Tracing the test-cheating scandal back to its roots

For weeks, teachers and administrators implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal have been appearing one by one in front of a tribunal, telling their stories in hopes that they will be allowed to retain their jobs and careers.

The process — guaranteed to them by law — is meant to ensure that if fired and stripped of the right to teach, they will be fired and decertified for good cause and after they have had the chance to defend themselves. Frustrating as it might be to some who want a quicker, cheaper resolution of the controversy, that’s important.

However, the public nature of the process and testimony has also produced an important side benefit: Taxpayers, parents and citizens in general are getting a more complete and in many ways more human picture of the internal culture of the Atlanta school system and how that culture contributed to the scandal. It is possible in at least some cases to sympathize with the individuals involved and the pressure they experienced, even if that sympathy does not mean excusing what they did.

In fact, while each educator implicated in the controversy has had a unique story to tell, in the end they leave me circling back to the same basic question:

Where was Beverly Hall?

Whatever mistakes were made by individual educators, the atmosphere of fear and casual corruption within the school system was Hall’s creation as longtime superintendent. The absence of safeguards and indeed the total lack of concern about potential cheating was Hall’s responsibility. The institution’s reluctance and even aggressive refusal to support district employees who knew something was wrong and who tried to protest is a direct consequence of her leadership style and priorities.

Hall has retired and left the district, and so far has played no role in the tribunal proceedings. And while investigations continue, there is no indication that she will be held officially accountable in any way.

In her rare public utterances, she has portrayed herself as a victim of employees who failed to do their duty, but in the end she failed them, not the other way around. In fact, Hall bears a significant degree of responsibility for every career that is being ended and every future that is being compromised.

However, it’s important not to leave the issue there, because in some ways Hall herself is as much a symptom as a cause. As AJC investigations have established, cheating on standardized tests has become a nationwide problem, with high-profile schools all over the country producing wildly implausible claims of improvement in student performance. Confronted with that evidence, public officials in too many cases have retreated into the same pattern of denial that has become familiar to Atlanta residents.

When the same problems occur on such a large scale, in so many different communities and school systems in more than 30 states, it is no longer possible to dismiss it as the actions of an unethical few, or of a corrupted bureaucracy here or there. Something deeper is driving the phenomenon.

There is no question that standardized tests are an essential diagnostic tool. They can tell us which students, teachers and schools are performing well and which require attention. But when we take it a step farther and use those same test results to dictate fates, we place a burden on testing that it is too fragile to bear. When that happens, the tests themselves become a form of cheating, a means of producing misleadingly easy answers to what are really hard questions.

It’s also deeply confusing. In recent years, education reform has been dominated by two themes that are directly contradictory yet are often espoused by the very same people. And that contradiction is almost never acknowledged.

Here in Georgia, for example, state leaders have insisted that standardized testing be used as the educational equivalent of an industrial quality-control system. They produce a standardized model, and the tests determine how closely students conform to that model as they come off the assembly line.

Yet at the same time, we are told, the one-size-fits-all public-school industrial model must be dynamited to make way for a more experimental, let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom approach to education via charter schools and even vouchers. There’s a fundamental incoherence between those two messages that leads me to suspect that we really don’t know what we’re doing, and in fact are using schools as a battlefield in a deeper social struggle that we do not wish to acknowledge.

– Jay Bookman

100 comments Add your comment

Recon 0311 2533

May 9th, 2012
10:29 am

Fire suppression and diversionary tactics.

Recon 0311 2533

May 9th, 2012
10:30 am

East Lake Ira

May 9th, 2012
10:30 am

You have to give Bev some real credit though. Or maybe it was her lawyers but her contract gave her gobs of cash and absolute immunity from any fall out or personal liability should this or something like it happen.

She may have been a soft-spoken tyranical huckster, but she covered her buttocks very well.

That being said, I hope someone Madoff’s her.

ty webb

May 9th, 2012
10:34 am

Education?…just throw more money at it…that should help.

Georgia on my mind..

May 9th, 2012
10:37 am

Jays says,
But when we take it a step farther and use those same test results to dictate fates, we place a burden on testing that it is too fragile to bear. When that happens, the tests themselves become a form of cheating, a means of producing misleadingly easy answers to what are really hard questions.

If the teachers are allowed to teach the subject matter (as well as critical thinking) the students will perform better. Anytime a TEST is more crucial than the subject at hand, it opens the doors for dishonesty.

Recon 0311 2533

May 9th, 2012
10:39 am

Joe Biden the gift that keeps on giving. Hope we see a lot of old Joe out on the campaign trail.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/08/biden-blames-bush-for-failures-with-iran/?test=latestnews

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

May 9th, 2012
10:41 am

Del,
I do believe you are going to see four more years of Old Joe, thank you very much.

Thomas Heyward Jr

May 9th, 2012
10:41 am

“There’s a fundamental incoherence between those two messages that leads me to suspect that we really don’t know what we’re doing, and in fact are using schools as a battlefield in a deeper social struggle that we do not wish to acknowledge.”
.
Sure we do.
Whether or not you wish to acknowledge it………. is your problem.
I just wish that the Washington centralized authoritarian progs would leave our children alone.
.
Haven’t you screwed your own lives up enough?
.

TBone

May 9th, 2012
10:42 am

Nice way to acknowledge teachers on this teacher appreciation week. Glad to know you cover the hard hitting “news”?

Recon 0311 2533

May 9th, 2012
10:45 am

Normal,

I know that hope springs eternal but if what you’re hoping for, changes into what you’re not hoping for, old Joe will have had something to do with it, I’m sure.

East Lake Ira

May 9th, 2012
10:49 am

Public education is always experimenting Jay. Remember “Pods” in the 70’s? I do. Remember the advent of the “Gifted” programs around the same time? I do.

Pods died out but the Gifted programs remain – and for good reason if utilized correctly.

Tests are important only insofar as how the results are used, IMHO. Control for variables and compare the results. Doing that shows the BS behind the Charter School movement and voucher programs. That’s the real issue here and it is not hidden.

Just as “white-flight academies” sprung up in the 60’s, Charter’s and vouchers have sprung up now. The reasons are the same, the difference now is that the hucksters and charlatans want everyone to pay – not just the parents of the fleeing students.

Don't Tread

May 9th, 2012
10:51 am

Test cheating: “Progressive education” at its finest. Especially when it’s the teachers cheating instead of the students.

Jefferson

May 9th, 2012
10:55 am

Pensions should be revoked for the head honchos.

skipper

May 9th, 2012
10:59 am

As always, too much “government”! Schools need to go back to the three r’s, not the political crud being pounded into them today. Schools need to be in charge of the discipline…..we (and probably you too, Jay,) used to get that tail popped for bad behaviour. All this testing, etc. needs to be a small part….let the teachers do their jobs without having to subscribe to the “feel-good remedy of the day”. And lastly, society must stop expecting the schools to raise their kids or provide a baby-sitting service. Bad parental behaviour and no home-training has caused the government to try to come up with every dumb trick they can conceive and look what it has led to………………………this scandal!

Oscar

May 9th, 2012
11:01 am

the ided that tying a teacher’s future to how the students do on standard tests is a bad one and leads nowhere good. Time to get rid of it. Sudents are not equal everywhere. It’s the principal’s job to evaluate teacher’s performance.

ragnar danneskjold

May 9th, 2012
11:01 am

Pretty neutral essay, broadly agree. As I always argue Federal government incentives are at the root of every problem, I would cite the moral risk that rose with the Kennedy Education Bill, aka Bush’s “No child left behind” act. Guess it is just a compulsion for me.

Doug Monroe

May 9th, 2012
11:03 am

Season Four of “The Wire” really showed how “test prep” has taken over inner-city schools at the expense of all other teaching. What is most infuriating is to see how the Obama Administration is continuing the Bush Administration emphasis on testing at all costs. The standardized tests are written by corporate idiots — they measure nothing.

mona Lawrence

May 9th, 2012
11:06 am

I love how conservatives use the term “one fits all” as a perjorative for heathcare,( not even true) and approve of it for education. They all speak with forked tongues!!!

skipper

May 9th, 2012
11:10 am

@Mona,
Please elaborate……….although I’m probably not up to snuff with you on an intelligence bar, I still am not sure what your comment means.

Peadawg

May 9th, 2012
11:11 am

Do away w/ standardized test. They don’t mean jack to begin with.

ByteMe - Political thug

May 9th, 2012
11:12 am

There’s a fundamental incoherence between those two messages that leads me to suspect that we really don’t know what we’re doing

As reported in DUH! Magazine.

ty webb

May 9th, 2012
11:14 am

yeah why bother with standardized test?…just measure them all by height.

Peadawg

May 9th, 2012
11:23 am

“yeah why bother with standardized test?…just measure them all by height.”

ty, all they prove is that you can or can’t take a test. They don’t prepare you for anything.

carlosgvv

May 9th, 2012
11:23 am

Educators in the 1960’s began doing social experiments in public schools as a way to raise minority test scores to the same level as white students. These experiments were continued into the next century since nothing seemed to work. Now it appears that today’s educators decided cheating was the only thing left to do as everything else had failed. Alas, they have been found out. So, it’s back to the drawing board and even more experimentation. You’re right, Jay. There certainly is a deeper social struggle here that no educators dare to publicly acknowledge.

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
11:25 am

This was a well thought through and in-depth column. I agree with the thoughts within, and I, especially, agree that standardized tests should be used for diagnostic purposes, but that they should not be used to “dictate fates.”

You write: “. . .we really don’t know what we’re doing, and in fact (we) are using schools as a battlefied in a deeper social struggle that we do not wish to acknowledge.”

Let me try to show how these two disparate elements (standardized educational expectations through test scores and creative educational approaches in charter and private schools), in fact, have a commonality of purpose. There is a “method to this madness,” in other words.

1. The attempt to dismantle public education is a goal of the far right because their agenda has included the dismantling of as many public, or “government,” programs as possible for a private enterprise, business model. That is one main reason for the impetus toward charter and private schools to supplant public education. This movement is strongly supported by ALEC, the far right lobbying group which combines corporate business interests with state legislators.

2. Public school teachers are viewed as incompetent by the same forces who desire dismantling public schools for business models. Therefore, public school teachers must be controlled through the use of a private sector business model means. And, that “means” is through a numbers analysis, used in business models, which translates to the use of standardized testing for assessing the competency of teachers. That business model declares that if a teacher does not produce, by that business model standard, he or she will be fired. Moreover, that business model leads to believing that ALL students standardized test scores must meet the same high standard, at the same point in time, which is an unrealistic educational goal, if one understands the full degree of human variation as well as childhood development, which educators do understand.

The deep social struggle, to which you allude, is a struggle to make the business domain dominant in every area of American life, whether it belongs there or not – as in education. I do not believe that the business model belongs in education. As an educator, I do believe in the use of standardized tests to diagnose students’ correct placement and instruction, but I also believe that education is as much an art as it is a science. I believe that when the masses of students are educated in this nation, that that process is better accomplished by educators than by businessmen and women. The goal should be to improve public education, not to obliviate it. However, the arrogance in vision of some of the far right – that insists that their business model approach is the only approach for every area of the public arena – will not see that as a possibility. And, those who think in such rigid ways, as they have demonstrated, are determined to transform America to their far right ideological vision.
——————————————————————————–

On Sunday, May 6, 2012, on C-Span2’s Booktv broadcast with Michael Sandel of Harvard University, Professor Sandel described how market interests are taking over almost every aspect of American life, even in places where they do not belong, such as in education. He described how this may be harmful to our nation in ways not considered. His is an in-depth analysis. He is a professor of philosophy at Harvard.

Some may be interested in viewing this hour long broadcast. To watch the program, hit the “Watch” icon on the right of the screen.

http://www.booktv.org/Program/13304/After+Words+Michael+Sandel+What+Money+Cant+Buy+The+Moral+Limits+of+Markets+hosted+by+Nicole+Gelinas+Manhattan+Institute.aspx

ragnar danneskjold

May 9th, 2012
11:25 am

Maybe the solution to inadequate soaps is a bill to ensure “no soap left behind,” with appropriate taxpayer subsidies to those who produce good soap.

Erwin's cat

May 9th, 2012
11:34 am

yet another shiny object of distraction….what aren’t we talking about?

CJ

May 9th, 2012
11:49 am

Here in Georgia, for example, state leaders have insisted that standardized testing be used as the educational equivalent of an industrial quality-control system…Yet at the same time, we are told, the one-size-fits-all public-school industrial model must be dynamited to make way for a more experimental, let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom approach to education via charter schools and even vouchers. There’s a fundamental incoherence between those two messages that leads me to suspect that we really don’t know what we’re doing, and in fact are using schools as a battlefield in a deeper social struggle that we do not wish to acknowledge.

Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but proposed and passed voucher legislation, including tax credits, don’t typically hold private schools accountable–including those benefiting from such legislation. I understand that these private schools aren’t required to perform standardized tests. As a result, most don’t do so or don’t make the results available when they do. Many are under the false impression that charters and private schools generally perform better than public schools, but the evidence, such as it is, seems to suggests otherwis.

It’s true that the right is using schools as a battlefield in a deeper social struggle, but I don’t think that applies to all sides of the education debate. In fact, we do know what to do to improve Georgia’s educational system: smaller classes, more hours of class time per day, more days of class time per year, and highly valued and well-compensated educators, all of which require–like it or not–throwing money at the problem. That’s not ideology. That’s fact.

Adam

May 9th, 2012
11:49 am

Slow time of day, must be…. LUNCH TIME

I have no comment on this particular local issue. I’ll be back when people start getting into bitter “wars” over who’s partisan and who isn’t and to what degree, again. You know, to “pretend” I’m not “far left.” Or something. :roll:

Mighty Righty

May 9th, 2012
11:49 am

So the conclusion is that we have incompetent teachers, in incompetent schools teaching students that can’t learn. The best way to deal with this is to give the teachers union what ever they want because they have proven they can teach our children so long as we don’t test the teachers and/or hold them accountable. The teachers will do very well if we just pay them more. Never ever allow people who are successful in other careers mess with our schools because educators know what is best.

JOE COOL~DoWnToWn THUG

May 9th, 2012
11:50 am

“yet another shiny object of distraction….what aren’t we talking about?”

blogspot.com is always waiting for you bub,…

skipper

May 9th, 2012
11:55 am

@ Mary Elizabeth,
Some conservative (NOT TEA PARTY, THOUGH) folks realize that what we are doing DOES NOT WORK! What started out as the right to a free public education has morphed into the biggest cluster imaginable. New “rules” everyday, a myriad of excuses (some possibly justifiable, some not) for poor behaviour that contributes to a permanent underclass and the election of incompetant board members (see APS) have taken the system down the tube. All you crusaders, rant and rave. However, mark my words…..the APS will be a BIGGER cluster ten years from now…period. Please do not take my word for it; just report back in ten years and see that this cluster known as APS AND the D.C.’rs who think they have the cure have regressed to a point that would make this system look good today!

Meliwa

May 9th, 2012
11:55 am

While standardized tests can indicate whether or not individual students are able to meet minimum standards, and a large number of students in one school failing to meet those minimum standards means the school isn’t doing its job, the main problem is that many schools are only TEACHING THE TEST to get high scores. They’re not attempting to teach any other subject or topic within a subject that is not covered on the test, and the teachers are hamstrung and not allowed to go ‘off topic’.

If the state really wants a way to measure whether or not children are learning and schools are doing their job, here’s a radical concept–do away with the written standardized test. Interview each student individually and tailor the test to them to measure their true knowledge of a subject. I had college professors do that with final exams, because they wanted to make sure that students couldn’t cheat and would demonstrate actual knowledge of the course over the entire period, not just memorized answers.

Jefferson

May 9th, 2012
11:55 am

School days and year are too short. 48 weeks, 8 hrs a day. Let the learning begin.

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

May 9th, 2012
11:56 am

Adam,
OK, I’ll start…ahem…”to the Republican Party, Anyone left of Joseph Stalin is a Liberal”

I say that because Joseph wanted a limited government too…just him.

Uh Oh

May 9th, 2012
11:59 am

“Guess it is just a compulsion for me.”

As in a “disorder”…….. could be

Grasshopper

May 9th, 2012
12:01 pm

“…she has portrayed herself as a victim of employees who failed to do their duty, but in the end she failed them, not the other way around. In fact, Hall bears a significant degree of responsibility for every career that is being ended and every future that is being compromised.”

Exactly the way I feel about Obama in regards to:
— Fast and Furious
— GSA scandal
— Holder and the Black Panthers
— Solyndra

I’m sure there are more.

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

May 9th, 2012
12:01 pm

Jefferson,
I’ll go you one better…schools should be set up as a business. Grades one through six, five days vacation and five sick days, grades seven through eight, ten days vacation and five days sick. Grades nine through twelve, fifteen days vacation and ten days sick. Weekends off, of course, but the rest….go to school.

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

May 9th, 2012
12:03 pm

You have much to learn, Grasshopper…

Joseph

May 9th, 2012
12:08 pm

But does Obama support homo marriage… Thats the issue at hand Bookman…

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest

May 9th, 2012
12:10 pm

Your post on test-cheating gets it exactly right from causes to consequences. The only real solution, as both you and I have written for the AJC, is to rachet down the focus on high-stakes tests.

Readers who agree with us should sign on to the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing at: http://timeoutfromtesting.org/nationalresolution/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
web- http://www.fairtest.org

Meliwa

May 9th, 2012
12:11 pm

Joseph–and why not? Gay people have just as much right to be miserable in marriage as straight couples. Let them find out what it means to hire a divorce lawyer and divide up assets and keep the couple arguing with each other so they can make more money.

Joe Hussein Mama

May 9th, 2012
12:15 pm

Joseph — “But does Obama support homo marriage… Thats the issue at hand Bookman…”

I support Joseph’s right to gay-marry anyone he wants, so long as it’s a guy and he’s at least 18 years old.

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
12:16 pm

“In fact, we do know what to do to improve Georgia’s educational system: smaller classes, more hours of class time per day, more days of class time per year, and highly valued and well-compensated educators. . .”
—————————————————————–

The above suggestions are all important to improve public education in Georgia (and elsewhere). Please, also, consider my remarks, below, which I believe are critical points in improving public education.

My remarks, below, were published in the AJC, under my blogging name, “Mary Elizabeth,” in the Atlanta Forward section, A12, on May 1, 2012. They were taken from my remarks posted on April 28, 2012, on the Atlanta Forward blog thread entitled, “Measuring Graduation Rates.”
——————————————————————————-

“A 67% graduation rate is more consistent with what I had observed during my 35 years of teaching and educational leadership than a 81% graduation rate, so I believe that the 67% rate will be a more valid baseline upon which to assess yearly improvement.

Until teachers and educational leaders recognize that students in every grade level will have differing instructional level needs and address these variances, students will continue to drop out of school.

Common core standards are well to pursue ideally, but if they lead to mandating that all students in a given grade level achieve the same standards within the same time period, then they are unrealistic standards and they will actually create student failures, and even create high school drop-outs.”
=============================================

The following educational example of which I wrote, on that same blog thread, was not included in the AJC’s paper edition on May 1 – probably because of space limitations – but I think that it is important to restate that example, here. See below.
———————————————————————

“As a Reading Department Chair in a major suburban Atlanta area all-black high school, I had all incoming 9th grade students tested on the Nelson Reading Test for 13 years, from 1987 until 2000. Of the approximately 600 incoming 9th graders who were tested for each of those 13 years, approximately half, or 300 students, were reading on 6th grade level or below. The range of reading scores, each year, for those 600 incoming 9th grade students, was from 3rd grade level to grade level 16 (senior in college level).

For educators to believe that a 9th grade student who reads on a 4th grade level can achieve the same Common Core Standards, in the same number of months, as a 9th grade student who reads on a 12th grade level is folly. If we put our heads in the sand, as educators, and refuse to see this basic instructional truth, we will continue to create an untenable instructional situation in schools throughout Georgia, in which students will continue to drop out of school because of instructional frustraion – which educators, themselves, will have unknowingly created.

I will keep writing this basic instructional truth until someone high in educational influence is willing to see the importance of having teachers teach students where they are functioning, and will act upon that knowledge.”
—————————————————————

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

Hootinanny Yum Yum

May 9th, 2012
12:21 pm

While Beverly Hall is complicit. She is actually a victim.

The truth is that it all started with No Child Left Behind.

Ergo… Bush’s Fault.

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
12:21 pm

Mary Elizabeth,

The reason people have stepped in and attempted to a apply a “business” model to the schools, is that your way was failing miserably. All the social experimentation and the teaching of concepts of the 70s-00s was turning out an increasingly inferior product at an ever increasing cost. High school graduates were coming to businesses to work and they couldn’t even write a complete sentence. I’ll concede the faults of standardized testing, but the folks that are paying the bills deserve some accountability from the “educators”.

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:21 pm

JHM – I’m sure you just sent Joseph to his religious institution of choice where he is praying to his god that he take away the stain of being called gay. Now, how are we supposed to have an honest debate with him if you’ve sent him off like that? :)

ty webb

May 9th, 2012
12:23 pm

does this mean I can now paste my comments from the Momania blog here at jay’s place?

TM

May 9th, 2012
12:23 pm

I like the Principal who was testifying this week and said that you can’t hold her responsible for the teachers at her school who cheated. Sound just like Hall who claim that she should not be held accoutable for the acts of the teachers or principals. Yet it is Hall who hires and tells the Principals that they would be fired unless scores improve and it is the Principals who hire and tell the teachers the same. Hall got her money and big bonus and the others get thrown out on the street.

Jm

May 9th, 2012
12:23 pm

Blame bush is the subtext here

What teachers don’t believe in accountability? Figures

If you can’t fire a teacher and judge them based on poor testing performance, what’s their purpose? Baby sitting?

I can pay $10 an hour for that.

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:25 pm

As far as education goes, I think we need to look at and study some places that are doing it better than us (and by “we” and “us” I mean the entire USA as a collective group) and try and implement some of the things others are doing. Typically, I’m not a “just follow the others and do what they do” type of guy, but when South Korea, Japan, India, and most of Europe ect. are so far ahead of us in education, we need to look at doing something different.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

May 9th, 2012
12:25 pm

Well, I want the Death Penalty for somebody.

I mean, here us good rednecks come up with a way to get what we want without paying more taxes. I mean, it seemed like a good way to put the screws to the teachers and school boards if they never give us what we want. Which was, turn our good redneck kids into Norman Einsteins without getting in the way of NASCAR races and such. And make sure they all get the Hope Scholarship to boot.

And what do the teachers and principals do? Why, they come up with a way to put the screws to us. We were paying them bonuses and slapping each other on the back and saying we knew all along if we just threatened the teachers they would make all our kids big-time pointy-heads without making them read and get ruint by it. Turns out they cheated us blind.

And that’s why I want the Death Penalty for them. We been hoodwinked real bad. If I never knowed better, I’d say we were mighty stupid to have fell for this.

Have a good Hump Day everybody.

ty webb

May 9th, 2012
12:26 pm

drop all standardized testing, and promote through merely participation…oh, and remove all scoreboards from athletic facilities.

Don't Tread

May 9th, 2012
12:27 pm

“High school graduates were coming to businesses to work and they couldn’t even write a complete sentence.”

That has now morphed to “college graduates”. We have some folks at work with college degrees and yet are dumber than a box of rocks. Don’t ask them to spell correctly or use the correct word in a sentence…that’s asking too much. We won’t talk about the lack of math skills, or the inability to read and follow written directions, either.

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

ty – Exactly what do standardized tests test? And what do teachers that are working towards their students taking a standardized test teach? Is it possible they test only the student’s ability to take a very long and pointless multiple choice test? And is it also possible that the teacher is going to teach the test and not the material? Just curious what your thoughts are on that.

RB from Gwinnett

May 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

Who thought it was a good idea to let the test papers go home with teachers in to begin with?? If Beverly and any principal can’t figure that one out, do they really have any business teaching ANYTHING?!!!

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:33 pm

RB – That could be the first time I’ve agreed with you on anything.

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:38 pm

This is the deadest Bookman post I’ve ever seen.

Doggone/GA

May 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

“Who thought it was a good idea to let the test papers go home with teachers in to begin with??”

Test papers went home with every teacher I ever had.

Generation$crewed

May 9th, 2012
12:40 pm

We can all agree that genetics play a role in who we are.

So we also need to agree that some folks are just plain dumb! Others are smart. But each and every person does have skills or abilities.

Maybe our education should be geared toward developing those skills and abilities, to give the kids the best possible chance of life success. Instead of trying to teach all the same and achieve the same results for all.

Why is it hard for our politicians to admit or at least consider that some folks are dumb when forming education legislation?

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:42 pm

Doggone – Probably not the standardized ones. Assuming they had standardized tests back in the dark ages. ;) Seriously though, all the standardized tests I ever took were immediately collected by the office and sealed and sent to whomever graded them. I always assumed that was the way it was supposed to be.

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
12:48 pm

good time for me to work on that coding that I see people do here.
[b/] is this how? [/b]

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

[b] bold [/b] No?

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

godless – Use instead of [ & ]

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

Okay, I don’t know where they went, but I typed <

East Lake Ira

May 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

RB from Gwinnett

May 9th, 2012
12:51 pm

Here’s a question for you all to ponder from our previous thread.

The quality of any product or service is nearly always determined by the customer. In the. Ase of our education system, who is the customer? Is it the child, their parent, their future employer, or society as a whole?

One of the major issues we have with the current system is that all of those entities want to believe they are the customer and define what quality means, but they all have a different definition of quality and the system can’t make them all happy.

Doggone/GA

May 9th, 2012
12:51 pm

“Probably not the standardized ones. Assuming they had standardized tests back in the dark ages”

yes, they did. And yes, they did. In fact in one class we sat and watched the teacher grading a standardized test in front of us. Same teacher who gave the test.

East Lake Ira

May 9th, 2012
12:52 pm

godless – go here and copy and paste…

http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
12:53 pm

Doggone – Really? The teachers graded the standardized tests? Y’all didn’t have scantrons or whatever they’re called now? Wow, old people amaze me. :)

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
12:56 pm

skipper, 11:55

“@ Mary Elizabeth,
Some conservative (NOT TEA PARTY, THOUGH) folks realize that what we are doing DOES NOT WORK! What started out as the right to a free public education has morphed into the biggest cluster imaginable.”
————————————————————–
There is some truth in what you say, skipper, however there are also many excellent public schools. My own child graduated from one of the best public high schools in Georgia, as an honor graduate, and went on to do well in college.That was about a dozen years ago.

However, propaganda, coming from sources of the far right, has attempted to make the general public perceive that public education – across the board – is failing. I would support charter schools more fervently than I do, if I thought that the intent behind the Charter School Amendment to Georgia’s Constitution was to have charter schools work with traditional public schools in order to enhance the quality of instruction within both. But I do not believe that. I believe that there is a stealthy agenda to dismantle public schools, first through the creation of more and more charter schools, and then through using public tax money – through vouchers – to support private schools, for the reasons I gave earlier, i.e., a business model for education. If that model supplants traditional public schools, I believe that children will ultimately be used for profit and teachers will be viewed as commodities for profit, with less pay and benefits. This will not serve children, nor education, itself, well.

However, I do believe that public education must change and improve. I believe that it must change in the ways I described on the Atlanta Forward blog, which I restated, here, at 12:16 pm.

Public education must educate ALL of society’s children. If charter and private schools had to accomplish that massive undertaking, I doubt that they would fare as well as traditional public schools. We probably need a combination of educational approaches that would include traditional public schools and charter schools, but charter schools that work with traditional public schools. However, charter schools must remain public schools and I do not believe that they should be managed by private firms, for profit.

Parents who wish to send their children to private schools should certainly be able to do so, but not with public tax dollars. Those tax dollars are meant to educate the masses of children in Georgia.

I do not want to see traditional public schools depleted of resources by having parents, like the “white flight” phenomenon of the 1980s, withdraw their children from traditional public schools for charter schools, leaving public schools, once again, segregated – but this time by wealth and class status, if not by race.

How much better a model would it be to see traditional public schools working with public charter schools for the betterment of all of the children. That cooperative model, moreover, would be an excellent one for students to see and emulate. Unfortunately, I believe that the charter school movement has become more political in nature, than educational. That will not serve students well.

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
12:57 pm

Bold on Bold off

Doggone/GA

May 9th, 2012
12:58 pm

“Y’all didn’t have scantrons or whatever they’re called now? Wow, old people amaze me”

Well, back in MY day…they had overlays that had the spots popped out that were supposed to be the correct answers. Probably just as accurate as the fancy machines and a WHOLE lot cheaper!

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
12:58 pm

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
1:01 pm

Doggone – Next you’re going to tell me you walked to school both ways uphill in the snow (even in the spring and early fall). ;)

(ir)Rational

May 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

godless – Yeah, I just figured it out yesterday.

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
1:04 pm

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
1:07 pm

Strike?
Color?

skipper

May 9th, 2012
1:10 pm

@Mary E.,
While your heart is in the right place, your facts are not. You have a right to an opinion, and you defend it admirably. However, NOBODY except a few “crusaders” will stick their kids in an inner-city Atlanta school, a fact that you probably alredy know. (Don’t take my word for it…look at the numbers.) Call it racist, rich against poor, etc. but there is not a soul right now (save for a few) who would move to Atlanta for a job and stick their kids in many of these schools! Until society quits making excuses, until parents realize that the schools cannot and sould not raise their kids, and until accountability becomes a buzzword for everyone, it will get worse. When these kids can’t read past a 4th grade level in the 9th grade, that is not all school!!!!!!! Rant and rave; i’ll defend your right, but ten years from now it will not be any better…..unless folks find the proper plave to put the blame…poor parenting, lack of discipline and (Lord forgive me) stupid people!

godless heathen

May 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

My favorite color is blue red!

Mick

May 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

One of the greatest myths created in our time…sure there are some schools that are not doing well but by and large, the public schools of today are vastly superior than those of yesterday. Here’s why; In the 40’s and 50’s you could actually drop out in the 8th or 9th grade and still find employment. In the 60’s, the space race was on and education was being promoted and pumped up. The 70’s were the last decade of the least amount of federal intursion into education. Education will always be a three leg stool (parents, students, teacher) remove any of those legs and the stool will fall. Two factors impact education today, the disintegration of the family and immigrant students who do not know english, plus the doubling of our population. The elite core of our students can match wits and compete with the best and brightest of any country on earth. The stats are skewed because we test everybody, no exceptions. The new testing regime is a republican thing that dems caved into with nclb. These new testing companies are in it for the money. The only testing company that is valid and reliable is SAT, they have been testing for decades. It is an extremely tough time to be a student where creativity and critical thinking has been replaced by robotic curriculum geared toward the test. I am very glad that I got my education in the late 50’s and 60’s, the teacher was always right, and you had to take responsibility for your work, what happened???

GeeMac

May 9th, 2012
1:14 pm

JM – I teach 70 students a day, for an hour each. How I wish I could make $700 a day! By the way, your $10/hour rate will cost you $12,600 over the course of the school year, for just one child, which is far more than most taxpayers contribute to local and state tax coffers. Public education is a bargain.

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
1:19 pm

“High school graduates were coming to businesses to work and they couldn’t even write a complete sentence”
————————————————————

Godless Heathen, to best respond to your comments to me, please read my posts at 12:16 pm and 12:59 pm which I think will address your comment, above.

Public schools must create ways to ensure more individualized on-target instruction, whether through small groupings of students on certain days within the larger class group, or through team teaching, or through more tutorial help, in order to address the individual instructional differences that will always be present among students. That is a diagnostic/prescriptive educational approach. It can be balanced with more creative approaches, as well, on different days or in different classes. But, the point is not to take resources away from public education, but to help refine it.

Also, please read my link to my blog on the need for “Mastery Learning” which I gave at 12:16 pm, I believe.

St Simons - he-ne-ha

May 9th, 2012
1:21 pm

hey, there’s a native story that explains what happened here

[in my granny's voice, as best as I can remember]
a long time ago, there was soldier-fort general in south Georgia (that’s
what they called it; it was our nation before) named Mark Wilcox, trained
by that great yellow hair George Custer, but that’s another story. He was
“assigned” to guard the grain/food stores down here, but we all knew that
meant starve the natives out. See, they (privatized) all the hunting lands
and told us we could no longer hunt for food. So there was no way to get
food for the women & children. So some angry, desperate brave fathers
determined they would make a run for some of the grain/food stores to
feed their women & children. They felt they had no choice. But God would
surely forgive them from taking some, because what human beings would
put innocent people in such a situation. Of course the “brave” general
was waiting for them, and slaughtered many braves & innocents,
and called it a great victory over an Indian attack – what you young
people call a “setup” today.

If you understand funneling, school funding, No Child’s Behind Left,
the current model put in place by Bush & his rubber stamp congress,
and his drooling dingleberries at the red state level, you’ll get this.

sadly, that was a true story – on both accounts. My grandmother
thought they had changed their ways, maybe they were shamed and
wouldn’t practice such treachery any more, especially on children.
How could you call them human beings if they did?

Adam

May 9th, 2012
1:28 pm

Typically, I’m not a “just follow the others and do what they do” type of guy, but when South Korea, Japan, India, and most of Europe ect. are so far ahead of us in education, we need to look at doing something different.

And that “something different” isn’t “fire teachers” or “Get rid of the national education system” in those cases. So maybe we should look at that.

Education suffers from inflated costs in the post secondary world, which turns out less teachers since less people can get educated to educate, and from massive funding cuts on the state and local levels, especially in poor areas where it is needed most.

You cannot base the success of a student or a teacher on test scores. It just won’t work. The best way is to reform the process by which you educate. Classroom sizes have gotten larger and larger, and the amount of teachers available AND who know what they are doing has gotten smaller and smaller. We need to reward those who want to go into education, ESPECIALLY if they are willing and able to teach in poor areas. We also need to make sure every supply that is needed is provided, not expected to be paid for by the parents who probably are barely scraping by to put food on the table. All of that costs money – the one thing conservatives absolutely will not allow.

Adam

May 9th, 2012
1:30 pm

GS: Maybe our education should be geared toward developing those skills and abilities, to give the kids the best possible chance of life success. Instead of trying to teach all the same and achieve the same results for all.

Why is it hard for our politicians to admit or at least consider that some folks are dumb when forming education legislation?

That is true, but we also need to avoid labeling children as one class of learning ability versus another, because that can lead to either feelings of superiority or inferiority in the child.

Adam

May 9th, 2012
1:33 pm

RB: Ase of our education system, who is the customer? Is it the child, their parent, their future employer, or society as a whole?

One of the major issues we have with the current system is that all of those entities want to believe they are the customer and define what quality means, but they all have a different definition of quality and the system can’t make them all happy.

Society is the customer, in your scenario (although I disagree with likening this to a business, but whatever, let’s go with it). The system can’t make them all happy, just as in a business you will never make 100% of your customers happy. Do you close up shop because you had one loud and b*tchy customer? No. Do you close up shop because you have a ton of bad employees? No again. Basically, you have to adapt to make the “business” run to make as many people happy as possible, IF that is your goal. Let us also assume for a minute that profit is not at all a motive, to make this analogy more fair.

Joe Hussein Mama

May 9th, 2012
1:35 pm

(ir)Rational — “Really? The teachers graded the standardized tests? Y’all didn’t have scantrons or whatever they’re called now? Wow, old people amaze me.”

Clearly, you have never luxuriated in the heady aroma of a purple just-mimeographed-and-still-damp handout or test from the teacher. This, of course, being back in the pre-Xerox days.

Mary Elizabeth

May 9th, 2012
1:40 pm

“it will not be any better…..unless folks find the proper plave to put the blame…poor parenting, lack of discipline and (Lord forgive me) stupid people!”
=========================================

Skipper, blame casting does no good for any situation. Better to roll up one’s sleeves up and start helping to alleviate the problems. That takes money and commitment. Charter schools may be one answer, but they are not the answer for the masses of students if they leave behind myriads of students stuck in even more resource depleted schools.

Many still deny that LBJ’s emphasis on a “War on Poverty” helped society. I am not one of those people. I am one who thinks that the “War on Poverty” did help because I saw, firsthand, many elevated through it. Obviously, when one places a focus on any endeavor, it will improve.

This nation fundamentally changed its focus from the alleviation of social ills – which were generations and centuries in the making (slavery, Jim Crow) in the 1960s and early 1970s – to a focus on the accruing of personal wealth and self-interest since 1980. Until our society-at-large again values together working for the alleviation of society’s ills – that go beyond education – such as poverty, itself, education will suffer as a by-product of social ills and poverty.

We cannot run away from this basic truth by escaping into “charter schools” any more than “white flight” could escape the damage that segregation, itself, had reaped upon America. We must care again to give a helping hand to our fellow Americans, instead of simply judging them.

skipper

May 9th, 2012
3:04 pm

@Mary E.,
Just stating facts, ma’am. While I admire your spunk, once again nobody is gonna move to Atlanta for a job and stick their kids in some inner-city APS school unless they have no choice. It just is not going to happen.the board members are (for the most part) incompetant, and while its not fair to judge kids, folks will hardly sacrifice the future of their kids to be part of this cluster. It is not bigotry or anything else…. it is fact. And while you have a utopian idea to cure it all, look back ten years from now and see what happens when parents expect schools to do their jobs, they have multiple kids out of wedlock by different sperm donors (this is a fact…..not a typical mean spirited ploy; read the stats) and they elect buffoons to the board. Of course anybody who can will run from this nightmare. People will swear they won’t, but secretly they would haull tail in a minute. The right to vote (and it is a just right) did not guarantee the intelligence to vote. Thus, the cronies go in. This is why the deteriation of the inner-city, especially minority areas, has lasted. The right to vote, etc. is rightfully enforced, but the right to be smart is not. It is a great societal ill, and one to which there is not a simple answer. Many people will not even want to help at all until some kind (Lord knows what) of new system is instituted.

East Lake Ira

May 9th, 2012
3:29 pm

Skipper, you are flat out wrong. Check out all the hullabaloo recently regarding redisctricting and the fight to keep Coan Middle school open and the overcrowding at Inman Middle and the all our fight to be zoned to Grady and it’s exceptional programs.

Not all APS schools are exceptional but then again that can be said about any suburban system in the area.

Your prejudice is showing.

skipper

May 9th, 2012
4:05 pm

Ira,
You, too, look back ten years from now at the cluster that USED to be APS before it was taken over by some (at this time unknown) entity. Until then, prejudice or not, facts or not, etc. it will not get better. How, exactly, could it?????? For real! How??????

Meliwa

May 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

I’m sorry, but I live in the Grady HS district. While the majority of the students pass and graduate, there’s a shocking number of the same kids I see every summer on my way to work getting on the MARTA bus to go to Grady to summer school. Same kids every year, they’re just a year older. As great as Grady and APS like to tout the school’s programs, obviously some of them are falling through the cracks and nobody is helping them get any closer to graduating and being prepared for the job market.

Mack H. Jones

May 9th, 2012
5:25 pm

Manipulating student test scores may be inexcusable but given the dynamics of the misguided No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy the behavior of those involved in the cheating scandal is quite understandable. Indeed that is why, as reported by the AJC, the Atlanta school system is simply one of hundreds of other systems in Georgia and throughout the country where such cheating occurred. The NCLB regime calls for ranking school systems based on student progress as measured by student test scores, and ultimately the career fortunes of principals, teachers, and administrators are tied to test scores. The higher the test scores the greater the chances for career advancement. However, given publicly available data we can predict with reasonable confidence which will be high performing and low performing schools. The test scores simply affirm what we already know is already known. Thus asking school personnel working in low performance schools to submit their predictable low scores with the understanding that their career advancement will be based on the reported scores borders on self-incrimination. It is not unlike basing the career fortunes of police personnel on crime rates in the districts or precincts in which they work.
The administrative hearings currently underway, or “star trials”, as I prefer to call them, serve no useful purpose and should be scrapped. Those accused should be accorded amnesty. They were all caught up in no-win situations. Report the low scores and their careers suffer. Manipulate the scores and their careers suffer.
As for the bromide about “cheating our children,” it is the class-based, inadequately funded and haphazardly structured system that cheats our students. As I argue in a blog post, http://theholecard.blogspot.com/2012/04/enough-is-enough-atlanta-journal.html, the tabloid-like sensationalized coverage by the AJC only compounds the problem.

lovedog

May 9th, 2012
9:33 pm

“If you can’t fire a teacher and judge them based on poor testing performance, what’s their purpose? Baby sitting?

I can pay $10 an hour for that.”

Jm, if I were paid babysitting fees to teach my each of my 22 students every day for 6 hours (taking away an hour for lunch and fine arts classes), my salary would be $237,000. I’ll take that any day over the $65,000 I’m making after getting a Masters degree and working for 17 years for the same “company.”

[...] Education?…just throw more money at it…that should help. But when we take it a step farther and use those same test results to dictate fates, we place a burden on testing that it is too fragile to bear. When that happens, the tests themselves become …Find out more from Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Tracing the test-cheating scandal back to its roots Yet at the same time, we are told, the one-size-fits-all public-school industrial model must be dynamited to make way for a more experimental, let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom approach to education via charter schools and even vouchers. Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Beverly Fraud

May 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Jay knew cheating was rampant back in APS as far back as 2001. NOT 2011.

2001.

Jay knew, because former AJC reporter Paul Donsky told him. Maybe not literally “told” him, but Jay had only to look at his own paper, where Donsky got a huge spread to lay it all out.

Funny though it was EXPLOSIVE (even a school board member went on the record to say cheating occurred) the AJC did no follow up. ZERO. (Word is Donsky wanted to follow up, but was shot down by AJC higher ups-ENTIRELY believable, as what reporter WOULDN’T want to follow up with a story that explosive?)

Still the story was out there, yet for SEVEN years Jay, Cynthia and crew were rendered MUTE because they wanted to believe (sell?) the Hall as miracle worker narrative.

Glad to see, unlike his fellow former editorial board members, Jay is taking some accountability and offering buyer’s remorse.