? Who is making money? Right now, the low man is being persecuted, the teacher mostly and a few administrators. This is wrong and more cheating will continue.
This is similar to arresting the low end drug dealer standing on the corner. When are we going to view the troubling issue of over testing and the problematic low morale environments along with low pay that many teachers face (making money tied to testing attractive)? Public education is a joke in this country and very stressful for the teachers and administrators doing their jobs.

On another note… Over emphasis on the test is the problem. Schools are told for political reasons to honestly teach the child and not focus on the test but if the students fail the test, the many factors contributing to failure are not viewed, only the teachers and school are termed as ‘bad’. This is oversimplifying the issue. There is money tied to testing and this is unethical at the start… When are we going to look at the meat of the problem?
Go deeper…by investigating policies; speaking with educators along with administrators. Let’s be honest because right now we have a group think mentality. These types of reporting and discussions are shallow… Talk to the politicians controlling the money. Who is connected to who because testing is a big business and apparently some groups are making a killing off of this. Go deeper AJC… Stop patting yourself on the back for persecuting lowly teachers. Go after the big guy

Derwood

March 27th, 2012
2:56 pm

Angelia hit it on the heads folks. People are telling teachers how they should teach and they have never sat in a class room with todays spoiled, unresponsible kids. Ask your kids teacher can you sit in and watch her class via video camera with out your child knowing this and you will be amazed as to how your precious child acts. My spouse is a teacher of some 31 years. I have begun to show parents, administrators and my elected officials the same respect they show her and that is NONE. If I meet the governor or Senator or representaticve I call him by his last name or his first name. Deal couldn’t last 24 minutes in a class room today.

Paulo977

March 27th, 2012
3:59 pm

Mary Elizabeth

March 26th, 2012
3:14 pm
______________________________________________

GREAT GREAT QUESTION ABOUT ALEC …..support you!!!!

bu2

March 27th, 2012
4:26 pm

@Maureen
Yes the listed e-mail is correct.

Maureen Downey

March 27th, 2012
4:31 pm

@Bu2. Expect to hear from Drue Miller.
Maureen

Tammy

March 27th, 2012
4:47 pm

Angela sounds like one of the reasons that Dekalb county schools continually have poor test scores. If you cannot form complete, correct sentences when you post how on earth can one expect you to do that in the classroom? I’m sorry the job didn’t work out to be the cakewalk your friends told you it would be. Perhaps you can slither over to another county and try to hoodwink them. Excellence for dey chirrens.

Mary Elizabeth

March 27th, 2012
7:40 pm

@Paulo977, 3:59 pm
=================================================
“Mary Elizabeth, March 26, 2012, 3:14 pm

GREAT GREAT QUESTION ABOUT ALEC …..support you!!!!”
=================================================

Thank you so much for your words of support, Paulo. Perhaps if enough people continue to urge the AJC to investigate the influence of ALEC on Georgia’s legislators and legislation, the AJC will do so.

I believe in Jefferson’s vision for America, and it was not a vision in which the wealthy and powerful would rule this nation through stealthy and muscular means. This nation was built on the principle of self-government by and for the people. The press has had a history of keeping that vision of our democracy alive. I know that they will not fail, now, to be the watchdog of our freedom.

Dekalbite

March 27th, 2012
9:56 pm

School systems used to be light in the administrative end, and most professional personnel were teachers who worked in the classroom directly instructing students. Over the past 30 to 40 years, education has changed dramatically, particularly in the urban areas. Education became about promotions and “career paths” for professional personnel. Many more jobs with good benefits were created for admin and support personnel. NCLB exacerbated this.

Advancement came to those who could point to good test scores in the classrooms of teachers under them. Boards of Education, especially in low income urban areas began to hire superintendents and their “upper level” managers based on their perceived ability to raise test scores.

The motivation to cheat or pressure teachers to cheat or se the stage for cheating and then turn a blind eye to is really about advancement. I once heard a principal say that her teachers were not very motivated. I asked her why she would say that since they were very good teachers. She said if they had any ambition they would have gotten out of the classroom and been promoted like us. That’s actually not an odd feeling for many administrators to have in education. Too many administrators really feel that teachers who are still in the classroom after 10 or 15 years must not have much ambition. These are ambitious individuals. Who has the power and highest salary is what drives them.

AJC is NOT Credible

March 28th, 2012
9:04 am

Gwinnett County had pretty severe swings…what’s their excuse Maureen?

[...] for the results of their analysis. To get a feel for this tension it is well worth listening to the webinar they did on Tuesday, March [...]

G D Stanford, CCIM

April 4th, 2012
8:02 am

Great work, Guys(Gals)! I could not be more proud of your work as Journalists….Your work is in the league with Woodward and Bernstein and the Watergate Scandal, in my humble opinion. This cheating scandal, in Atlanta, and most likely much of the Nation speaks to so many issues that plague education. I think the policies are a direct cause of this, but it also speaks to the failures and lack of integrity of far too many staffers and educators!