Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Running out the clock

CRCT scores analyzed after new cheating tips |
Investigators reviewing 58 Atlanta schools for possible cheating on state tests said Tuesday they continue to pursue tips and information that are important to their inquiry. That work, coupled with ongoing analysis of students’ most recent test scores, is the reason a special investigative panel delayed completion of its probe.
Am I wrong to suggest, as I did last week, that now that they've had an opportunity to see how much graft there is in APS, they are waiting to see how large their check will be?
...That lack of specifics angered John Sherman, president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, who said he has collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition seeking Hall’s resignation if the investigation confirms teachers cheated.
As someone opined a day or so ago, these "investigators" are trained in statistical analysis, not chain of evidence. There will be no such unambiguous conclusion--even though "everyone" knows what happened.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's bigger than you think

100 Atlanta school employees implicated in test cheating scandal |
An investigation of suspected cheating at Atlanta Public Schools has concluded that as many as 100 employees at 12 schools violated testing protocols, the chairman of a special investigative committee told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday.

Gary Price, chairman of the independent panel that was formed to investigate irregularities on state standardized tests at city schools, did not detail the violations, which could range from inadvertently violating test security rules to outright cheating. Price’s committee will release the key findings and recommendations from its exhaustive three-month inquiry on Tuesday.
Atlanta test cheating report delayed again |
The special panel investigating Atlanta Public Schools called off Tuesday's release of its much-anticipated findings -- the second such delay -- and the committee's chairman said Monday it could be several more weeks before the investigation is complete.

Gary Price, chairman of the independent panel formed to look into irregularities on state standardized tests at city schools, said last week the committee would release major findings and recommendations Tuesday, although he said then that the full report would not be complete by today. But on Monday, a statement from Price indicated that even the summary isn't ready.

He did not offer a specific timeline for release of the investigation's results but said the group's investigators need more time to complete their work.

"We do not wish to sacrifice accuracy for speed by adhering to an arbitrary, self-imposed release date," said Price.
You know, if Mr Price has learned (as so many reformers before him have done) that there's plenty of under-the-table money to be collected from Atlanta Public Schools, this is exactly what I would expect him to say.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The dog ate my investigation

Atlanta test cheating report delayed by a week |
A panel overseeing an investigation of 58 Atlanta schools for possible cheating on state tests announced it will delay by a week the release of its report. The decision came as investigators requested more time to finish their analysis.

A final report, expected Wednesday, will now be released June 22.
However, the investigators may be able to write a second report for extra credit.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Low-income youth"

Camp supplies needed to help low-income youth |
The Community Action Center needs a variety of items for children in its summer camp program.

CAC, which serves the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody area, will send more than 100 youth from low-income families to summer camps and also provide supplies and transportation as needed. Funding is also needed to support the camp project, said Kristen Ristino, CAC spokeswoman.
I guess there must be some low-income families in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, but I have to say it isn't the first place I'd look.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nonetheless, water is still wet

CRCT failures rise at schools suspected of cheating |
State test scores at metro schools suspected of the most widespread cheating last year dropped markedly this year, falling further in Atlanta than in other districts, preliminary data shows.

Steep declines in the number of Atlanta students who passed key subject tests threatened to reverse the upward climb that has helped bring longtime Superintendent Beverly Hall national acclaim.

...School districts should view stark score drops at severe schools as potential evidence of tampering, said Kathleen Mathers, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

“Generally, in schools where there proves to be a dramatic drop, we have concerns about what would cause that drop,” she said. “If it happens to be a school that had a high number of answers changed last year from wrong to right, that could be an indication that there had been intentional wrongdoing.”

...At Gideons Elementary, for instance, 92 percent of fifth-graders passed math in 2009. This year, just 39 percent did.

And at Dunbar Elementary, about 87 percent of fourth-graders passed math last year. But, this year, that number was 49 percent.
The article isn't quite clear on this point: They're comparing 2009's fourth-graders to 2010's fifth-graders. That is, this is the same group of kids that "improved" so dramatically last year, and can't seem to add 2+2 this year.

This could be the smoking gun.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

On the other hand, black is white and we have always been at war with Eurasia

State CRCT results improved this year |
Georgia students improved in almost all areas of the CRCT this year, with middle school students showing some of the biggest gains, according to statewide results released Wednesday by state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox.

For Cox, who soon heads to Washington to run a new national education nonprofit, the report offered a chance to leave on a high note.The scores represent the second consecutive year of solid gains for the state's elementary and middle-schoolers. Cox was quick to credit educators across the state, who beginning in 2004 faced a rolling implementation of a new, tougher state curriculum that in some cases caused scores to plummet.
"Just keep a lid on it until I'm out of town," Cox was heard to say as she ducked out of her office, ignoring all questions.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

But there is still a chance water could be less wet than expected

Atlanta testing investigation in last stages |
Investigators reviewing 58 Atlanta schools for possible cheating last year on state tests plan to incorporate this year's results into their analysis, potentially providing a blueprint about which students may need additional remediation because teachers changed their scores.

A final report will be released June 16, although work won't stop then.

The chairman of a community panel overseeing that work announced Monday that the ongoing investigation will likely result in the referral of employees from 12 Atlanta schools for possible testing violations. On Tuesday, chairman Gary Price said more than a dozen employees were involved, although he said "the numbers are changing as we speak."
Not unlike those on the test papers?

Monday, June 07, 2010

In other news, sky still blue, water still wet

Panel chairman: Atlanta school employees are likely to be referred for testing violations |
Employees from 12 Atlanta schools will be referred for possible testing violations, according to the chairman of a community panel overseeing an investigation into possible cheating on state tests last year.

The announcement came as investigators wrap up their work, which included a review of 58 city schools. A final report will be issued next week, said Gary Price, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the panel's chairman, as he updated Atlanta school board members about the process.

Despite questions from board members seeking more details, Price declined -- because of the ongoing investigation -- to give an exact number of employees, the nature or severity of what they may have done or the schools where they worked. However, John Fremer, president of Caveon Test Security, one of two firms the panel hired to conduct the investigation, said there was a close correlation between the 12 schools where the employees worked and schools the state raised the most concerns about.
A close correlation. This is don't-blame-me-ese for "They're guilty as sin, it's obvious, and you should have seen it yourselves."

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Getting down to bid-ness

Atlanta schools defy bid rules on wireless contracts |
Atlanta’s public school district continues to violate federal rules aimed at preventing waste and abuse in technology projects, undeterred by a scandal that cost it millions of dollars and sent two former employees to prison.

Questions about favoritism surround two contracts for which the district is seeking reimbursement from the federal E-rate program, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. The irregularities put Atlanta at risk of losing more than $30 million in E-rate requests and could invite other penalties from federal regulators.
A casual glance at APS' history with high-tech purchasing and operations implies the existence of dozens, if not hundreds, of laughing salesmen. They were more than happy to take the money and run, leaving APS with either the flat-out wrong stuff, or (best case) inadequate quantities of the right stuff. Penny wise and pound foolish, my dad used to call it.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Welcome to the planet Earth. We have much to teach you here.

Laid-off educators offered state help in finding new careers |
Revonda McKnight will finish a degree in early childhood education next year and had looked forward to teaching.

She likes working with children, school hours and "having the summers off." But she's been thinking of going in a new direction since she was laid off from her job as a paraprofessional at Powder Springs Elementary School.

"I'm thinking I might want to do something else at this point," said McKnight, 42.
Well, yeah, being laid off from one job could be seen as a hint to look for something else.

So they're attending classes at Chattahoochee Tech. Well, that'll help keep THOSE teachers employed...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It takes a strong hit from the money machine

Georgia again files bid for feds' education cash |
Georgia officials offered no dramatic changes Tuesday in their second attempt to qualify for the Obama administration's $4 billion Race to the Top schools fund.

It's an effort that could bring $400 million to Georgia.

In meeting a federal reapplication deadline for the fund, which rewards states that embrace education reform, state officials instead fleshed out ideas federal reviewers previously found vague.
[But control of local schools is in the hands of local authorities. Right.]