Tuesday morning Governor Deal held a news conference to release the outline of findings concerning the state’s investigation into the CRCT cheating scandal. After Georgia State Attorney General Sam Olens gave his approval, Deal then released the full 800-page report to the public.
Outline of Findings
-Cheating was discovered in 78.6 percent of the schools examined.
-38 principals were found to be responsible for, or directly involved in, cheating.
-Signs of cheating on the CRCTs as early as December 2005 and that “warnings were significant and clear and were ignored.”
-There was a major failure of leadership throughout APS with regard to the ethical administration of the 2009 CRCT.
-The APS created ” a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in APS, which created a conspiracy of silence and deniability with respect to standardized test misconduct.”
-Additional improper conduct found included several open record act violations; instances of false statements; and instances of document destruction.
Additional Findings of Report
-The report states that former Atlanta Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall knew about the cheating accusations on the CRCT and either ignored them or tried to hide them.
-Found evidence of cheating goes back to 2002.
-Found that the changing of answers often occurred at weekend “erasure” parties.
-Discovered that in some cases, teachers pointed to the correct answer during testing while standing over the students’ desks.
-Cited cases where students were denied special-educational assistance because their falsely reported CRCT scores were to high to qualify for the assistance.
-The report identified Parks Middle School as the school with the most educators accused of cheating, under the direction of then principal Christopher Waller.
Dr. Beverly L. Hall
Former APS superintendent Beverly Hall, recently retired, had maintained she had no knowledge of the cheating and denied that educators played a part in changing answers to raise test scores. Hall held that position until she emailed a video message to employees just before her retirement where she admits that cheating did occur and was wide spread. Based on her statement, Hall seems to acknowledge cheating occurred and was system wide yet she was unaware of it and did not take part. In late May, Dr. Hall said “I expect the investigation to draw some troubling, no alarming, conclusions” and went on to say “It’s become clear that a segment of our staff chose to violate the trust that was placed in them. Let me be clear, there is simply no excuse for unethical behavior and no room in this district for unethical conduct.”
The statement from Dr. Hall is not supported by the findings of the report. The report states that not only was she aware, but that she either ignored or tried to hide the cheating.
Dr. Hall received the National Superintendent of the Year Award in part for improved student achievement scores among the APS system.
There should be major repercussions as a result of this report. The findings leave no doubt that the cheating was organized and system wide. Teachers were pressured by principals, and principals were pressed by higher administrators. The misconduct went all the way to the former superintendent, Dr. Beverly Hall.
A copy of the report will be forwarded to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the state agency that is responsible for teacher certification.
The District Attorney’s of Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas counties are reviewing evidence and deciding if cases will advance to criminal prosecution.
The state’s report brings attention to the “Blue-Ribbon” commission that was comprised of business and community leaders that investigated reports of cheating in city schools last year but found fewer offenders and determined there was no organized cheating. Many had questioned the “independent” status of the commission at the time of their report. Many of the members on the commission either had business connections to the school system or personal connections to Dr. Hall.
Based on the findings of the state report, the validity and actual purpose of the blue-ribbon commission must be reexamined. How could the two reports come to such different conclusions?
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