Atlanta Public Schools is still in the process of trying to fire teachers implicated in the test-cheating investigation, a task that becomes more difficult as the cases and circumstances become murkier.
APS went after the most egregious offenders first, those who confessed to copying test booklets and erasing student answers. Now, it is pursuing those educators who made admissions to the GBI of far less overt actions, such as strongly suggesting students recheck answers.
In these less blatant cases, the question becomes what defines cheating? The AJC obtained the tapes of the GBI’s interviews with some teachers through the Georgia Open Records Act. After you read them, you decide. Cheating or not?
The first case involves Dobbs Elementary teacher Derrick Broadwater’s practice of telling students to “check your answers” and helping them with words they didn’t know.
GBI: At the time you were doing this, did you think by doing the kind of prompting you were doing with students you were increasing chances they would get the right answer?
Derrick Broadwater: I didn’t give it that much thought.
GBI: But isn’t that the point? To improve their scores?
Broadwater’s lawyer: Or were you hoping they would get the right answer?
Broadwater: I’m always hoping they would get the right answer.
GBI: When you saw your students’ test scores, you were aware of particular students and how they did? How they scored?
Broadwater: Yes. They were always put in our face.
GBI: Some of these students, the poorer students, some you might have said you need to look over your test, did they do better than expected?
Broadwater: Some did, yes.
GBI: So you may have helped them improve their test scores?
A tribunal voted April 30 to fire Sabrina Luckie, 28, for admitting to giving her students a look that expressed disappointment when they blackened the wrong ovals on a statewide test. She maintained she wasn’t trying to get her first-graders at Fain Elementary School in Atlanta to change their answers. Here’s an excerpt from her interview with GBI agents last year.
GBI: When we were talking, you said when you see a student has the wrong answer, you give them that look to say, ‘That’s not right, you need to look at that one again.’ Is that something y’all did every year? Was that the culture?
Luckie: I’ve heard people say that they have given the child the look, like, ‘Why did you put that down.’ But without saying it.
GBI: And you did that as well?
GBI: Did you feel the principal would be upset with you?
GBI: Did he suggest y’all do that?
Luckie: No. I never heard him verbally say that. With him to say use voice inflection, I would assume that would be fine.
GBI: It’s like it’s understood?
Luckie: Right. It wasn’t a choice. [It was implied that] you better do something like that.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog