Georgia answer changing scandal is shocking

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

I just re-read several of the AJC’s stories on the test scores scandal that started with Atlanta Public Schools and has now spread to hundreds of schools all over the state.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

It’s now suspected that answers were changed on the spring’s state standardized tests in one out of every five public schools in Georgia.

That’s a stunning number, one that leaves little or no faith in Georgia’s public education system.

Although we live in a county where the public schools have a strong academic reputation, I’m concerned that there’s so much pressure on school systems to post successful test scores, answer changing, if not stopped right now, could reach almost every district in the state.

 The extent of the scandal, which led to Atlanta’s children being a punch line to a Jay Leno joke, is overwhelming:

The Atlanta district is home to 58 of the 191 schools statewide that are likely to undergo investigations into potential cheating. Another 178 schools will probably see new test security mandates, such as stepped-up monitoring during testing.

The findings singled out 69 percent of Atlanta elementary and middle schools — far more than any other district — as needing formal probes into possible tampering.

Then there’s this:

The top five most suspicious schools statewide were in Atlanta. Gideons Elementary, Peyton Forest Elementary, F.L. Stanton Elementary and Usher/Collier Heights Elementary all had more than 78 percent of classes under suspicion.

In the district’s Parks Middle School, nearly 90 percent of classrooms had highly unusual erasures.

At Gideons, for example, “an average of 27 of 70 answers on each fourth-graders math test were changed from wrong to right in one classroom.”

No wonder so many private schools are popping up all over the metro area these days.

Ty will be starting kindergarten at a public school next month, so the grade-changing scandal hasn’t affected me, but any parent, whether they have kids in Georgia’s schools or not, should be appalled.

Were you surprised when you heard about the scandal?

Will you enroll your children in a private school this year?

Have you lost faith in Georgia’s public schools?

Coming Tuesday: Georgia football coach Mark Richt talks about family, faith and adoption and other issues in Part 1 of a Q&A that I had with him last week.

- By Andy Johnston, for the Momania blog

53 comments Add your comment

Karia

July 11th, 2011
2:15 am

To answer your questions….

I was surprised by the extent of the scandal, but not entirely surprised in that it seems an inevitable deterioration following the ridiculous mandates of No Child Left Behind. Does that excuse what they did? Absolutely not! I am appalled that these people, who were trusted by so many, would stoop to such levels of corruption.

My children will not be enrolled in private OR public schools this year–we will joyfully embark on our fourth year of homeschooling. After several years in a so-called Christian private school that ended up exhibiting different, yet also incomprehensible corruption at its highest leadership level, I lost my ability to trust strangers with the serious task of educating my children.

My kids are absolutely thriving at home, and we couldn’t be happier. I think our nation will see an even larger surge in homeschooling because of this scandal.

Have I lost faith in Georgia’s public schools? This mom has lost faith in institutionalized education, period. This latest scandal only further cements my husband’s and my decision to give our kids the best through homeschooling.

tc

July 11th, 2011
7:11 am

I homeschool my kids and one reason is because I don’t believe in the CRCT being given every year. My kids went to public school for several years and they want to go back to public school in 8th grade and I really would like for them to do so. They still have all of their friends from public school and they talk about all the fun things they get to do. Also with all of the options for clubs, etc., I want them to get involved with those activities. I know these options are available for homeschoolers too, but none of them are near me, so I have to drive far to get my kids involved with activities. I feel they are getting a good education at home and with all of the CRCT scandal that is going on right now, I am rethinking their re-entry into the public school system.

MyOpinion

July 11th, 2011
7:48 am

No, I am not surprised by the scandal. However, even if I had children in the APS system I would not enroll my child into private school or home school. Although majority of my teachers and principals were awesome in educating their students, ultimately the responsibility of my education fell to my mother and myself. This concept is what fails many parents today. They can tell you that their child passed the CRCT, but they are not able to speak about their child strengths and weakness in the classroom. For the parents that are informed about their child abilities in the classroom and work on improving weaknesses and maintaining strengths out of the classroom, these children are usually fine whether they are in public, private, or home school.

I have not lost faith in GA public schools. For every one public school that cheated, there was four others that did not. The four that did not cheat provides hope for me. However, I was a junior in 2002 when NCLB was implemented. I remember having a discussion with my peers and stating that while NCLB was a good thought, it will eventually force schools to cheat because its overall goal of 100 percent of students meeting state standards by the 2013-2014 school year is unattainable.

www.honeyfern.org

July 11th, 2011
7:49 am

I was not surprised, and I do believe it is more widespread. When you set impossible targets, cut funding and add pay-for-performance bonuses, this is what you get.

An ethical educator would not have changed scores, period, but the pressure to perform is intense and unrelenting, and for what? A test that means nothing (50% gets a passing score) and does not correlate with any future success.

The emphasis on testing is what public school has become, which is why I left to start my own school. My own child, attending a “good” magnet school, was bored and not challenged, and one year out of public school changed all of that; entering the second year, she is curious, excited and engaged.

I feel terrible for the students this affects, as they have lost years of instruction and are now entering the workforce (or not). I think more cheating will surface in the other, ongoing investigations around Atlanta.

homeschooler

July 11th, 2011
8:27 am

“An ethical educator would not have changed scores, period, but the pressure to perform is intense and unrelenting, and for what? A test that means nothing (50% gets a passing score) and does not correlate with any future success”

I agree with this. The expectations are near impossible but I can’t understand how it could have possibly gotten to this level. The lack of morality of these teachers is unbelievable. These teachers held “erasure parties”!! There was no shame in what they were doing.

The reasons that I homeschool are so great I could not possibly list them all but one reason is that I can not stand the focus on standardized tests which have nothing to do with “learning”. Also, I want to be sure who is teaching my kids. If they can’t speak proper English themselves or if they are using drugs, abusing their own children, cheating etc..I do not want them to be an influence in the lives of my children.
I am thankful that I live in an area that has substandard schools because it forced me to make the decision to homeschool. Had I lived in an area with “good” schools, I would be sending my children off everyday to a system that goes against everything I believe in. I do believe that kids can go to school anywhere and, with enough personal strength and parental involvement, can succeed. I’m sure my kids would have been “just fine” in school. But my hope is that they will be better than “fine” and everything they were meant to be.

btw..my neice is a victim of the NCLB act. She has never been able to read well. My sister begged the school to hold her back in elementary school. She is getting straight A’s in high school. Her spelling is horrible and she failed a basic math test she needed to take to get a job. Her CRCT scores were always barely passing, but passing. Wonder if her teachers had erasure parties??

newblogger

July 11th, 2011
8:39 am

As an educator, this makes me so angry. It makes us all look bad even though the majority of us are ethical and would never dream of doing something like that. Yes, 1 out of 5 schools is guilty….but 4 out of 5 schools aren’t. Please don’t lose faith in public education. Not everyone can afford private schools and not everyone can/or wants to homeschool. We really aren’t that bad! It’s a shame that some ruin it for everyone. There are bad apples in every cart…police officers who abuse their privileges, pilots who fall asleep, politicians who aren’t honest..I could go on and on. Yes, I know, teachers are different because we shape the future. But please do not lump us all in there together. There is nothing inherently wrong with “public school” itself. Most functioning adults are the products of public education and most of us do just fine. The problems lie with the few educators/administrators/school boards, who think they are above the law or feel pressured beyond common sense to do the unthinkable. I do think the whole testing aspect has gotten way out of hand, but I still don’t understand how someone who spends 180 days with a child could take away validity of their efforts and bring a cloud of doubt over their test scores. This will have a lasting effect on some of them and that is so sad. I could go on and on but I will step down off of my soapbox now and try to hold my head high because I am proud to be an educator and just as proud to teach in a public school.

Lori

July 11th, 2011
8:41 am

I did find all this pretty shocking, but it hasn’t affected my son at least. He is in private school, because I already had a lack of faith in Georgia’s public education system (at least in the county where I live). However, I’ve got another child on the way, and I won’t be able to afford private school for two, so I’m going to have to consider public school next year and this is weighing on my mind heavily as I begin to look at relocating to another part of the city. I just can’t believe that that many teachers are so unethical. I could understand a few corrupt individuals, but to have so many is outrageous.

motherjanegoose

July 11th, 2011
9:24 am

When teachers are lying and covering things up…it is a sad day. I never, for one moment, think teachers are perfect. Most try to teach honesty and hard work to the students. How can you have these expectations when you are not prepared to be honest yourself?

I mentioned, several weeks ago, that I am disappointed in a trend that seems to be creeping into society: not as many hard working, honest, kind, thoughtful and generous people. they are certainly out there but the ranks are thinning. I was cut down by some here who said my world must be a sad place. I do not live globally but interact with people in all 50 states. I have seen quite a few things and continue to do so. Most months, I interact with people in 3 or 4 states.

My husband and my own college kids ( living at home this summer) have also come home with crazy stories about what is happening , in their arenas. I have witnessed more examples since making the previous comment. I have even chatted with others, whom I have met during my travels, about it. I am not the only one who sees this trend and it scares me as I wonder what life will be like in 25 years.

This scandal is an example of what I am talking about. Would this have happened 25 years ago?
Many will say there was too much pressure and that will be the simple excuse. If you have no money and bills to pay, should you steal?

It takes character to do what is right when everyone around you is doing something else. Hard stuff.
Every week, we are hear about folks who seem to have no character. When it they are in a role model situation, it is really tough…especially for children. Makes me sad.

DB

July 11th, 2011
9:29 am

Why is everyone so surprised at this? What do people expect when both a teacher AND child’s performance is tied to ONE test taken in April (not even May, at the end of the year)?

My children did attend a private school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. There was absolutely no pressure to perform well on the annual tests that were given in the elementary school, and during the entire year, you never heard a whisper of “this will be on The Test, so we need to concentrate on this.” In fact, the kids usually didn’t even know when the tests were coming — we’d get a note the week before with the request that we please make sure that the kids had a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast on those two mornings. Big whoop.

The school used the test scores to judge their OWN performance — in second grade one year, all the kids were consistently a bit below average on one of the math tests. Guess what? The teachers and the principal came up with a different way to present the curriculum, and in two years, the kids were performing significantly better. For this alone, private school was worth it to our family — not being “taught to the test” and without all the pressure on young kids to perform well on a random comprehensive exam.

If schools were allowed to simply teach math, reading, social studies, and critical reasoning skills instead of being expected to teach manners, social skills and act in loco parentis to a generation of children whose own parents are often to selfish to be effective parents, their success rate would be much higher.

motherjanegoose

July 11th, 2011
9:33 am

@newblogger…mine both went to public school. For the most part, they had GREAT teachers. I thank you for your commitment.

I know many fine teachers in public and private schools. That being said, I have seen that school is not the same as it was when mine started. Many teachers are caught up in testing scores, to protect their jobs. It seems like all they can teach is for the tests. Some administrators do not understand how small children learn, “that looks like playtime and fun not what we want here.” It makes me sad, as learning CAN be fun, especially for Kindergarten. When children are already burned out in 2nd grade, what can be done? I see teachers who are weary, in October…what?

DB

July 11th, 2011
9:34 am

RE: Andy, your comment, “Are you going to enroll your child in private school this year?” is a little naive. You don’t just walk up to the office and say, “Where do I sign up?” Any decent private school is looooong past their application and acceptance deadline, which was back in January or February. While some schools may be suffering from fallout due to the economy, there’s ALWAYS a waiting list at most decent schools of families who are dying to plop down a significant chunk of change to give their child a private education. So parents just finding this out now are basically stuck for a year, unless they choose to homeschool or they find a space at some boutique third-tier school.

DB

July 11th, 2011
9:40 am

@MJG: I remember one school we interviewed with when my son was entering kindergarten. He had had a rough morning, and I had gotten lost driving to the interview, so we were late, I was frazzled and he was hungry (it was just before lunch). The interview was a disaster :-) The teacher who interviewed him came out and said, with her nose up in the air, “Well, he seems to be having trouble settling down, this is probably not the right place for him, our kindergarten expectations are more like first and second grade in the amount of desk time the children have.” I looked at her and said, “Really? Well, in that case, you’re probably right, this is NOT the right place for him — or any five year old, for that matter.”

April

July 11th, 2011
9:52 am

So many good points have been made here already.
My children already attend private school. At the time my oldest entered school there were no acceptable public school alternatives where we live. That has since changed. While I think we now have some great public schools in our area, we love our school and have no reason to leave.
I think it is very telling that even with the bad economy, private schools are appearing everywhere. It is possible – with some research and questioning- to find a good private school for your child even at this late date.
It is sad what has happened in public schools. The pressure on students and teachers to perform well on one test is heartbreaking. There has to be a better method of accountability.

homeschooler

July 11th, 2011
9:56 am

I don’t know why our society can’t see that one of the big problems is the things that are expected of 4 and 5 yr olds. What was wrong with playing in Kindergarten and starting “school” in first grade. I noticed with both of my children (and they are as different as night and day academically) when they turned 6 they gained this desire to sit and learn. Before that, they were not focused and preferred to play,draw, sing etc.. Now there is this big push for more,more more. Why does a 5 yr old need to keep a journal, or write sentences etc.. The problem is that they put all this on the elementary age kids and could care less what they do in middle and high school. Developmentally, kids are sponges in 1st thru 4th grade. If you fill their minds (and expect NOTHING in return). They will recall the information if it is presented again in 5th-8th grade. My 10 yr old has never, ever taken a history test and can tell you details about every war and every major president in American history. That’s learning. He never even wrote a sentence until 2nd grade.
My 7 yr old can barely tell you what state she lives in but she can write a paragraph like you wouldn’t believe.
It’s amazing when you focus on what they enjoy, how the other things just fall into place. I know that this is not possible in any sort of school with 20+ kids in a class but I wish we wouldn’t focus so much on lumping elementary kids together, expecting they all know the same things at the same pace. Just creates non-learners.

www.honeyfern.org

July 11th, 2011
10:00 am

@DB, I would normally agree with you, except in the case of new private schools (like mine) that are small. I still have space, but as a new school it is difficult to recruit. Some of the private schools with waiting lists are fabulous, others are just so-so, but they all charge too much. My max enrollment will only ever be 8 students, and it does take awhile to build a tight-knit community (smaller is harder, believe me!), but don’t write all schools who aren’t full off!

I am just another option; there are choices out there!

www.honeyfern.org

July 11th, 2011
10:02 am

Sorry, @DB, I should clarify; I was addressing your comment at 9:34. Your other comments (about your 5-year old and the ridiculous teacher, and private school’s ability to modifiy instruction to fit the student instead of vice versa) were spot-on!!

Techmom

July 11th, 2011
10:06 am

I hate paying tuition but it seems like the only way to escape “the tests”. Sure my son’s school has standardized tests but the emphasis and pressure to perform are on a totally different level than public school. The same is true as when I was growing up and went to public school; we knew we had tests at the end of the year but no one was willing to risk their careers to make sure you/the teacher/the school passed. I am simply baffled by the large number of teachers who were willing to risk their careers by changing answers. Why NOT just teach your kids properly so they can pass the tests?

mystery poster

July 11th, 2011
10:53 am

To answer your question, no I was not surprised.
The drastic gains that these schools were bragging about would leave anyone with a healthy sense of skepticism scratching their heads. The article said one school went from 79% failing to 85% passing from 2000 to 2001. Who in their right mind thinks that’s not suspect?

TurkeyLurkey

July 11th, 2011
11:08 am

@Techmom – “Why NOT just teach your kids properly so they can pass the tests?”
IF it were that easy, we would not be in this mess. Teachers are given the impossible job of teaching every student at the same level. Not every student comes into the classroom at the beginning of the year with the same set of skills. In an ideal world students would all progress at a minimum level of competency from kindergarten through 12th grade, but in the real world, this does not happen. Intellectual aptitude, environment, genetics, expectations in the home, and a host of other factors play into the rate at which a child succeeds. It is the same as expecting a coach or PE teacher to train everyone to run a four minute mile with each athlete receiving the same amount of instruction and practice and all wearing the same size shoes.
We would never ask anyone to attempt that job nor would we expect our children to be able to accomplish it.

Lisa

July 11th, 2011
11:09 am

My Son will be attending Private School.

HB

July 11th, 2011
11:12 am

Ah yes, the good old days when everyone had good morals and no one cheated or stole…

Nostalgia is blinding. No this teacher cheating scandal wouldn’t have happened because teachers weren’t being evaluated with so much emphasis on standardized tests. There were student cheating scandals, though (several over the decades at the Air Force Academy), and several involving college coaches cheating on recruitment, etc. And did you know crime was considerably higher 25 years ago? I bet workplace discrimination against women and minorities was more common too. I fell blessed to be a youngish woman in the U.S. In 2011.

The whole test-centered model is ruining education and cheating, although wrong, was predictable under these conditions.

motherjanegoose

July 11th, 2011
11:22 am

When teacher’s jobs are on the line, they may do drastic things. As a teacher, I meet lots of other teachers. They are all worried about their jobs. Testing is sadly a BIG part of it.

I recently met with early childhood teachers in Florida. One told me that she was a Reading Specialist. She was so excited about the original ideas I shared that strengthen language to literacy. Another told me that she has attended staff development for over 20 years and rarely finds something new that she can use….my ideas fit the bill. She said that she would be recommending me to her principal. My point, these ( seasoned and experienced) teachers CAN see the validity in meshing learning with FUN. It is too bad that some cannot or will not. These are classrooms where children can get burned out very quickly.

Teaching facts and teaching children how to learn, discover and make applications are different things.

Name animals that swim in a pond: ducks, frogs, turtles, fish

What is different about these animals that swim in a pond: ducks, frogs, turtles, fish.

motherjanegoose

July 11th, 2011
11:25 am

HB…..the world has never been a perfect place…I agree!
I know you think I am KUKOO and that is certainly your right.

mystery poster

July 11th, 2011
11:30 am

The irony is that the parents who are most vocally upset are the ones whose children probably passed the test on their own anyway.

HB

July 11th, 2011
11:41 am

But beyond never being perfect, do you really think it’s worse now than 25 years ago? When crime rates, including violent crime, were higher? Or 50 years ago, when segregation still existed and hate crimes in the South were frequent? When exactly was this time of stronger morals and character that you speak of?

Wayne

July 11th, 2011
11:49 am

We just recently went through a round of budget talks for our regional school system. The biggest item of note was the amount of money that is needed for Special Ed/Needs kids. So, we have a teacher who has 25-27 kids in a classroom, possibly no aides because parents may or may not be volunteering and there is not enough money to hire aides, teaching to all levels of students, and oh, by the way, all these kids have to pass this test otherwise you’ll be in trouble with government.

Who didn’t see this coming?

Both my boys will be in private school come this September. I’m not happy about it (costs!) but my oldest is in that school now and doing wonderfully. The public school system here? – not so good.

Cammi317

July 11th, 2011
12:06 pm

My daughter is in private school entering 8th this year and will stay through 12th grade. They also take standardized test, but it is not a determining factor of whether they proceed to the next grade. That is determined by their actual class grades and class test scores….imagine that….

www.honeyfern.org

July 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

And more cheating found in PA schools: http://bit.ly/oOlWvv

This is just the beginning. Should be renamed “Most Children Left Behind.”

Counterpoint

July 11th, 2011
1:06 pm

“My daughter is in private school entering 8th this year and will stay through 12th grade. They also take standardized test, but it is not a determining factor of whether they proceed to the next grade. That is determined by their actual class grades and class test scores….imagine that….”

That comment actually scares me! Basically what your saying is that your private school just lets kids pass onto the next grade regardless. I know many kids in private schools that can take a test as many times as they wish until they get a good grade, they only record the best grade. What is that saying about private schools?

I know that the cluster my kids attend in GCPS always is tops with CRCT results because they push the heck out of those kids on top of their normal everyday school work. I know my kids are getting a great education but they are overworked and expected to achieve and always be top in the county. I compare and contrast them to neighbor kids all the time in priavte schools and I feel that I am not throwing away money now that could be spent on college later. I refuse to pay $10K a year per kid and my kid to be coddled in a private situation!

I hope GCPS is policing who they are letting into our schools, I have a feeling that we are going to see what we have seen from Dekalb. If you want your kids to go to GCPS, buy a home here. Stop cheating the system(s)!!!!!!

April

July 11th, 2011
1:46 pm

@Counterpoint – there are great public schools and great private schools – just like there are bad examples of each. Not all private school kids are “coddled” just as not all public schools cheat. Cammi317 never said,” private school just lets kids pass onto the next grade regardless.” She said that her children were evaluated on the knowledge of the material as assessed on classroom grades and tests. A good teacher does not need a standardized test to determine whether a child has mastered material.
Every parent has different philosophies and priorities. You are welcome to yours, but so are other people who differ from you.

Andy Johnston

July 11th, 2011
2:37 pm

Thanks for the great comments.

DB — I didn’t necessarily mean this year, but in the future. That wasn’t clear in the question.

lwa

July 11th, 2011
2:40 pm

I am not that shocked at the reports, but I am disapponted.

In any industry where “perks” are tied to performance, there is going to be some cheating going on.

I would like to know, why do the teachers have access to the kids answer sheets after the testing is completed? Where are the proxy’s for the exam?

Once the test are completed and gathered, why can’t someone, anyone other than a teacher/educator/school board member gather the test as is and send them it. That seems like a simple solution to me…..

There are good and bad public schools and good and bad private schools. As parents, we must send our kids to an instituion of learning that is best for our household and our needs.

DB

July 11th, 2011
2:50 pm

@Mr. Jane Goose: Really? Publicly mocking another participant? This is your idea of contributing? Since when are self-employed people considered to be “government workers”?

@Counterpoint: What Cammi is saying is that the private school doesn’t depend on a test to tell them what they can tell from their own experienced two eyes: Either a kid knows the stuff or they don’t. I’ll take the evaluation of a teacher that I respect and who knows my child and their strengths and weaknesses over that of a one-shot test any day of the week.

We had one great example: When my daughter was in 2nd grade, she fibbed about needed to complete a project (one of the team teachers was out on sick leave for several weeks – my daughter informed me that the project had been postponed until the teacher returned.) The substitute consulted with my daughter’s lead teacher, and asked if she should call me to let me know. The lead teacher, who knew my daughter well, smiled and said, “No, I know her mother — let her fail, it will teach her more than the project ever will . . .don’t worry, her mother won’t roast you!” Sure enough, grades come out — with a big fat “U” in this subject. The opportunity for a “teaching moment” was priceless: My daughter lost out on attending a school festival the next week, was grounded for a month with extra chores, and had to do the project ANYWAY, even if she didn’t get credit for it. It was a great lesson to learn at an early age, when it didn’t screw up your GPA :-) BUT! It took a teacher who knew my daughter, who knew me, and was willing to let her fail to drive the lesson home.

DB

July 11th, 2011
2:56 pm

@lwa: I would imagine that security with be considerably strengthened next year. I know that for the AP exams, our private school hired parents or aides from the middle school to proctor the exams and trained them how to administer the exams. I was a proctor for several years, and it was very, very strict – the teacher wasn’t even allowed in the room before or after the exam and any student having to use the restroom had to be escorted. I only had to write up exceptions for two instances over the six years I proctored exams (I did about 5 to 6 exams each year).

newblogger

July 11th, 2011
3:05 pm

@Iwa…I had the same question. At my school (and in the system I work for) nobody is EVER allowed to be alone with the tests for any reason. There are always 2-3 people with them when they are not under lock and key. I know that was the case with the scandal too, and all involved kept there mouths shut. I just don’t see how it could happen. The answer sheets are completely separate from the question booklets, so you’d have to have both spread out to make sure you were changing the wrong answers to right. You couldn’t write the answers on a piece of paper and transfer them later because there are several different versions of the same test within each class. I am baffled at the lengths to which these people went to cheat. We are never allowed to have the question booklets and answer sheets in the same room after the children take the test. We do have to look over the answer sheets to make sure their names, school, system are correct before they are sent off, but the questions are nowhere near. I’d rather just teach and not have to worry about a standardized test, but since that isn’t reality, I’m glad we go to such extreme measures for test security and validity. I teach in a county that typically has high test scores and I don’t ever want to be accused of anything like that.

Vicky Wells

July 11th, 2011
3:14 pm

Not surprised in the least. It’s going on all over the state of Georgia, but school employees don’t want to become whistle-blowers because they fear for their jobs. Don’t think for a minute politics are not in it. The higher-ups know all about it. They just tend to overlook it and hope that know one investigates. It’s all about making AYP!!!

daily sidelight

July 11th, 2011
6:03 pm

I think the problem lies deeper than in cheated test. It lies within the measures they take to compare education. It’s easy to prepare students for tests, and they seem to be well educated, but they’re often only well prepared with countable facts; do they really know coherences and backgrounds from inserting the right answer in a standardized checklist? Are the students guided to love reading and books when they are forced to read instead of feeling invited, encouraged, and fascinated? We allow to put our children in uniforms instead supporting their individuality, self-expression and satisfaction. We allow to control them instead of trusting them. I would love if you’d like to read my blog… trying to show terrible, but obvious coherences: http://www.dailysidelight.wordpress.com

RJ

July 11th, 2011
6:59 pm

I’ve taught at several schools over the past 15 years, and I’ve NEVER seen a kid retained for failing the CRCT IF they were passing their classes. There is a loop hole in place that allows the parents to appeal the decision. Students are also required to re-take the test in the summer. If a child is passing their classes/subjects and performing in class, they won’t be retained.

I’m not shocked at all, but I am saddened. With the Race To The Top funds, I don’t expect it to end.

“…there’s ALWAYS a waiting list at most decent schools of families who are dying to plop down a significant chunk of change to give their child a private education. So parents just finding this out now are basically stuck for a year, unless they choose to homeschool or they find a space at some boutique third-tier school.”

@DB, that is just not true. You don’t have to spend $20K a year to get a great private school education. There are schools that have rolling admissions that are just as good as any “elite” school in Atlanta. There are so many options for parents in regards to private schools. Parents that want a to enroll in private school have choices that are not “boutique third tier schools”.

For the record, APS has come fantastic schools!

motherjanegoose

July 11th, 2011
7:48 pm

This is kind of interesting and could relate:

“Pressure to perform well” …which seems to be the issue in the test scores….

http://www.equitynews.info/2011/06/16/david-o-friedrichs-crime-in-decline-not-necessarily/

ssidawg

July 11th, 2011
8:22 pm

Too much emphasis is put on test scores. I have a 2 year old and I dread the day he has to start dealing with these standardized tests. They are treated as the end all-be all to determining a child’s intelligence which is absolutely ridiculous.

DB

July 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

@RJ: There are 76 schools that are members of the Atlanta Association of Independent Schools. Unless you are a “special purpose”, such as those dealing with learning differences, then all schools are required to adhere to the same admission schedule, in which they cannot advise applicants of their application decision until a date in the beginning of April. My comment about a “third tier boutique school” wasn’t a slam on their quality — but there is a definite hierarchy of private schools in Atlanta that is based primarily on demand.

RJ

July 11th, 2011
10:51 pm

@DB, thank you for clarifying your response, however I don’t buy into the hierarchy that you speak of. Additionally, I know for a fact that some of these schools have a rolling admissions policy. You can research this on your own.

My oldest attended catholic school during the elementary years. Last year I contacted the local catholic high school in October to ask about admissions for that school year (she was a sophomore). I was told that there were slots available and she could be accepted and begin classes. Every school is different. Again, you can research this on your own. My point is that there are quality private schools out there with slots available. Your kid doesn’t have to attend Westmister or Woodward to get a good education. You can even get one in the right public school. You can make generalizations. What’s right for one kid, may not be a good fit for another. That’s why choice is so important.

RJ

July 11th, 2011
10:52 pm

I’m sorry, that should’ve said “you can’t make generalizations”.

Hmmm

July 12th, 2011
8:37 am

If a particular private school is so darn great, then why would there be any slots available?

RJ

July 12th, 2011
10:13 am

@hmmm, reading is fundamental. Try reading my post first.

DB

July 12th, 2011
10:48 am

@RJ: Many private schools and parochial schools maintain “courtesy” slots for transfers. For example, if a child is attending a good private school in, say, Washington, DC, and their parents want them to continue attending private school in Atlanta, the child is almost guaranteed to get slipped into a slot somewhere. The same goes for the parochial schools, especially if you are Catholic.

No, you can’t make generalizations. But I think you’ll agree that those open slots are few and far between, even in the third-tier schools. And, of course, there are a few small schools that don’t belong to the AAIS, so they set their own schedule. But the vast majority of the schools do belong to AAIS.

Former Teacher

July 12th, 2011
12:38 pm

While I cannot emphasize enough how appalling this is, it also comes as no surprise. However, the excuses being thrown around “afraid for my job”, “the pressures of the testing” yadda yadda, don’t hold water. After 20 years in GA Public Schools as a teacher, there are no threats that could have been made to make me do such a thing. If it had even been suggested, it would have been reported IMMEDIATELY! I believe that the majority of teachers feel the same way!

With regards to private school or homeschooling over public schools, if this scandal is the only reason the change is being made, then it is a stupid decision! I have cleaned up the mess behind many incompetent private school teachers as well as shoddy homeschooling. At the same time I have worked with students who received stellar educations in all three environments!

The bottom line in all of this is that regardless of the lip service and cute acronyms (NCLB) or catchy names (Race to the Top), a child’s education will be as good as the effort he puts into it AND the expectations to which the parents hold him. No ifs, no ands, no buts…. Plenty of students do very well despite having crappy teachers and plenty manage to not achieve despite having some of the best teachers available!

When parents remove their students from school for weeks so that they can go to Disney or wherever, but yet same child will NEVER miss one day of summer band camp or football camp, we see the priorities…. the true blame for shoddy education and accolades for quality education lie with the students & parents!

RJ

July 12th, 2011
2:27 pm

@DB, this was no “courtesy” slot since my daughter attends public school and we are not Catholic. Again, you would need to research this on your own. As I sought out a school for my son two years ago, I found the same to be true. Schools had slots available and were willing to fill them. Regardless of if they are few and far between, they do exist. And as you stated, not all schools are members of AAIS, some are members of SACS. I can name several schools that are not members of AAIS. In the end, it’s about doing what’s right for one’s child. I believe in public education, which is why I am saddened by what happened to students in APS. I received a solid education in the public schools. I chose parochial for my oldest because the schools where we lived were not the best. Now, I’ll be choosing it again for my youngest because I can’t stand the test focus.

@Former Teacher, you are dead on in your comments. Amen!

Producer

July 12th, 2011
9:50 pm

Our schools have a record of high academic achievement? What a farce! If you consider a rank from between 47 – 50 over the last 50 years high. Guy, what are you smoking? Georgia’s kids are borderline drooling morons. National stats don’t and haven’t lied.

Ann

July 13th, 2011
5:34 am

@ Counterpoint You state “I know my kids are getting a great education but they are overworked and expected to achieve and always be top in the county.” Your schools may be great, but are you not concerned about your kids being overworked? It seems like a path to possible early burnout. I believe kids should learn, but why is there this push to overwork them thinking this is the key to future success? Kids have lost opportunities for free play because of this overworking and there is a big downside to that, as free play is important for child development. The American Academy of Pediatrics has voiced strong concern over this trend.

@ HB It’s very difficult to compare crime now and 25 years ago, and say that it is lower. Current crime statistics are frequently based on watered down plea deals because courts and jails are overstressed and overcrowded, so this can give the impression of lower violent crimes, when it may or may not be the case.

@ Hmmm “If a particular private school is so darn great, then why would there be any slots available?” There will always be a number of slots available at various times due to changes in family situations where the kids are no longer planning to attend – moving, job transfers, job loss, lack of money for tuition, school not being the right fit and dropping out. Also, I believe parents apply at more than one school, in case they are rejected at one, so slots open up when they don’t choose a particular one they are accepted into.