Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who watches the watchmen?

Bowers, Wilson to investigate CRCT |
The cheating scandal at Atlanta Public Schools raised questions about what happened during tests in hundreds of classrooms. Now, two seasoned litigators will begin digging for answers.

The two men have conducted numerous high-profile investigations. Each once served as top prosecutors, only to step down to seek higher office and then suffer defeat. They have since become successful private attorneys with reputations as hard-nosed litigators.

Taking extraordinary action last week, Gov. Sonny Perdue picked former state Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to head a special investigation into testing irregularities at the Atlanta and Dougherty County public school systems.

J. Tom Morgan, who worked in the DeKalb DA's office under Wilson and worked with Bowers in private practice, said both men are detail-oriented lawyers who are compatible with one another.

"They will call it as they see it," Morgan said. "They will leave no stone unturned. Neither one of them is scared of anything."
ATL superintendent loses shine |
Hall insisted during an interview Thursday that Atlanta’s gains during her tenure are real. “We have stayed the course for a very long time in a very difficult environment,” she said, referring to the district’s mostly poor, highly transient student body. In the interview with AJC editors and reporters, Hall also asserted that no cheating has been proved, any cheating was perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals,* and that the aggressive teacher accountability system that she initiated had nothing to do with any wrongdoing.

“It’s always possible,” she said, “for some human being to cheat.”

But the district’s skewed data call into question the two feats most responsible for Hall’s national stature: the dramatic increase in the graduation rate and the skyrocketing scores on state and national achievement tests.

...For a month before schools administer the test each spring, records show, transfers spike at Forrest Hill Academy, an alternative school for students with academic or behavioral problems. Concentrated at Forrest Hill, contained by wrought-iron and chain-link fences,** these poor-performing students no longer are liabilities to their home schools. Instead, their CRCT scores count against Forrest Hill, where failure rates on portions of the exam run as high as 97 percent.
Looks like the grown-ups have finally taken an interest in the people who've been playing school over at Atlanta Public Schools. It's about time.

* Gosh, thanks, Dr Hall. I was sure it was all the honest folks who were cheating. Thanks for setting us straight.

** Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses, are they still in operation? I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course.

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