Teachers Get Caught Cheating in Atlanta

An investigation team that was created by the Georgia governor released a report Tuesday that unearthed a wide spread cheating scandal in the Atlanta public school system.

The report found 44 of 58 investigated public schools were involved in systematic cheating. This report is based on a year-long investigation.

At least 178 teachers and administrators are being investigated for voluntarily and knowingly involving themselves in the rampant cheating scheme. These adults allegedly aided students during the state’s standardized test, the Criterion-Reference Competency Test, as well as corrected students’ answers once the tests had been turned in. The report detailed that 82 administrators and teachers confessed to the cheating allegations.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told Time Magazine that the yearlong investigation "confirms our worst fears ... There is no doubt that systemic cheating occurred on a widespread basis in the school system. Further, there is no question that a complete failure of leadership in the Atlanta Public School system hurt thousands of children who were promoted to the next grade without meeting basic academic standards."

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), the first paper to reveal cheating in Atlanta schools more than a year ago, this investigation into a public school district regarding test-cheating is arguably the most wide-ranging investigation ever conducted in U.S. history. The report consists of more than 800,000 documents.

The AJC reports that the cheating was allowed to go on for so long because of an elaborate effort to keep the scandal a secret. Whistle-blowers were reportedly silenced and reprimanded and superintendents “rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.”

Teachers have reported an environment of fear that kept them from outing the cheaters. For example, according to the AJC, one school principal, Gwendolyn Benton, obstructed the investigation when she threatened teachers by saying she would “sue them out the ass” if they “slandered” her to investigators.
Each year, the school district is required to pass its standardized test scores on to the state and pledge that they are accurate.

Giving an official false report is a felony.

The report claims that the reason the cheating flourished in Atlanta is because school administrators were desperate to reach “unrealistic” test-score goals. For example, under No Child Left Behind teachers are susceptible to salary cuts or job loss if their test scores do not meet a specific standard.

The cheating hurt struggling students who did not get the extra help they needed and would have gotten if their accurate scores had been reported.

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