What would you do if your teacher offered you assistance on a standardized test? I have never been in this situation, and I am very thankful for that, but many students in Atlanta’s public school system have been and the whistle was blown on this systematic cheating scandal in early July, 2011.
On July 5, 2011, a state investigation was released. This investigation showed that there had been rampant, systematic cheating on test scores in Atlanta’s public schools for the past several years. The cheating was wide-spread throughout the district and involved 44 schools and at least 178 teachers and principals. This cheating possibly occurred due to pressures to raise the schools’ public images as a long-trouble district or in order to meet standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act.
So who started this scandal? Right now, fingers are pointing to former Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, who was named the National Superintendent of the Year in 2009. Hall took over the Atlanta district in 1999 and there was a marked improvement in the schools under her leadership. However, when “clear and significant” warnings were raised about the possibility of cheating in the schools in December 2005, Hall ignored these reports and even went as far as to punish those who tried to report the cheating activities and hid evidence that was related to the tests during which cheating occurred.
As of right now, it is very difficult to determine how many students were affected by the altered test scores and cheating that was rampant during their education. However, there have been around 12,000 students who graduated from these schools and then needed remedial classes in college.
What does this mean for the future of our nation’s education efforts in school across the country, not only in Atlanta’s school district, which for several years had been a beacon of hope and improvement?
“It becomes a question of what it means to be education,” said Maria Pease, a parent of a high school student in the district. “Does it mean the highest test score? I would argue it does not. This is part and parcel of a general dysfunction that isn’t particular to Atlanta public schools.”
Via The NY Times