Keylina Clark was puzzled when her son told her shortly after taking state standardized tests last year that he knew he’d passed.
Dequayvious struggled mightily in school. His Blalock Elementary report cards said he was below grade level in reading and math. Then the second-grader explained his confidence: A test proctor gave him answers, he said. Clark believed him.
Atlanta Public Schools, however, apparently did not. Though two other students supported the boy’s claim, the district marked the complaint unsubstantiated.
Considering the hundreds of thousands of test-takers each year, formal complaints about test cheats are relatively rare.
The Atlanta district, however, has received more such claims given its size than any of the five other large metro districts, an AJC investigation shows. The newspaper also found the district’s handling of 20 cheating complaints in three school years raises questions about how it polices its educators.
Atlanta’s investigations differed from those of its metro peers in key ways, the AJC found. Investigators sometimes left allegations unresolved, turning up fresh questions about suspected irregularities but never scrutinizing them. The district was more likely to mark complaints unsubstantiated. Fewer teachers stepped forward to help investigators and more complaints were anonymous, making eye-witnesses harder to find.
And in three years, records show, just two teachers left after the district found cheating. Departures were more frequent in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.
Monday, August 31, 2009
AJC investigative reporter Heather Vogell’s story in the weekend AJC raises troubling questions about the response of Atlanta Public Schools to CRCT cheating complaints. Vogell compares Atlanta’s responses and protocols to those of other districts.
APS does not fare well in the comparison.
For instance, Atlanta logged 20 internal complaints of testing misconduct over the past three school years.
Compared to other metro systems, Atlanta sometimes left allegations unresolved, turning up fresh questions about suspected irregularities but never scrutinizing them, according to Vogell’s report.
The district was more likely to mark complaints unsubstantiated. Fewer teachers stepped forward to help investigators and more complaints were anonymous, making eyewitnesses harder to find.
Over three years, Vogell found that the district began termination proceedings against just two teachers after cheating was found. Departures were more common in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.
In Cobb County, educators appeared quick to report potential problems with testing protocol. When the district determined a serious breach was committed, the outcome was often severe: Five teachers resigned over the three years.
DeKalb and Fulton reported fewer complaints, but also stiff consequences for serious misconduct. Seven educators left as a result of 17 investigations in the two counties. Gwinnett had one resignation. Clayton reported few complaints and no departures.
In Atlanta, one of the teachers who left after after an investigation had been disciplined for an earlier testing rule offense.
CRCT cheating is in the news because of a state probe suggesting cheating occurred in schools in four districts, including one APS school. APS Superintendent Beverly Hall has challenged the state Board of Education’s decision to discard results from last summer’s fifth-grade CRCT math retests at Atlanta’s Deerwood Academy.
The state school board ruled against Deerwood and three other Georgia schools after an audit by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement found evidence of an abnormal number of erasures on the tests. The state investigation followed an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December about improbably steep gains at some schools on tests taken first in spring and then in summer.
Hall defended Deerwood and hired her own investigator who concluded that “irregularities” in the school’s testing process stemmed from negligent record keeping, laziness and not following the rules rather than deliberate cheating.
Hall’s reaction raised questions about whether APS is willing to honestly confront CRCT cheating complaints. Vogell’s story is likely to prompt more questions.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | My Prom debut... on the ukulele: "Musician Jim Simmons signed up to join a chorus of 1,000 ukulele players at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. But how did it sound?""It probably wasn't the most beautiful noise ever to have come out of the proms but it was a joyful experience."
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
AJC: School uniforms: The look of change in ’09:When the new school year started last week, students at Gwinnett County’s Simonton Elementary had a new look - a uniform look.
Hannah Montana T-shirts, blue jeans and sandals were out, replaced by collared shirts in black, yellow and white with coordinating shorts, skirts and slacks and closed-toe shoes.
Miles away in Clayton County, the trend toward uniform dress, which was already in the elementary and middle schools, became the countywide standard as it moved into the high schools.