A report released yesterday by Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, asserted that 178 educators in Atlanta, including 38 principals, cheated on state standardized tests. All told, 44 of 56 schools investigated were found to have cheated.
A report from today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution says:
“Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes. Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets. Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.
Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.
For years – as long as a decade – this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal…”
Here’s an TV interview with federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in which he says the widespread cheating was systemic and that it would be improper to blame all of the teachers, the vast majority of whom do a good job. In fact, Sec. Duncan mentions that all teachers are ‘not to blame’ so many times…he is almost believable. On the other hand, it is a mistake to focus on what teachers did or did not do “ the test taking NCLB culture, the intimidation, and high stakes nature of it all encouraged the cheating.
Read an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constituton about how teachers were bullied at the Atlanta’s Parks Middle School and you will see how difficult it may have been for some staff who were threatened and harassed to avoid cheating.
So spare us, Mr. Duncan, the not-all-teachers-are-bad distraction. Instead let’s look at the high stakes testing culture that created this scandal.
Read an update on the Michelle Rhee’s DC testing scandal, dubbed Erasergate.