Video: 35 Atlanta educators to surrender today in massive cheating conspiracy

posted at 2:01 pm on April 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

They had until noon today to surrender to police in the worst cheating scandal involving standardized education testing in American history. The thirty-five teachers and administrators represent only the first round of potential defendants in the appalling story, where “educators” spent more effort in burnishing test scores than in actually educating children — who got left behind in service to the ambition of the school system. CBS reports on an unusual type of Enrollment Day:

Investigators say Atlanta’s school district orchestrated a culture of cheating to benefit those at the top.

Nearly 200 educators admitted to taking part in the massive scandal: they tampered with students’ standardized tests and corrected answers to inflate scores. Some teachers had pizza parties to erase wrong answers and circle in the right ones. One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.

At one middle school, 86 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, compared to 24 percent the year before. Prosecutors say that progress was a criminal mirage.

“The four principle crimes that are charged in the indictment are the statements and writings, false swearings, theft by taking, and influencing witnesses,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. said.

Beverly Hall is Atlanta’s retired school superintendent. Her system’s turnaround won her national fame, awards, and more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. But investigators say she pressured teachers and principals to cheat, and punished those who refused. Hall, among those indicted, has denied the charges. A grand jury recommended her bail be set at $7.5 million.

One of those left behind was Nybria Collins, now 15 and reading at a fifth-grade level. Despite failing her classes, she kept passing the standardized tests, leaving her mother to wonder what was happening at the public school. Instead of being prepared to succeed in adulthood, these “educators” left Nybria to fail for a lifetime while they had pizza parties to cover up their incompetence.

The indictments involve racketeering charges, which carry a maximum 20 years in prison. Compared to the length of the damage they did to children like Nybria, that’s letting them off easy.

Perhaps school choice will get a closer look, at least in Atlanta.

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so much emphasis is put on these damn tests that EVERYTHING is centered on taking it it, not on learning anything.

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I understand that problem – but I would say the problem does not lie with the tests themselves, but how these teachers and administrators choose to try to get around them. If your performance is not up to par, I believe reasonable and honest people would/should be looking for how they can improve their actual performance – not how to cheat the evaluation process.
To me, THAT is the fundamental flaw in our system – that we have people in charge who are more willing to cheat for their own benefit than to do the hard work of solving the underlying problem.

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

BTW, what other school districts around the country have and are doing the same thing..?

d1carter on April 2, 2013 at 2:07 PM

My guess is ALL of them, to some degree or another!

Marco on April 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Lighten up. I was playing with you. I know that it was a typo.

Resist We Much on April 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

If you think that comment was anything but a lighthearted response in return, I’m not sure what to tell you.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Lighten up. I was playing with you. I know that it was a typo.

Resist We Much on April 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

If you think that comment was anything but a lighthearted response in return, I’m not sure what to tell you.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM

rearrange the following letters to make a word that describes an important part of the human body that works best when erect:
n i p s e

Your answer will determine whether you are better suited for medical school or Congress.

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Texas’ latest test was hailed as a test to measure reasoning, common sense, etc – a move away from those evil racist standardized tests. The theory, as I understood it, was that it did not require special test-taking skills or special education – it was just a measure of learning.

So of course, the schools then teach how to take the test all year long, then test, retest, retest, retest – all in the name of preparing for a test that is supposed to be a measure of what they just know.

If you want to base performance off of testing – give a test day 1 of a school year and establish the baseline. Teach, yes actually TEACH all year. Screw the crap about teaching for the test – just teach, then at the end of the year test again. Measure change. Voila.

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Resist We Much on April 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM
If you think that comment was anything but a lighthearted response in return, I’m not sure what to tell you.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM

You know what, so there’s no doubt.

If you think “my” comment was anything but …

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Snipe.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:13 PM

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I think we really are on the same page, or mostly.

I just know good teachers who I think actually care and want to educate, but it’s not in the lesson plan – so I can’t place the blame 100% on the educators themselves.

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Snipe.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Snipe hunting – good activity for politicians….
But not a part of the human body. No med school for you…

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:18 PM

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

What you’re hitting on is along the line of what I’m also trying to say. When teachers think the right answer is to teach test taking and teach the standardized tests, then they are trying to cheat the system – and there’s something wrong.
The tests need to properly measure whether the kids are actually learning what they should be learning – and we need teachers with enough integrity to do their job and teach the kids what they’re supposed to be taught – and let the test results show how it’s all coming together.
With the mentality and ethics, and resulting approach of these kinds of teachers and administrators (the subjects of the article, and what you’re saying), why not just spend a few years getting kids to memorize the answers to the ACTs or SATs – and get them all “qualified” for the best colleges?

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:26 PM

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:18 PM

It’s been demonstrated on many occasions I’m not the best speeler on Hot Air; give me another chance.

Pines.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Pines stand erect.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Yeah, we’re saying the same thing essentially then. I’m with you.

Thanks for the conversation!

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Pines stand erect.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Uh ya – I was just complaining to my doctor about how my pines hurt. I didn’t like his cure cuz needles were involved….

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Instead of being prepared to succeed in adulthood, these “educators” left Nybria to fail for a lifetime while they had pizza parties to cover up their incompetence.

While in no way excusing these crimes, that statement is wrong in principle. Why can’t she continue her education until she catches up?

OldEnglish on April 2, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Teachin’…who got time fo dat?

BL@KBIRD on April 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Teachin’…who got time fo dat?

BL@KBIRD on April 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Werd.
You axin me why I teaches English?

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 6:13 PM

What you’re hitting on is along the line of what I’m also trying to say. When teachers think the right answer is to teach test taking and teach the standardized tests, then they are trying to cheat the system – and there’s something wrong.

The tests need to properly measure whether the kids are actually learning what they should be learning – and we need teachers with enough integrity to do their job and teach the kids what they’re supposed to be taught – and let the test results show how it’s all coming together.

With the mentality and ethics, and resulting approach of these kinds of teachers and administrators (the subjects of the article, and what you’re saying), why not just spend a few years getting kids to memorize the answers to the ACTs or SATs – and get them all “qualified” for the best colleges?

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 5:26 PM

To stop teachers from ‘teaching the tests’, isn’t the obvious answer to not show the teachers the tests until they unseal the package on the day the test is given?

slickwillie2001 on April 2, 2013 at 6:24 PM

To stop teachers from ‘teaching the tests’, isn’t the obvious answer to not show the teachers the tests until they unseal the package on the day the test is given?

slickwillie2001 on April 2, 2013 at 6:24 PM

That makes perfect sense to me.
They’ve proven they can’t be trusted with the answer sheets.

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2013 at 6:32 PM

My late mother taught for many years with APS, and I have kept in touch with a number of her former colleagues. Based on a conversation I had with one of my mother’s former co-workers, I absolutely believe many or most of the teachers involved were pressured to cheat – that, or face retaliation for not doing so.

This post highlights one school where math proficiency exploded in one year. This is a purely circumstantial speculation, but it doesn’t make sense that widespread cheating would begin without some initiating force. Altering tests is unethical for sure, but that this became such a major problem so quickly hints at higher-level prompting.

The tendency here will be to trash the teachers while assigning no blame whatsoever to the parents and students themselves. Make no mistake about it, I am not saying the teachers were correct for cheating, but a large part of this goes to the parents who send their children to school poorly disciplined and with low expectations, yet expecting miracles from the students’ teachers. And yes, I will go there – some of this is cultural.

I used to do grades with my mother, because she liked to calculate her grades using spreadsheet programs. Quarter-after-quarter, year-after-year, I noticed a trend: When she had an Asian student, he or she would always rank first or second in the class. Tbh, the Asian student usually ranked first, and sometimes by huge margins. Nearly all of the other students were . . . as was my mother. Do you think my mother, an . . . woman was particularly interested in her Asian students over the other students? The reality is, the Asian students came to school with different expectations from home. They were taught to and expected to behave in class, be respectful, do all the work, pay attention, and strive to do well. This is a huge part of the problem with APS. I don’t think school choice is a bad idea, but I don’t think school choice is the solution to the problems with APS.

In fact, I think school choice may feed into the notion that there is some large-scale customer service component to the education of children. 2+2=4 everwhere – no exceptions – and every school has an honors or gifted program for students doing particularly well. Any school where teaching is going on is a good school, especially for a student who’s making a real effort to learn. Parents to clarify to their children what they expect from their children academically, and they need to enforce those standards.

The Bringer on April 2, 2013 at 7:28 PM

To stop teachers from ‘teaching the tests’, isn’t the obvious answer to not show the teachers the tests until they unseal the package on the day the test is given?

slickwillie2001 on April 2, 2013 at 6:24 PM

This should’ve been done since the first year the bloody things were started. The tests should be under lock and key by the principal and handed out the exact class period that they’re needed.

MelonCollie on April 2, 2013 at 7:58 PM

so much emphasis is put on these damn tests that EVERYTHING is centered on taking it it, not on learning anything.

WhaleBellied on April 2, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I’ve wondered for years why it is that teachers need to “teach to the test”. Why don’t they try just teaching kids the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic.

If a kid doesn’t have a strong foundation in those three subjects, they will never test successfully.

Learning is done in steps, each step important to master before moving on to the next step.

The NEA and the Dept. of Ed have ruined education in this country. I didn’t home school my children, at least not officially, but they would have never been as successful as they were in school without my supplementing everything at home.

It’s all about the three R,s.

Jvette on April 2, 2013 at 8:28 PM

Pines stand erect.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

as well as a spine

Renee on April 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Tbh, the Asian student usually ranked first, and sometimes by huge margins. Nearly all of the other students were . . . as was my mother. Do you think my mother, an . . . woman was particularly interested in her Asian students over the other students? The reality is, the Asian students came to school with different expectations from home. They were taught to and expected to behave in class, be respectful, do all the work, pay attention, and strive to do well. This is a huge part of the problem with APS. I don’t think school choice is a bad idea, but I don’t think school choice is the solution to the problems with APS.

The Bringer on April 2, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Ah, forget all the parenting and expectations beginning at home junk…just blame the unions, the teachers, the Dumocrats…then all will be well./s

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 2, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Pines stand erect.

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM

…watch out for the sap!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2013 at 9:06 PM

BTW, what other school districts around the country have and are doing the same thing..?

d1carter on April 2, 2013 at 2:07 PM

My guess is ALL of them, to some degree or another!

Marco on April 2, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Columbus, OH, for certain. The city school administration was caught falsifying test results and attendance records to cover up low-performing schools. When the school board was told by a school administrator that she was being ordered to falsify results, she was first put on furlough, then fired.

A state school board investigation showed that the process involved such clever tricks as listing a “D” student as having moved out of the district just before the tests results were to be quantified, only to list them as miraculously back in class after their low scores would no longer show up as a warning sign.

Never mind NCLB. This went on for over twenty years, going back to the Clinton era. Reason? Federal block grants. The better their performance appeared, the more money DoE would send them from Washington. And yes, the lifestyles of the school officials reflected the largesse.

Do a Google search for “Columbus Ohio schools scandal” and be prepared to be amazed- at what they got away with.

clear ether

eon

eon on April 2, 2013 at 9:16 PM

The Cartel

Worth a watch.

Lost in Jersey on April 2, 2013 at 9:18 PM

“Such selfless public servants!”
–Libs

Mr. Prodigy on April 2, 2013 at 9:54 PM

I have a bunch of lady friends who are teachers … smart, honest, responsible teachers. Good teachers.

But make no mistake … they are pretty righteous about what they do and how important they are, and I do not doubt for one second that these lowlife, unionist, Democrat vermin in Atlanta feel exactly the same way.

Jaibones on April 2, 2013 at 10:26 PM

The tests should be under lock and key by the principal and handed out the exact class period that they’re needed.

MelonCollie on April 2, 2013 at 7:58 PM

uh…

One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.

Jaibones on April 2, 2013 at 10:27 PM

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM
as well as a spine

Renee on April 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM

:-)

hawkdriver on April 2, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Probably what the NEA and AFT consider resume enhancements.

viking01 on April 3, 2013 at 1:04 AM

Do away with mandatory school attendance. Problem solved.

Knott Buyinit on April 3, 2013 at 1:14 AM

Of course the weakness in the system was obvious and predictable. The foxes were put in charge of the hen house and their conduct was judged by other foxes–not the hens (or their representatives).

This is what is sometimes known in testing as incest matrixing.All up and down the line the same people conspired to enhance performance appraisals of themselves by falsely enhancing the performance of the students they allegedly taught—data which could easily be challenged in a good teaching system by national examinations where students from, say Atlanta, could be compared to students from dozens of other cities all around the country.

I feel sorry for the students but am delighted to see these fake, phony fraud teachers in handcuffs-and, I fear, this is merely the tip of the iceberg.There should be a new category of rape for this crime–mind rape.

MaiDee on April 3, 2013 at 1:35 AM

They won’t be fired, they’re victims after all. AND… if they are somehow fired they’ll be rehired to some other State job down the line.

Screw up. Move up.

Mojave Mark on April 3, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Perhaps a secondary hiring system might develop in America someday (I won’t say black market because it’s not a blacks only issue) to thwart the absolute power of the leftist educational power structure, which has insured that true education, including critical thinking, not be imbedded in any American youngster and future voter.

Not all educators are leftist, but all in government schools are subject to their control and approval to survive.

It is not without serious political reason the Obama seeks to destroy home education and it isn’t just about paying off his workers of the world union friends, but about insuring the indoctrination of our youth.

Don L on April 3, 2013 at 7:50 AM

Since it is de rigeuer to point out tha the tea party is overwhelmingly white and the NRA is overwhelmingly white, it is necessary to note that the criminals in this case are overwhelmingly black.

Now only a fool would take any meaning of this but since this is the game the left wants to play, suck it!

Lonetown on April 3, 2013 at 8:18 AM

http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=1172

Try this page. What an eye opener!. The jobs and salaries in Atlanta School District.

congma on April 3, 2013 at 11:23 AM

The Federal Government is doing wonders with the education department, huh?

mixplix on April 3, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Of course, the local “activists” here in Atlanta are already crying that these prosecutions are “RACIST!!!”

mojojojo on April 3, 2013 at 12:46 PM

I’ve wondered for years why it is that teachers need to “teach to the test”. Why don’t they try just teaching kids the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic.

To be fair, the tests I’ve seen are decent measures of “the basics.” I have a 4th grader taking the STAAR test this month (TX). Here are the 4th grade math sample questions released last year:

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=2147503438&libID=2147503432
(launches PDF)

Pretty basic stuff, right?

It would seem to me that 4th graders who do well on these problems are probably doing just fine in math, and the ones who aren’t managing to answer these problems correctly, probably need some help.

My worry is not that they’re teaching to the test but that they’re teaching to the test badly. They never seem to get really worried until about the students who are doing poorly until just before test time, when it’s too late for serious remedial work.

BTW the other two TX STAAR tests are writing (actually going on today) and reading. Again, everything I’ve seen says these tests DO test “the basics.” The teachers just aren’t that good at teaching the material IMHO. And my kids go to what is supposed to be a really good Austin public school.

Missy on April 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM

As far as my comments on “teaching the test” I’m not talking about literally teaching the contents of the official exam.
My daughter spends days, weeks learning “skills” used to take this particular brand of standardized test. Students reading a passage have to circle this, underline that, point to X with their finger, tap Y three times with their thuumb (I’m serious – it’s this ludicrous). Much like there’s certain strategies they teach to improve SAT scores, elementary kids are being taught test-taking strategies – at the expense of learning the actual 3 r’s.

The solution then, would seemingly be to keep changin formats, right?

However, I got to see the last few years just how much is involved in creating a new test format. It isn’t something that can be done every year, even every couple of years without MAJOR effort. We were testing college students on the high school exams just so we could determine what should be considered passing…

Madness.

We’ve made a test – which should be the MEASURE of the education received – the FOCUS of the eduction being received. All we’re teaching kids is how to take a single exam – good luck in life with that knowledge.

That might explain why so few students test as “college ready” nowadays

WhaleBellied on April 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM

The indicted ‘educators’ appear to know the hand they were dealt according to the harsh reality of the Bell Curve. The search for Superman continues.

el Vaquero on April 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

WhaleBellied on April 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Gotcha. I understand what you meant now – thanks for the clarification. And I agree. Teaching strategies should never substitute for teaching content.

However, absent testing providing some kind of accountability, I think a great number of teachers would do their jobs even more poorly than they do them now. It’s not entirely their fault; they’re products of the ed schools. GIGO.

Missy on April 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

The indicted ‘educators’ appear to know the hand they were dealt according to the harsh reality of the Bell Curve. The search for Superman continues.

el Vaquero on April 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

The massive drain of resources by liberal denialists and well-meaning fools to try and circumvent certain realities will hopefully be the subject of much interest by historians in the future.

And I say ‘hopefully’ because it should never be repeated.

MelonCollie on April 3, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Jaibones on April 2, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Goddamit. If that’s the case these things should either be distributed by someone besides school personnel or abandoned.

MelonCollie on April 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM

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