Archive for the ‘CRCT investigation’ Category

Schoolhouse to courthouse: Three DeKalb officials indicted

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports today that three former school administrators were indicted by a DeKalb County grand jury on charges they manipulated tests or attendance records to improve measures of school performance.

According to Tagami:

Just two weeks after a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators in an alleged cheating conspiracy, the DeKalb grand jury accused former DeKalb County School District employees Angela Jennings, Agnes Flanagan and Derrick Wooten of manipulating records.

Flanagan, who was principal of Cedar Grove Middle School, allegedly directed teachers to change students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. Jennings, who was principal at Rock Chapel Elementary, allegedly ordered the temporary removal of students from enrollment records, so their 2010 test results wouldn’t count against school averages. Wooten, who was an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary, is accused of ordering …

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New calls to probe cheating allegations in Washington under Rhee

PBS’s John Merrow recently revealed a 2009 confidential memo pointing out troubling test answer erasures in Washington, D.C., schools, which were led at the time by Michelle Rhee, now the head of  the national advocacy group StudentsFirst.

Merrow reported that the erasure concerns raised in the memo by an outside data consultant failed to prompt any investigation by top officials in the district.

The Washington Post is reporting that a probe is unlikely at this point, either. (A 2007 law placed Washington’s public schools under mayoral control. Under the D.C. model, the city council appoints some of the school board members.)

The Post reports:

The chairman of the D.C. Council’s education committee said Sunday that he has no plans to launch a full-scale investigation into allegations of widespread cheating on standardized tests in 2008, during the tenure of former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Council member David Catania (I-At Large) said that he intends to find out why the …

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Atlanta’s grades on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ at odds with CRCT cheating scandal

Marshall S. Smith is a former under-secretary in the U. S. Department of Education. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, he served from 1993 to 2000.

Prior to his appointment as Under Secretary, Smith was a professor of education and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he also served as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Smith earned both a master’s (1963) and a doctoral (1970) degree in measurement and statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

In this guest column, he discusses an oddity of the APS cheating scandal: The system was showing notable progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is known as the Nation’s Report Card. It wasn’t that Atlanta was leading the nation, but its progress was significant.

When we have discussed this in the …

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Mark Elgart: Accreditation means a quality, standardized education

Dr. Mark Elgart is the founding president and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement  as well as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Northwest Accreditation Commission, headquartered in Alpharetta.

By Mark Elgart

School accreditation is an honor, a mark of distinction as well as an acknowledgement that the education offerings of a school, school system, college or university meet standards, benchmarks and performance criteria in the advancement of student achievement. In the United States, for K-12 schools, accreditation is also completely voluntary, and all accrediting agencies are selected and invited to review and accredit by the school or school system seeking or maintaining that accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was founded in 1895 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. SACS …

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Did Michelle Rhee ignore her own cheating scandal? A new memo suggests clear evidence was discounted.

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

PBS education reporter John Merrow writes about the erasure analyses, clear evidence of cheating and concealment of that evidence.

No, he is not writing about Atlanta Public Schools and former Superintendent Beverly Hall. He is writing about Washington, D.C., and former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Merrow questions why the strong evidence of cheating in the District of Columbia Public Schools — revealed now in a confidential memo — was not followed up as it was in Atlanta, and puts the blame on Rhee.

He says an inexperienced and ambitious Rhee arrived in Washington and imposed a  “Produce or Else” reform model. He notes that Rhee met one-on-one with each principal and demanded a signed guarantee of exactly how many points their test scores would increase.

Rhee has become a national leader in education and holds great sway with state Legislatures, including here in Georgia. She is winning converts to the …

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Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’

testing (Medium)I interviewed education advocate and writer Alfie Kohn a while back. You can read the 2011 interview here.

The APS cheating scandal was in the news at the time, and Kohn told me:

The real cheating scandal that has been going on for years is that kids are being cheated out of meaningful learning by focusing on test scores. Standardized tests like the CRCT measure what matters least. The more you know about education, the less likely you would ever be to measure teachers, schools or kids based on test scores.

I wondered what Kohn, author of “The Case Against Standardized Testing” and other books, thought about the indictments Friday of former APS school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others.

I asked him a few questions for an editorial I am writing for the print AJC.

Here are his answers in full:

Standardized tests are lousy measures of thinking. They assess some combination of (a) family wealth and (b) how much time has been diverted from real learning in order to make kids better …

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Criminal indictment of Beverly Hall: Is it illegal to be an overly demanding boss?

Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall doesn’t dodge the hard stuff. Proving it again today, he dons his legal robes  — he is an attorney –  and discusses the nature of the charges against former APS school chief Beverly Hall.

He is not the only one questioning the breadth of the criminal charges facing Hall and other educators as a result of a cheating scandal first exposed by an AJC investigation of test score disparities.

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was among 35 people indicted today in APS cheating scandal.  (AJC photo)

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall is among the 35 people indicted in APS cheating scandal who must surrender at the Fulton County Jail today. (AJC photo)

The Concerned Black Clergy is holding a 10 a.m. press conference today where local attorneys are scheduled to speak about the overreach of the charges.

The press conference is being held at the Fulton County Jail where the 35 accused APS administrators, educators and others indicted Friday are due to surrender.

A 65-count indictment accuses former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall …

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Beverly Hall worried about asking too little of inner city students. But is there also a danger of asking too much?

downeyart (Medium)Despite all the cheering on the blog that APS administrators are now facing justice for their roles in the CRCT cheating scandal, an unresolved issue remains: Why was there so much cheating in APS?  (And elsewhere in the country, as uncovered by a later AJC investigation?)

The Georgia CRCTs are not difficult tests. Why was it so difficult to get APS students to score in acceptable ranges?

The indictments in the APS cheating scandal bring us back to the national quandary of how to raise the achievement level of students who historically were never expected to do well, were accorded fewer resources with which to do well, had the most inexperienced teachers and came from homes that lacked the social capital to assist them in school.

The cheating at APS occurred in the schools with the least advantaged populations.

When she came to Atlanta, Beverly Hall said she wanted teachers who believed poor children could do well. (Interesting side point here is that Hall wanted to fire many …

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Poison seeds: The bitter harvest of the APS cheating scandal

downeyart0401In 2009, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education featured Atlanta’s Parks Middle School on its annual bus tour of high-achieving schools, and I joined the visit. I arrived early in my own car, beating the bus and getting a chance to chat with students for an hour.

The enthusiastic students expressed pride in their school, which was decorated with banners announcing its awards and distinctions. And there were many.

In 2006, Parks Middle made adequate yearly progress and surpassed Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall’s even more ambitious targets. That same year, the percentage of eighth-graders who passed the math section of the CRCT rose from 24 percent to 86 percent. In 2008, Parks earned national accolades after becoming Atlanta’s only middle school to meet all its academic targets.

Over the weekend, I dug into my old files — a box in my closet — for my notebook from Parks. Among the quick observations I had jotted down: “Kids proud of school.” “Telling me about …

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APS school chief Davis to employees: Remember 95 percent of APS employees were not implicated in cheating scandal

 Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Erroll B. Davis Jr.

In the wake of the indictments handed down today against former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others, APS school chief Erroll B. Davis sent this letter to APS employees:

Dear Employees:

Today, the Fulton County District Attorney’s (DA) Office announced indictments against 35 former employees of Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The former employees are accused of wrongdoing in connection with the administration of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in 2009 and, in some cases, previous years.

As an APS family, we are ready to put this troubling episode behind us. Our official role is to allow the legal process to run its course. We have an obligation to treat any indictment as a legal matter between the individuals implicated and the DA’s office.

At the same time, we will maintain the expectation that all employees conform to the highest ethical standards established in APS. Over the past two years, we have taken action to renew our …

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