The APS cheating scandal made national headlines back in July and tonight it’s back in the national spotlight when NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams investigates the scandal that is still a sore subject with parents in Atlanta.
Below is the preview message, as posted today on NBC’s Media Village website…
When scores on standardized tests went up year after year in Atlanta public schools, system chief Dr. Beverly Hall got much of the credit. But this past July, investigators appointed by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, issued the results of a 10-month probe into alleged test tampering that unveiled the largest cheating scandal ever in American schools. It wasn’t students who were doing the cheating…it was teachers and administrators! Harry Smith reports.
Georgia state investigators reported last July that Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall created an environment that encouraged teachers to change test scores. Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on student’s answer sheets, sometimes at “answer changing parties.” An extensive report stated that area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible. Superintendant Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, and claimed ignorance of wrongdoing.
For years – as long as a decade – this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to Gov. Nathan Deal’s investigation.
In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical – and potentially illegal – behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.
The voluminous report named 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.
In her first TV interview, Beverly Hall defends her position tonight on Rock Center with Brian Williams. She responds to the allegations by saying, “I can’t imagine where the fear and intimidation came from. It certainly did not come from the top. I just can’t see where adults would be able to use that as an excuse.” Dr. Hall says there were measurable improvements under her leadership. “I accept the responsibility for not anticipating that we needed more security and more protocols…but ultimately, the person who cheated is the person who is responsible for their actions.” She adds, “I hope that if I were to do this again that I would learn from this that I have to anticipate that people will be devious.”
Beverly Hall left the Atlanta Public School system in June and her successor, Erroll Davis, has taken steps to safeguard test answer sheets and change the culture in the school system. But those who stand accused now face the scrutiny of a grand jury investigation, revocation of their teaching licenses, and some may even face criminal charges. The scandal may end up costing Atlanta millions of dollars. More importantly, it shortchanged children in Atlanta – all at the cost of an inflated ego.
To watch the Beverly Hall interview on Rock Center with Brian Williams, tune into NBC tonight at 10:00 p.m.
Note from Editor: While the APS schools represent only a small portion of public schools in the city, parents in Atlanta remain outraged that this was able to happen in OUR area schools. Many feel that Beverly Hall was the person responsible for the cheating scandal and wish to see her prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In the meantime, churches and volunteers are stepping up to tutor some of the schoolchildren who were hurt by the cheating scandal. It goes to show that education was, is, and always be a critical issue for parents in Atlanta.
Sources: AJC/NBC Media Village
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