Sunday, August 29, 2010

“I wonder if they were given instructions and directions of how to constrain this investigation rather than to explore it”

'Lite' investigation of Atlanta test cheating |

This report is a textbook-quality example of how you write a new story when you don't have any new facts to present. On the face of it, it may appear that there's no need for such a thing, but the Sunday paper should contain a roundup of news that broke over the previous week. Plus, I have to admit, I smile to see this story refreshed. We must not be allowed to forget about this.
Atlanta questioned just 230 of 3,100 employees assigned to the 58 schools suspected in the cheating scandal; investigators spoke to three or fewer people at 34 of the schools. High-ranking school district officials — among them, the top aide to Superintendent Beverly Hall — conducted or observed 140 of the interviews. And a data analysis commissioned for Atlanta’s investigation appears to have limited the inquiry’s scope.

...When they ordered Atlanta to investigate the 58 schools, state officials gave directions as clearly as they could, said Kathleen Mathers, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Officials wanted the district to establish a chain of custody, Mathers said, by interviewing anyone who could have touched test papers at each of the 58 schools. Principals, assistant principals, testing coordinators, teachers, test proctors: All, she said, should have been questioned.

...The company’s president, John Fremer, recently defended Caveon’s work in an interview with WABE, the public radio station operated by the Atlanta school board.

“It was a very thorough investigation,” Fremer said. “Did we end up with people like in Perry Mason saying, ‘Oh, that’s it, I confess’? No. We didn’t end up with that. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.”

He offered no reasons, however, for the irregularities found in so many Atlanta schools — in the 12 Caveon cited, and beyond.

“It’s kind of puzzling to me why the overall level of wrong-to-right erasures is so great,” Fremer told the radio station. “I don’t have an explanation for that.”
Funny, that's exactly the question you were hired to answer. Way to admit incompetence, there.

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