Ex-Schools Chief in Atlanta Is Indicted in Testing Scandal

A third-grade teacher’s 2010 choice to aid a state investigator helped lead to the indictment Friday of a former superintendent and 34 others in a vast alleged cheating scheme.

Comments: 270

  1. The Times article fails, when citing other examples, to note the investigation in Ohio by state and FBI officials of altering enrollment and attendance records to manipulate school test results (unenrolled students scores didn't count!). It illustrates the inventive and deep seated ways officials are gaming the system, by manipulating changes in part that effect outcomes in other areas, all for the sake of improved test scores. See [http://www.dispatch.com/content/topic/special-reports/2012/counting-kids...].

  2. Walter - Do you really think teachers should be held responsible for students who don't come to school? I taught in a suburb of Toledo. I had mostly very engaged, hard-working students who had great success in high school and their ensuing years in college and beyond. But when I had students who missed significant days of school, whether because of chronic health problems or because their parents did not force them to come, made excuses for their absence, or simply couldn't be bothered, the results were terrible. Many of the kids in big city systems in Ohio lead such desperate lives that school attendance is haphazard at best. My heart goes out to them, but if they don't come to school, you can't teach them. There are teachers in those systems who are excellent, care deeply, and do the best they can when the students are there. But they should not be penalized for students who miss more than a few days per term. And that was just the situation you described.

  3. NYT also ought to look at her doctoral dissertation, too. Just as a matter of course.

    Vouchers. Today. Free the children, they deserve better.

  4. Kathie, are you sure you understand what Walter means? I'd guess that altering enrollment records means pretending that low-performing students aren't in school at all; thus they sit in class, but don't appear in the statistics.
    Walter, I think you mean "affect."
    E.T., I think vouchers are usually a ploy to cut funding for public schools, part of a huge campaign to privatize just about everything.

  5. I.m shocked...absolutely shocked. Cheating, manipulation of testing and data in order to reach No Child Left Behind standards, really? First in Houston, the birthplace of NCLB, now in Atlanta, next in Washington DC, and ultimately in New York City, the "reform movement" is proving to be nothing more than a smoke screen for those who wish to destroy public education in this country. The "standards" the incessant testing was supposed to produce have been "dummied down" to the point where they are meaningless for gauging the true progress of a child. And, as a recent NYT article revealed, the charter movement has never produced the results they were guaranteeing, but they sure are making the CEO's of those schools rich.

  6. Perhaps there's a bigger picture. Could it be that in the long run an uneducated, "dumbed-down" populace is the aim of the Corporations that run this country? (No, I'm not talking about those we voted in to run it—I'm talking about their handlers). Keeping people fat, dumb and desperate is a great way to ensure lots of cannon and factory fodder.

  7. J, the working class knows that education unions have totally debased "grading." As in, serious correlation problems between "grades" and rigorous exams (SAT, ACT).

    Only "grades" that anyone with a brain would accept would be on rigorous exams like SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT. And face-to-face interviews.

    And politicians ought to be mandated to release their academic records and paperwork. Full disclosure -- no bull-droppings.

    Vouchers today -- save the USA.

  8. The charter schools are a mixed bag, as you would expect from experiments. Some, such as KIPP, have yielded tremendous gains. Others have performed less well.

    The purpose of experiments is to find out what works, and then see if the success can be replicated.

    Let the charter schools movement continue.

  9. And these are the ones that got caught. Other districts as well cheat as the only way to survive the emphasis on testing. Teaching in any way is not allowed anymore, though. Teachers that do their job and teach students eventually resign or lose their jobs because of parents that complain when teachers expect students to do their work. It's worse when teachers have to follow the discipline process required by the school to be able to keep the disruptive students who prevent most of the students that do want to work. Then parents complain and administrators support them for fear of lawsuits even when teachers are following due process. Hence, the decline of education in the United States that ranks very low against other first world countries.

    I can think of one example in which a school with mostly non-English speakers and special education students had higher scores in just one year that removed the school from Title 1 status. It was not in Atlanta.

  10. What a sorry state our education system is in. Educators used to be looked up to but not any more.
    How sad when administrators and teachers cheat. What a message that's sending to our children. Cheat to get ahead but in the long run you will be caught and punished.

  11. The kids are getting exactly the same message everyday in the media. Wall Street wheeler-dealers, incompetent CEO's and dirty politicians escape scot-free in one shocking scandal after another. Only the little guy gets "caught and punished". What a sorry state this society is in!!!

  12. Alansky, What you say is true but wouldn't it be wonderful if the schools would teach a child to be honest and truthful? It starts at the home but the schools should re-enforce that standard. Evidently I'm from the old school where cheating was really looked down on. Not only by the teacher, who flunked the cheater, but by most of the other students.

  13. Unfortunately, honesty is not one of the areas tested (and therefore important) under No Child Left Behind or its mutant offspring, Race to the Top.

  14. The US education system is broken, no accountability to show real results and the unions and admin always think the solution is more money . The answer is more teachers that care and families that teach respect so the teachers can do their job.
    Ban personal electronics on school property and demand good citizenship in the classroom,and hold the parents accountable as well.

  15. More teachers who care? How is that going to happen when funding for education is being slashed and the system makes it almost impossible to fire incompetent teachers???

  16. I agree with everything here except banning personal electronics on campus. While parents are teaching their kids about respect they can also teach them about appropriate use of technology. Personal electronics can be of extreme utility not least of which is persistent connection to the wealth of knowledge available online.

  17. Amen on the ban.

  18. We incentivize school administrators to game the system, then throw the book at them when they do so. We incentivize Wall Street to game the system, and most will get away with early retirements and massive wealth. Likewise with the military-industrial complex. America!

    Of course, the education gets close scrutiny while financiers/bankers and military procurement gets little.

    Not excusing malfeasance, but what did people expect from the testing craze? You need layers of checks and balances to make it work well. First and foremost would be those standing to benefit have absolutely zero opportunity to influence the outcome.

    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

  19. I couldn't agree more. If, somehow, you could wave a magic wand and identify all the skimming, scamming, graft and corruption that's afoot in this country, it would make what goes on in Afghanistan look like a low level game of Bunko.

  20. Do you think there might be a role for things such as personal responsibility, ethical behavior, and decency?

  21. "Those standing to benefit have absolutely zero opportunity to influence the outcome." Do you mean teachers? Are you serious?

  22. Might this signal the beginning of the end of the tyranny of "standardized" testing?

  23. Just the opposite. The appearance of a test security company on the scene indicates that testing is being taken more seriously.

  24. It would be better if this signaled the end of unionized teachers. They are the ones, along with their supervisors, who demonstrated a complete lack of ethical standards.

    It takes real jerks to believe that, just because you don't like a requirement, you have a right to cheat.

  25. And this is a surprise to who?

  26. What a surprise that high stakes testing encourages cheating...

    As much as I would like this to end the ridiculous--and counterproductive--emphasis on standardized testing, the only thing that I think will finally sound its death knell is an expose on how much money is spent by states on these tests. If all that money that the testing companies made were turned back into education, there would be more than enough to pay teachers well, buy up-to-date textbooks, and repaid crumbling schools.

  27. Please suggest an alternative to standardized testing that can be used with all students.

  28. Betcha those testing companies wouldn't like it! They might turn into pretty effective (and well paid) lobbyists.

  29. Amen, sister.

  30. "Teachers operated under a “culture of fear” that pressured them to cheat to improve test scores or face punishment from supervisors, the report said."

    This says a lot about the pressure teachers and administrators are feeling. Cheating is never right, but often unrealistic demands and potentially harsh penalties are being placed on schools that are often underfunded and exist in challenging societal environments.

  31. "Challenging societal environments??

    So are you suggesting that we should end the pretense that the products of these environments are uneducable?....that it is "unrealistic" to expect otherwise??

  32. Schools went from the bottom levels to the top levels in a single year? If we can't hire quality teachers can't we at least hire quality cheaters?

  33. Let's hope no one believes this is an isolated incident! Small communities have such issues not to mention accounting for fiscal resources; same for rural schools.

    Recently, a mid-size community public school system confronted a significant change for a specific junior high facility. Ths school promoted the change as a "repurposing!" Whatever that is.

  34. What of a surprise! This is the mentality and morality of the people involved in teaching our kids---and i doubt if this is a singular incident.The thing that amazes me is that , once again, the people running the system think they are so much smarter than everyone else because they managed to get thru a 3rd rate college, get a paper phd on the weekends and are called "doctor"....as an aside my son-in-law spent 6 years of 60 hr weeks getting a phd in cell biology and said the only time he would call himself doctor was when he was dealing with his children's educators--- I will bet you a dime to a dollar that at certain stages of this farce the students themselves knew what was happening...

  35. What seems to be working well in the land of the free and home of the brave? Check all that apply.
    Public Education
    Health Care
    Congress
    Social Security-Medicare
    Prison and Rehabilitation
    War on Drugs
    War on Poverty
    War in Afghanistan

  36. Point well taken. But I think Social Security is not working so badly. Medicare could be worse, too.

  37. Here is a message for those who want schools, instead of or with, parents to raise children. Parents have the primary responsibilty to instill proper values in children. Society comes next, and schools distant third. if parents, especially single and poor, want government to do their job they shouldn't expect good results. All the recent mismanagement and scandals put school administrators and teachers at par with politicians.

  38. This situation is a sad commentary on American education in many, many ways. I do not discount the presence of many sincere and committed people, but for the most part it is the sorriest segment of public leadership in this country.

    Overall, public policy and public management have been professionalized across the board (for good and ill), but those who lead educational institutions are very, very rarely trained effectively as public managers.

    School managers and administrators are rarely there because they are effective as managers, or because they built a career path to management; rather, moves into these positions are afterthoughts when the classroom is no longer appealing for one reason or another. (Anybody heard of any junior management training programs in education, skipping the classroom? Didn't think so.) Therefore, they take management positions without the kind of rigorous training afforded by an MBA or an MPA in other sectors. Generally speaking, these managers know finance, and they know school law, but practical ethics, personnel relations and effective leadership fall by the wayside.

    Rarely do we discuss this management vacuum, but it's part of the reason the schools suffer so. Heaven help the next generation.

  39. Mainer might be right that most school administrators are not well trained -- but what's that got to do with cheating? In my (very extensive) experience, well-educated, well-trained people are no more ethical than anyone else. An MBA is not a Certificate of Probity.

  40. And heaven help us because it will be the next generation that has an impact on how values are prioritized, how monies are spent, how our healthcare will be handled, how the planet might be saved from global warming, how nuclear threat will be dealt with, how the economy will fare, how we will he dealt with as aged citizens and whether or not we are, as a nation and as a species, going to move towards preservation or destruction.

  41. My take on the MBA may be somewhat biased, but I see an emphasis on short-term success, quick fixes, the bottom line, and very little thought about the effect decisions made today will have in ten or twenty years. That's antithetical to what is needed in education.

  42. Basing public school teacher and administrator salaries and employment on high stakes student testing results is just another point of attack that republicans are using to dismantle public education and privatize public schools so that their corporate paymasters can leech off of the government in the charter school business. Jeb Bush anyone?

    The article states: "Atlanta is hardly the only school district to grapple with a widespread cheating scandal." NO KIDDING? This was no less foreseeable than a bank telling a mortgage applicants that they can buy houses - that the bank knows the buyers cannot afford - by offering "no income verification" loans, and then, after selling the loans to FNMA and collecting a nice fee, waiting for the mortgage loans to go in to default.

  43. When we place such emphasis on test scores to the exclusion of real learning, this is one of the sad consequences. Pity the poor students who spent time taking phonied-up tests instead of receiving real instruction.

  44. The sad consequences are teachers will steal money from taxpayers by cheating? Where is the connection?

  45. I taught in ATL. When out of town guests came, we would sometimes watch the televised meetings of the school board for entertainment. Sorry folks, but people who have never taught shouldn't be on the school board. People with the equivalent of a 3rd grade education should definitely not be on the school board. People with a racial axe to grind should most definitely not be on the school board. We had them all.

  46. I've lived in Atlanta for the better part of 15 yrs. You are right on the money regarding the incompetence of the school boards not just in Fulton (Atlanta) but in the adjacent counties. NY Times can have a field day with covering the other counties that have lost/will be losing their accreditation. Those kids' diplomas will be a piece of worthless paper. And this all coming from a major U.S. metropolitan area with over 13 universities. Shameful!

  47. Exactly. Their main concern is not education, but balancing budgets. The same is happening in universities with administrators whose only concern is making a profit and increasing their own salaries.

  48. There were so many incentives to cheat, and at the time, they were able to, so they did.

  49. Since any teacher with even modest experience knows that you can't really show marked improvement in just one year in the students who are most limited and challenged, threatening to negatively impact teachers whose students do not show improvement in the short term, or dangling pay incentives that appeal to the venal, is not the best way to improve things. More programs at lower levels and in poor communities where the most severe deficits are found should be effective, but they are the exact kinds of programs that Republicans want to cut when they talk about trimming the budget. Until everyone in a state, in this country, recognizes that giving a high quality education to every child--not just to those who are already privileged by birth into a higher socio-economic class, we will continue to see an underclass that is more likely to be unprepared to handle any but the most menial of jobs, and to inordinately populate our prisons. It is a fundamental moral issue but who addresses it as such?

  50. Exactly, Mr. Granzyk - it is fundamentally moral - it's a war on the poor. We have 25% of the world's prison population for a reason!

  51. I'm an English teacher at a public high school in NYC, and based on my few years of teaching, I'd say that these are isolated events. At my school, which received an A grade last year and whose median SAT score is about 650- yes (without the writing part), cheating is rather uncommon: copying homework, on quizzes/tests (maybe 20% of students do it regularly). I blame both some teachers, who are lax when it comes to ensuring students don't cheat and some students, who see cheating as "normal." As for the major standardized tests like the Regents and future PARCC, some teachers do not proctor the exams appropriately such that some students (esp. weaker ones) cheat a good deal. Students can choose where they wish to sit, and sit less than a yard away from another student. Teachers are not allowed to proctor their own exam, but I believe an unspoken "code" is that lax proctoring of Regents exams leads to better results for the school, which in turn means that teachers appear to be doing a good job, when in fact they aren't. I suspect that more brazen forms of cheating as those mentioned in this article are quite rare, and the NYC Dept of Ed is taking steps to limit such forms of cheating: this is the first year that Regents exams are graded out of house (by teachers in another school)-a wise decision. Soon, computer-based exams will become the norm. If done right, students will not be able to cheat as easily since the questions can be jumbled. We need more oversight & writing.

  52. 20% regularly cheating seems pretty high to me, not isolated.

  53. Did you even read the article? Its teachers cheating. Its administrators cheating, not students and they are cheating because of fear and pressure to show results on test, results that can be unrealistic in some schools.

  54. This is like predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    The education world is filled with mediocre people who realized that the jig was up on their long running scam to just get more and more money with no demonstrable results.

    Well, of course they had to phony up the results to keep getting the bucks. The lowest quartile of college grads wind up teaching and their compensation and benefits are so good compared to what these people could earn in the real world that they have to protect their featherbed by any means necessary.

    There will always be the excuses from these fat cat teachers that "the kids' environments prevent them from learning." It's one of the Big Lies in America.

    Unfortunately the teachers unions are strong and its members have the free time to man phone banks at election time. So politicians are beholden to them, not to the kids.

    It will never get better--they will thwart any attempts to make them perform.

  55. Forgive me, Chris - New York, but you have clearly never taught in a classroom. Teachers work their hearts out against long odds. The politicians denigrate them for political gain, during budget time the media and many in the public lambaste them for wanting health insurance, a meager pension, and a salary that matches their educational degree and skills, and the state and federal government allows people with no background in teaching to dictate how and what they teach. It's a thankless job, one in which the pressure continues to increase. You have no idea. I do.

  56. Forgive me, Larry, but Chris is correct. The average teacher graduates in the bottom quartile of his/her college class. Those with dedication are to be commended, but it takes competence as well as motivation to succeed.

  57. Larry--wrong. I have 3 permanent certifications, was tenured in a major NY city, was selected to train my peers, but walked away in disgust at the low caliber of my colleagues. Schools exist for the benefit of teachers, their all-powerful union--not for kids. Especially not for poor urban kids.

  58. Principals and teachers that cheat should be punished and barred from careers in education. The ones that we should really worry about are the attempted whistleblowers. They would be fine principals!

    I am also curious that no photo of the accused is presented. Why not?

  59. You can see the photos of the accused on the Atlanta paper's website if you're curious.

  60. Talk about a situation where nobody wins. Goodness knows none of this improves the lot of a single student in our public schools.

    It reminds me a bit of all those cases being brought against suspected terrorists - the perp may have been a bad guy, it's true, but nonetheless, the government still supplied the motive, means, and opportunity.

  61. I retired from teaching after an illustrious(kidding of course) 25 year career as a high school math teacher. Pretty much from the git go I argued with administrators, school board members, union reps and newspaper editorialist that this would be the outcome. So what happens now? We move on to the RTTT which has its own polluted metrics; with grifters, gophers, gaffers, grips and fluff girls of every strip hanging on and bleeding the system. The people that get screwed are the rank and file teachers, like myself, who schlep in every day doing their jobs, having an impact that is never recognized because the payout comes years later. One of my favorite attention grabbers at public meetings was to compare us to the police. The police in my former city would cry poor and then warn of the mayhem if they were not paid more. I always liked to frame the argument thusly: before any serious hood sees the street they walk through the classroom first. Each one of them has 25 friends. But somehow we turn those 25 friends from the dark side, and they become solid citizens. Yes we fail a certain percent. But what we leave behind for the police to clean up is a small percentage of the population. So my point, the teaching profession is really the first line of defense against anarchy in this society. Yet we pay them and treat them like chattel. I am on to a new career. I will never go back. But coming up with some private sector privatization scheme or bonus system will not work.

  62. Excellent analogy. Such a shame you left teaching. You're exactly the kind of teacher we need!

  63. So 6% of teachers in this district were cheating, okay. Most were dismissed or resigned. How is this a culture of cheating?

    There are a host of reasons why to move away from standardized testing, not least of which is the data shows they aren't effective, but cheating isn't. Especially when its limited to 6%, even if you doubled it (assuming they only caught half the cheaters) to 12% i think you have a hard time arguing that that constitutes a culture of cheating.

    This piece seems like a great example of Chomski's "manufactured consent" in regards to voucherized privatized education.

  64. Six percent were caught.

    Proving someone cheats has a high bar. They have to have enough evidence to indicate that the improvement was so unlikely due to random events that it is overwhelming.

  65. Some making comments here want to bury their heads and place the blame on standardized testing rather than the perpetrators of the crimes. That's horrific to me. I think Fordham should retract "Dr." Beverly L. Hall's doctorate and investigate how she was ever admitted into its program. "Hailed as National Superintendent of the Year in 2009," how did that happen? Another case of affirmative action gone wrong and doing more harm than good?

  66. Not only cheating, but dumb, dumb cheating! They might have believed a moderate rise in test scores, but this? This shows that these teachers and administrators have no idea how the world works, and can't predict the obvious consequences of their own actions.

  67. Well, people believed Bernie Madoff too. The lesson here is that people fell to optimism bias - they will believe in good news even when those are too good to be true.

  68. The principal at the local public school was very open about this - he claimed that what the teachers were doing was completely filling in all the "bubbles" and just by doing that little thing he got test scores greatly improved. I thought this was outrageous. I have since spent enormously on private school tuition, money well spent, although it pains me to add it up.

  69. The school system is "ate up with the stupid" starting from the top down. Any intelligent cheater would ensure that the results of cheating would not be so obvious as to invite suspicion. We need to hire intelligent, honest educators to run the system; the stupid, venal ones expose our educational system for what it is: a failure.

  70. We have a socio-economic society currently and increasingly over the last several decades where there is a desperation for income that dwarfs preceding decades and certainly my parents' generation.

    We see it in all walks of life; from Wall Street, to main street to the churches. Some of it is greed but much of it is some degree of desperation. That is the economic side of it. The social side, and cause, is that so many of us are disconnected from any sort of inclusive culture where we can thrive as people among people where we relate and aspire to please and instead find ourselves to be isolated except for a few friends and family in the same situation. (Even many of the wealthy seem to be in some sort of a downward spiral as evidenced by their blatant crimes, suicides and melt-downs.) We have to buy our self esteem and most of us cannot afford what that requires in the absence of a village to belong to.

    These people in the ranks of education are no different than the rest of what I see out there in my endeavors.

  71. Great comment John well thought out. The pursuit of the almighty dollar permeates everything and everyone around us. Our lives and value to society should not be based on our financial worth but rather our contributions to society. The media seems to perpetuate the material world. I especially like your comment "These people in the ranks of education are no different than the rest of what I see" Indeed we all seem to be caught up in this keeping up with the Jones lifestyle. I think we all need to be very careful to remember "First remove the beam out of your own eye,and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye."

  72. You nailed it, Mr. Ehrhart: "We have to buy our self esteem and most of us cannot afford what that requires in the absence of a village to belong to."

  73. While I admire those that give much to society (teachers, police, fireman, social workers, etc.), we must remember that these services must be paid for.

    Therefore we require successful people to pay taxes for these services.

  74. This is the inevitable result of the way so many have pushed the idea that "accountability" means rating teachers, Principals and schools on student test scores. Let's make it very clear. These tests were never meant to grade teachers. They were never meant to grade Principals. They were never meant to grade schools. But when you put pressure on Principals that there will be consequences like losing your job or not getting a bonus if scores don't reach a certain level, the Principals will pass the message onto the teachers. And then they will all turn their backs on what teachers do to boost scores. And I am not referring to the occasional give the student the benefit of the doubt in marginal cases where two completely honest people can read the same student response on a free response question and reach slightly different conclusions as to the student's score on that particular question.

    People such as Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein and now John King in New York actually think results on these exams mean something. And the public eats it up in their never ending quest to blame the professional educators for all the ills of students who come to school not willing to do any work or take school seriously.

    But as long as we have this appetite for things like merit pay or the opposite, rating teachers on the basis of any of these exams, we will continue to fail in our responsibilities to our students.

  75. Accountability programs like No Child Left Behind have failed miserably because nobody knows how to improve student learning to the extent that such program expect. For example, nobody really knows how to remove the relationship between income and achievement. Is it surprising that teachers and administrators cheat when they are rewarded and punished but are unable to make the expected gains?

  76. If you really want to help low income students do the following:

    a) Open schools from 6 AM to 8 PM. Provide Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    as needed.

    b) Provide Teaching Assistants who are just out of College and who have
    the energy and idealism to help all and any underachieving student.

    c) Give the student's longer recesses to burn off excess energy.

    d) Group the students in classes not by age but by maturity and ability.

    e) Hold students strictly responsible for the work they do and do not do.
    If they need study halls after school to finish their work then provide
    them tutors and time to finish their work.

    f) Instead of waiting until students are 18 to introduce them to the harsh
    but simple reality of life - those who work harder, more efficiently and
    to a better degree get most of the rewards in life. So if you do your
    classwork, do your homework, respond responsibly in class you get
    rewarded, if you do not or will not - you get fewer rewards - not to
    punish you - but to inform you want you will face in life.

    g) Stop expecting teachers to be miracle workers - parents have far
    more influence in how their children do in school - time to hold
    them responsible.

  77. Skanik - Guess you must be a teacher, union official or education professor since your list of things to do contains not one measurement of a teacher's performance or remedy for a failure to perform.

  78. Skanik I know you mean well but I couldnt agree less. For younger students, school days should be 4 hours and no longer and it should be nothing but math, reading, and writing in groups of 20. In other words teach the really important stuff. No extended gym class and lots of food periods as you suggest. As the students get older, introduce science (with emphasis on math) and history (with emphasis on reading and writing). Assign homework for afterschool.

    Keep the school days short, and certainly dont make them longer.

    To me what you describe sounds like a juvie detention school/juvie prison.

  79. I am honestly interested in knowing how the Teachers Union and their liberal allies would view this. If they can come up with a convincing case against this and other such practices in the public schools, I am willing to give up my current thinking on why charter schools might be good.

  80. Charter schools are a horrible idea. They raise the stakes even further on having the best test scores. Now is it not only a bonus that is on the line - but your job. Personally I think that paying and respecting teachers more is the cheapest, easiest way to fix this whole mess. If teaching jobs become competitive than it stands to reason that within a few years we will have better and better teachers in place.

    I have seen enough of my friends either leave teaching or not go into teaching because the politics and the pay are too crazy. Look at what's going on - would you want to work in this environment?

    Or we could keep spending millions cleaning up messes like this.

  81. I am not a teacher, but I am liberal, and I am disgusted by it. The Truly Competent do not have to resort to this lapse in ethics to achieve.

  82. What teachers union? This is Georgia.

  83. How about an emphasis on critical thinking instead of memorization and then regurgitation of "facts". We need critical thinkers for our future, not people who can memorize information to pass a test and then promptly forget it all. Get rid of the standardized tests NOW.

  84. Margaret,

    If the students don't have the Basic Skills how are their Critical Thinking

    Skills ever going to develop ?

    Not to mention, how many jobs actually want their employees

    'Critical Thinking' input ?

  85. You cannot think critically if you don't know some facts. Besides, to a large number of teachers, especially at the college level, "critical thinking" means presenting a leftist criticism of the status quo. Freshman writing courses tend to go this political route under the banner of "critical thinking."

  86. Unfortunately, memory is part of the learning process.You cannot use critical thinking if you don't remember grammar rules, vocabulary, math rules, etc. Learning is not just about memory but it is an integral part. That's the problem with education these days: it tries to undermine the value of memory. Therefore, students cannot multiply if they don't have a calculator.

  87. This is a sorrowfully predictable outcome of the No Child Left Behind program. It would be great if The Times could look into the actual and overall costs of this program, its emphasis on testing with punishment and school closures and labeling schools in poor neighborhoods as "failures." The resulting outcome of public support for school vouchers, charter schools and private academies for folks with money has caused a destruction of the public school system which is so critical in a democracy.

  88. Follow the money.

  89. How did the chief educational administrator in Atlanta not recognize how ridiculous the numbers were? " The odds of such an improvement were less than one in a billion". Not to condone cheating... but what an idiot. I think I'll go counterfeit some 1,000,000 bills. Who will notice?

  90. The Atlanta cheating scandal is the dip of the iceberg of test score manipulation caused by politicians' fixation on boosting standardized exam results by hook or by crook. See the survey, issued yesterday, demonstrating that cheating incidents have been confirmed in 37 states and D.C.
    http://fairtest.org/2013-Cheating-Report-PressRelease

  91. Take the obsession out of testing, ranking. Make learning a cooperative affair rather than competitive. There will be dramatic change in education.

    Many colleges climb the ranking game by inflating their SAT scores. As long as we look at education as a game to winning position, power and status, this madness will continue. There are many around the world happy to play this game and are quite good at it too.

  92. "Make learning a cooperative affair rather than competitive." Very encouraging perhaps we need to approach many things in our life this way .

  93. These are serial administrative cheaters---they move around the country in various "public education capacities" with darned little success --except their own-- to show for their works...

    This is what's wrong with Urban Public School systems..lots of self-congratulatory pomp and pageantry---few true leaders of quality and integrity, therefore they are incapable of extending any wisdom of leadership unto teachers, nevermind serve as decent role models to students. This "class" of educator spends much more time competing for their own "educational achievements--the most desirable ones with cash or other financial or "status" rewards attached....junkola like, "Superintendent of the 21st Century" or "Outstanding Administrator of the Decade" or "Best Child Leader, 2010" or "Think to the Top" --or, my least favorite educational initiative, but related to public schools, a campaign called, "From Cradle to Jail"--that's that actual and chilling title.... Headed by a well-heeled offspring of truly important civil rights couple... now these campaigns seem to be about nepotism--not about the very people they are supposed to serve...

    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/04/22/former-aps-chief-bever...

  94. There also seems to be a sector of our culture that simply doesn't define cheating the way others do. They manage to justify their behavior such that everyone else does it, and in order to level the playing field, this is OK. They massage the truth to the point where in their world this is not criminal behavior. They have worked hard and deserve to get ahead by any means possible. It's all reduced to a game. Not just teachers from lower socio-economic classes but also bankers and wall streeters.

  95. This is probably more widespread than we know. Whenever there is such pressure placed on children doing well on these tests and the present teaching practices of only teaching what is going to be on these exams there are going to be problems. Add in the financial rewards you have a recipe for disaster as far as our children go.
    If school districts decide to retain or fire teachers based on how well the students do on these tests we will see a great deal more cheating going on.

  96. These teachers et. al. were awarded other people's bonuses. Will that be rectified?

  97. Public education will not be succesful until it is fully supported by an invovled community (which does not mean parents using their influence to challenge all school policies, etc.). This requires an ongoing conversation between the school system and the community to reach understandings that will benefit the students.'
    Easy to say and hard to do? It is, but it can be done. The problems with standardized testing have already been articulated. However, there was a time when they served a purpose by providing one indicator of students' academic capabilities. Reforming our educational systems is critical if our nation is to prosper.
    But allowing the politicans to direct and manage it is clearly detrimental.

  98. has anybody followed any of the students who were "taught' by those teachers now accused of cheating? How are they doing 5 to 10 years later? where are they? working at the golden arches or attending some sort of higher education? will they be suing their former school teachers for negligence?
    oh ... the consequences!

  99. Check with the warden, to find out how these students are doing.

  100. My first reaction on reading the article was to feel dismay and sorrow for all the kids who were "cheated" out of an adequate education.
    What about them?

  101. This is the wholly predictable result of paying bonuses for test scores. It corrupts the entire system of education.

    Education is collaborative, not competitive, and cheating is all you will get with these crazy notions of paying for test results.

  102. Why on earth did the reporter include the Great Neck event? That was a dozen or so kids, not a systemic abuse of teachers and administrators.

  103. Maybe it's me, but I don't see a mention of the Great Neck event. At any rate, the impetus for the superintendent and the Great Neck students are the same - pressure to succeed. That's what happens when education becomes an endeavor to create good competitors who view education in terms of money and/or fame, rather than life-long learners who value education for its own sake. It's what happens when we teach our children they only have value as a score on a paper, and nothing beyond that. We're reaping what we've sown...

  104. Get rid of the testing! I am in an urban school district where the test is a mania-teachers must teach like the test, practice the test, talk the test. block out any words on walls or hallways days before the test, cover all books or possible distractions, rally for the test, have almost lock downs for the practice tests, whisper during practice, pay substitute teachers while they practice with small groups, and then take the test. And the results are still poor. It is a waste of time and money and does not promote learning.

  105. Teachers pay other people to take their tests because they know they can't pass them. They never should have been teachers in the first place. They got their degree because their teachers were reluctant, even afraid, to flunk them -- especially if they were members of a sacralized victim group. No one likes being called names.

    The social pressure to help people on to a career in teaching is enormously strong, and social consequences for keeping them from that can be even stronger. If you want trouble, flunk 10% or more of the students in an education class required for a degree.. The fact that some people take tests for others is not nearly as important an issue as that there is a market for their services.

  106. Atlanta should hire the former Toronto school's chief Chris Spence who was fired for plagiarism.

  107. During many of her years as Atlanta School Superintendent, Beverly Hall made more than the President of the United States.

  108. As do many university presidents.

  109. What is the standard for the indictment of Atlanta's Dr. Hall? Promoting a culture of cheating? Looking the other way? That seems to be what the article is saying.

    Well this is what education-reform darling Michelle Rhee was covering up during the same period:

    "In 2008, in an evaluation done on request of the State Superintendent of Education, McGraw-Hill flagged 96 schools—including 8 of the 10 that had received TEAM awards from Rhee—for wrong-to-right erasures.[39] According to a USA Today report published in 2011, more than 50% of D.C.'s public schools—a total of 103—had surpassed the average rate of erasures at least once since 2008. Such erasures may be indicative of cheating - with wrong answers changed to right - or may have innocent causes, such as student inadvertently skipping a question and erasing all subsequent answers to correct for that or being encouraged to review his or her work."

    Dr. Hall gets $7.5 million dollar bail and Michelle Rhee goes on Oprah.

    To quote akcoyote: "and this is a surprise to who?" (sic)

  110. That's why they drug the kids with methylphenidates - so they'll sit down and be quiet. Why can't we just have a simple, fun education? Get rid of this system!

  111. I think we need a system that works best for the kids. I want to see studies on the effectiveness of your proposed system before I support it. I am not saying that you are wrong mind you, just that I want to know that are replacing the system with a better one before I will stand behind it.

  112. Total reform is the only answer for the students, but the bureaucracy is too strong. Look at Michelle Rhee's attempts to put students first in D.C. and see what backlash she got! Check out her two informative books; somebody who really is for the kids!

  113. Rhee was and is a fraud. Check out recent investigations of her "work." That being said, I agree that DC's public schools are a multigenerational disaster.

  114. Michelle Rhee's experience in Washington should be closely looked at, by a district attorney. She lied to the public and told them that the school budget would not sustain the number of teachers they had, then after she laid teachers off the money suddenly appeared for other uses. Test results under her reign of terror are suspected of being inflated to make her look good, as are her own claims to test scores when she was a teacher. True education reform occurs every morning when a teacher comes to the classroom ready to improve on the last lesson.

  115. Rhee had complete control in DC and was a complete failure, as is her successor who was Rhee's deputy.

  116. I have been a NYC teacher for thirteen years. Although I teach in a neighborhood with many recent immigrants and English Language Learners as students, my school is considered a very good school. I would never consider encouraging cheating amongnst my students, or alterring the results. However, this school year, we have literally been informed that we can expect a high failure rate due to the tests being much more challenging and not within the students zone of proximal development. Being a veteran teacher, I'm literally having to talk new teachers into not quitting and holding the students hands while they cry due to the fact they are not prepared for the material at hand. Imagine as a ten year old being accustomed to a math test with predominantly computational problems, then tossed one with all word problems with three different operations and an explanation to match. If the children had been prepared since first grade for this type of reasoning is one thing, but to throw it in their faces with only a few months of preparation is cruel. There is no excuse for the educators in Atlanta to do what they did, but I would be hesitant to encourage a college graduate to become a teacher. These are very sad words for me to write.

  117. I guess we can thank Bloomberg for that.

  118. Teachers are demonized these days, especially public school teachers. If it's not crooked administrators making them do things that are also crooked, it is state legislators taking rights away from them. Agreed - would not encourage anyone to go into teaching. Maybe Roger Dangerfield had it right "You get no respect."

  119. Teachers and eduction in general is the new scape goat. Then it so much easier to manipulate ignorant people.
    Stepping aside from the cynicism, I'd like to thank you for choosing what I believe to be the most important profession in any society.

  120. In the words of W. E. Deming, the father of total quality management, when you place workers into a situation that demands production outcomes that they do not possess the capacity to reach, they will cheat. Not to justify the behaviors of administrators or teachers in Atlanta, but the relentless pressure to produce a high score on tests that measure family background rather than what is taught is school will continue to place administrators and teachers into situations where some kind of fraudulent practice becomes the only rational response. One more note on Deming. Much of the accountability legislation now fashioned in Washington by Congress and Arnie Duncan is based on some for of data-driven/valued-added quantification of the educational process that educators have copied from TQM. Before Deming died, he often stated that TQM methods should never be applied to the service sector ----in his words, the most important criteria for effective instruction could never be quantified.

  121. So, it is impossible to teach children from low-income families to read and write? This is most discouraging if true.

  122. Thank you invoking W. E. Deming! The schools are being set up to fail. To Jonathan;s reply, children will not learn to read and write to any degree if they do not come from home environments where literacy is part of the lived culture. Herding them into school rooms in groups of 25 to 30 will not get the job done no matter how hard the teacher works.

  123. I find it interesting that people are willing to pin high stakes testing, test-based pay incentives, "accountability" metrics on Republicans when all three programs are promoted by Arne Duncan and President Obama. Note they don't subject their own children to this Race to the Bottom, but it is perfectly acceptable for children in public schools.

  124. Who started the whole "No Child Left Behind" program?
    Oh yeah that's right, it was George W. Bush. Republican exrtraordinaire.

  125. Meg and Cindy are in a way, both right. Arne Duncan has essentially continued Bush's program, and his zeal for charter schools is not helpful, in my opinion.

    Yet, Meg, there is no question but that this Democratic administration represents a far greater financial commitment to public education than Republicans. It is the Democrats in Congress who would supply the funds needed to carry out educational goals.

    Back when the stimulus bill was being put together in 2009, no Republican would support it. The 2 Maine senators who added their votes passed the bill, but at a terrific price. They insisted on the slashing of funding to states, funding which would go to education.

  126. These kinds of inflammatory comments, with absolutely no fact-based support, are just what keeps us from progressing at all. Who are the "people" you refer to? How much does Mr. Duncan promote these policies and isn't it possible that some of these policies, if implemented in different ways or at different levels, might possibly be of some use, along with other policies that Mr. Duncan is also supporting. I get the sense that you, rather than trying to figure out really what's going on with our educational failure of a system, just want to use it to beat the drum of your own particular prejudices. Are you saying that because Arne Duncan has children in private school (does he?) that he is deliberately implementing a bad policy in public schools? Just what are you saying?

  127. It would appear, true to form, a number of posters are blaming the system for the teachers stealing money, in the form of bonuses, from the public.

    Let me get this straight - People were concerned that many kids were graduating from public school seemingly without being able to read and write properly. In order to combat this, mandatory testing was instituted to check to see if certain schools were actually teaching anything. Teachers did not wish to be accountable, as they see themselves as part of a broken system, and have fought against it. Rightfully so, they don't want to be considered responsible for a problem that is far-reaching. And, they eschew without question any sense of "the buck stops here". Other than the buck does stop there, literally. Somehow this problem which affects all of society has become a Democrat vs Republican issue. Not sure how anyone can not be concerned about kids graduating from inner city schools and can't read to the level they need to participate in a modern society. And, I can't see any way of checking this except through testing. But, in any event, now we have a situation where teachers were being awarded pay raises and bonuses and they were cheating the system in order to get these. Up to this point, I understand it.

    However....a number of posters seem to be saying "if you focus on testing of course you're going to get teachers cheating the taxpayers out of money. Who wouldn't do that?" And, that is where I am lost.

  128. D'accord! Regretfully, the United States is so polarized.

  129. While I don't think standardized testing should be the focus of education, I do agree with everything else you said. A lot of teachers can't do their jobs well. I will cut the honest ones a break, because I couldn't do much better as a teacher.

    However, I definitely think that the focus here should be on the disgusting people who cheated the system and tried to use fabricated grades to get bonuses with our tax dollars rather than focusing on giving our kids a good education. People here who are blaming the system are unknowingly sympathizing with the crooks who clearly didn't try to educate our children properly and stole from the taxpayers. I hope their defense attorneys don't read these comments. They will put the system on trial and hope some fo these commenters are on the jury.

  130. Pulseguy, please allow me to help you get "unlost". Those of us who teach in the inner city schools are deeply concerned by the low levels of achievement in ways those of your on the outside can't imagine. Extraordinary numbers of our students suffer from retardation or near retardation, severe emotional problems, and chronic rates of absenteeism and lateness, even in the elementary grades. No amount of mandatory testing will combat the low rates of academic proficiency that results from these problems. You were simply propagandized by those intent on destroying inner city schools to believe that was the case.

  131. Any Atlanta native will tell the current mess the problems with Atlanta go far beyond just the overpaid former school superintendent and system-wide standardized test cheating. This once terrific city has been sliding downhill into widespread corruption and crime since the 1980s. It now also reaches into contiguous Fulton County and DeKalb County; same people, same criminal behaviors.

  132. Don't hold Atlanta up for shame. This is going on all over the country as one district after another tries to win those awards. I also do not like President Bush's NCLB scheme but this story goes much, much further back than President Bush. One of the first things I heard when I started teaching was: "They can't learn anyway. So, don't knock yourself out." You all know which children I am talking about. Then there was the principal who said "As long as they keep the kids happy, I don't care whether they can spell or not." He was talking about the teachers, not the students.

    George Bush knew what was happening and to whom it was happening. He was quite mistaken in how to correct the problem but I've been mistaken a few times in my life. Haven't you?

  133. Unbridled corporate greed has not only corroded and corrupted our democratic process, our civic morals and the way we project those values to the world, but now even the way we educate our children. God help this nation. God help us all.

  134. Of course these education professionals who gamed the system to line their pockets had something to do with it.

  135. What they did is shameful - absolutely shameful and no excuse for it. But the national emphasis on testing at the expense of real taching and its impact on our children are equally shameful. Please let this be an alarm that leads to change to educational policies.

  136. The problem with teaching came BEFORE NCLB - that's why it was implemented, but it obviously hasn't worked in some schools. In others it has.

  137. Our public school system in this country has been ravaged by Bush's war on education. And No Child Left Behind with all its fine sounding goals and the GOP plundering of education funding on the state and local levels will continue to weaken the very foundation of our republic.

  138. Every teacher I know calls it ECLB. Every child left behind. So much attention is paid to the disabled child..whether there emotional, behavioral, mental, or physical disorders that the top achievers are bored along with the bulk of students getting no help at all.

    I think we need to employ a lot of out-of-work people to be teacher's aides. Of course this will take a lot of money spent correctly.

    Why can't we treat our big problems such as lousy public education with a Manhattan Project mentality. Put top people in a building and have them come up with a new way of teaching...and then use that plan to completely change the way we teach!

    I know that I was bored out of my mind in school..hated it! And it seems as if nothing has changed. We are failing to reach so MANY kids!!

  139. You do know Obama has been Prez for 5 years?

  140. VaSteve,

    I don't think jaxcat knows that. A boatload of readers still think that since everything is still Bush's fault, Obama must have just taken over.

  141. NCLB was valuable from the stand point it identified groups that were low achievers but the response, rather than focus on instruction, was one of cheating by rigging the tests or out and out doctoring the answer sheets. I was a high school principal in a major urban district. Yearly my bosses would chastise me because my school's scores were not as high as other similar schools in my district.. I maintained the integrity of the exams while I knew many others, ones who received commendations, were cheating and were getting headlines and accolades while I was considered a mediocre administrator. An adviser was sent to my school to help us achieve better scores and when I asked that person what we were doing wrong I was told what we were doing was fine but to get the big results like our "neighbors" we needed to cheat. Needless to say I refused to go down that path and remained a "mediocre administrator". When I decided to retire my district sent several high level administrators to my building to try to talk me out of leaving but I left and work with my state as a consultant working with districts and schools to use the tests as a tool to drive instruction. it is unfortunate that in many districts there is this culture of cheating. What most people do not realize is statisticians can identify the cheaters but politically no one wants to out the cheaters, especially when bonuses are attached to high scores.

  142. In a company, it is usually the brother-in-law of the owner that wins the sales contest. All those other contests and awards are rigged. Don't forget the bonuses awarded by corporate boards of directors to corporate executives for meeting certain goals (goals which are set by the corporate executives themselves).

  143. Again ... an urban district ... what was the real problem? seems teachers were having to waste more time dealing with troublemakers than teaching kids (when I was in school, I was a troublemaker but just spitballs, etc - and if we got busted we either got swats or detention - and there were very few serious problems - and if I got in trouble in school, and they called my parents, I'd get in trouble at home too). The problem seems to be lack of discipline at home, and parents expect the schools to make up for it. It was a losing situation from the start. The answer would be separate classes for troublemakers and kids who want to learn - move the troublemakers right from school into jail and the good kids would have a chance to learn so they could get a job.

  144. Scandals such as this one are the inevitable consequence of teacher's and supervisor's ability to work in their chosen field being held hostage to the results of standardized tests.

    In this case, the awarding of extra cash was involved, resulting in an alleged tawdry conspiracy.

    But most usually, cheating will occur (and occur regularly and increasingly) in a more local and less systematic manner as educational professionals attempt desperately to retain their jobs and livelihood in our new educational atmosphere of insecurity and terror.

    Once a cherished profession, education will attract fewer and fewer of the best types of young people, required by the recent reforms.

    Would you recommend this career to your child?

    Michael Feldman
    Former 2nd generation NYC educator

  145. AMEN. 10 years is about all I can handle. I love this kids, but the administrators are pathological.

  146. Whoever came up with the idea that standardized testing measures educational success is an idiot.

    The purpose of education is to foster the abilities to distinguish nonsense from fact, find relevant information, put two and two together, understand how numbers work, think synthetically, and read and write coherent, intelligible sentences.

    Standardized tests are a futile effort to deconstruct students' cognitive processes into components that have meaning only in relation to the integrated whole of one's ability to understand.

    As with everything else destroying American society, the American economy, and the American environment, standardized testing is good for the people who make money off of it and bad for everybody else.

  147. With all respect, you may be right, but the bigger issue here remains the corrupt dishonesty of yet another part of American society, a nihilistic dishonesty which is destroying America in tandem with the grotesque greed you rightfully decry.

  148. This ineffable "integrated whole" is impossible to accurately measure, so we might as well use grades and teacher evaluations to distinguish among competing students. Then, if bribery or favoritism are at work, they become impossible to prove.
    The bad thing about tests is that one has to use such crude means as cheating in order to produce the right results. I guess that makes cheating unavoidable.

  149. I couldn't agree more. But for the sake of this particular story I am disgusted with what this woman did and feel she and her accomplices deserve to be imprisoned.

  150. Yet another one of George W Bush's success stories. This all started in 2001 when Bush signed the "No Child Left Behind" act which imposed these standardized tests in all schools. This is what you can expect when you basically sink or swim according to the results of a test that penalized schools for a lack of improvement. Eventually, you do whatever you can to prop those scores up, even if it means cheating.

  151. And yet it was the Obama White House who chose to fete her.

  152. Yeah. Let's blame Bush. Let's blame the alignment of the planets at the time when this all took place.

    This woman is an unpardonable cretin whose actions she alone is responsible for.

    Bush is history. Get over it. And Hall is about to be history too, in prison... and will probably be tutoring some of the miscreants in prison that she had "pushed" forward who could barely read and write upon "graduation" from high-school.

    She's "the worst of the worst".

  153. I don't like George Bush and that stupid law too. However, I also have concerns with partisan comments like this because they absolve corrupt officials. This basically gives them an out saying "It was too hard to raise the scores and I wanted what was best for the kids so I had to cheat!" Let's not make this woman a hero just because the system was screwed up.

  154. Let's not forget the Washington D.C. cheating scandal, documented by USA Today, under former chancellor Michelle Rhee. How much more is there to come out from that educational debacle?

  155. No one forgets Rhee... but this report isn't about her. It's about the utterly contemptable and utterlt reprehensible Hall.

    Let's not attempt to deflect from the current issue at hand.

  156. Are you saying it is Michelle Rhee's fault? It was a good plan and had good intentions. Michelle expected honesty and hard work from her principals and teachers. The unintended bad outcome of Michelle's reform is the result of greed taking over selflessness, a quality that persists in "real" teachers.

  157. Nice effort at distraction.

  158. Ask anyone from her once-and-former NYC community school district if he/she is surprised by this news. The results won't be surprising.

  159. It is not cheating per se it is a school's ability to grade and police itself then be awarded based on the results. Years ago I taught 9th grade high school English. My state (not Pennsylvania) financially awarded school districts for handicapped student improvement. The method was "mainstreaming"; placing a handicapped student in a traditional classroom. I was assigned a 15 year old who could not read - at all. He was a pleasant little guy who simply smiled and handed back blank paper. His semester score was in the low 30's (I had to provide credit for his showing up and participating). I was hauled before a vice principal, guidance counselor and special ed teacher and admonished for failing as a teacher. I was advised a passing grade should be issued or there's be trouble. Intimidated, I entered a "D". When I got the print-out the grade had been changed to a "B". The next year I went to law school.

  160. I'm not blaming you for leaving, but... what would happen if police officers in charge of crowd control abandon their post because few in the crowd ignore their orders?

  161. Paul, as an educator you surely know the difference between being given discretion to set grades in your own classroom and changing scores on a STATE TEST. There is a huge difference. Internal grading policies are very subjective, but education regulators have very strict requirements to protect the integrity of state tests. This was a corrupt way for the superintendent to boost state testing scores to bring more aid to the school and make herself look good. That is beyond illegal and reprehensible.

  162. At least you received a decent preparation for the study of law as a teacher...

  163. Who is under more pressure to succeed? Our children or our responsible educators?

  164. Not sure what your talking about. These education professionals did it for the money they could steal.

  165. I am a product of the Atlanta Public School System, so I am truly distressed by this controversy. It appears that pure greed as usual was the motivating factor for the alleged wide spread cheating.

  166. What "controversy" ?

  167. As a NYC public school educator for the past 20 years, nothing surprises me anymore. I'm against merit pay, basing teacher's salary on students' test performance, and all the multi-day testings that are being phased in.

    As long as we emphasize testing and use it to grade everything from schools to teachers to children, then cheating will continue to happen. Teachers are being blamed unfairly for everything. In reality, it's the system and the policies that are failing everyone. I would not recommend teaching to anyone nowadays, and I feel sorry for the children who do test prep all day long in their school for a single subject for an entire month before each state exam.

    I sent my own children to a private school that does not give state tests so that they can learn for the sake of learning. Learning should be fun, and school should be inspiring.

  168. I agree with you. Private schooling is the answer. Government schools are a big waste of money and only exist for the convenience of teachers and their unions.

  169. I wish there were more of you!!! Kudos!!!

  170. It's ironic that a superintendent of schools can be indicted but Wall Street, the bankers and financiers whom caused the entire world to plunge into recession and stole billions seem to be beyond the AG's grasp. Is the Georgia state prosecutor THAT much more competent than Eric Holder?

  171. Yes.

    Has Eric Holder proven himself competent at anything?

  172. No Bonus Left Behind.

    Thanks, W.

  173. At this point, don't you mean O?

  174. Cheating definitely wasn't the right way to go about it!

  175. To borrow from John Lennon, what would happen if they held a standardized test, and no one showed up?

    I've been teaching for about 15 years, Stateside and now abroad, and I often think about this kind of quiet revolution. Would colleges and universities stop enrolling students because of no SAT/AP scores? Would there suddenly law schools be empty if no one took the LSAT? And so on and so forth with respect to the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, etc?

    This scenario -- which reveals both my cynicism and idealism, alone would result in what I hope would be an extended time of thinking, carefully and thoughtfully, of the meaning and purpose of education.

    If ever there was broken and pervasively gamed and exploited system, perfectly suited for a social-media driven "revolution," standardized testing is it. Students themselves have the means to change this.

  176. Many top colleges are switching admission policies to SAT optional.

  177. We ignore how learning creates minds. We misuse testing to create false measures—that is the fundamental fraud. Still, banishment from teaching and long prison terms are in order.

  178. this is not about george bush, everyone's whipping boy. it is about greed, plain and simple. bonuses-big bonuses; the accolades were secondary to the financial aspect. very well organized too, along the union lines.

  179. Apparently, Dr. Hall did cultivate a climate of cheating.

    To think that the District Superintendent of Schools would even think of doing so is shocking and appalling.

    Teachers and principals are supposed to be role models for our youth - instead, they're being told that cheating is ok and normal. No wonder that honesty, doing the right thing and ethics are seen less and less in American society at all levels today.

    If you think honesty, hard work and effort are rare in America today, just wait another 15 years when the youth of today become the adults of tomorrow. .

  180. Throughout this entire story, I keep thinking, "'Dr.' Hall? Really? Doctor of what? She couldn't be a "real doctor" for clearly she hadn't taken the Hippocratic oath … "First do no harrm.…'".

  181. My 20% estimate is regards to students cheating at my school. The "isolated events" comment is about teachers and administrators in public schools across the US cheating with regards to standardized tests. Two distinct phenomena. If schools were judged more holistically, then the value of standarized tests scores would decrease, and the pressure to perform on them would lessen, and cheating would decrease. But we do need to have common benchmarks such as these standardized tests to measure outcomes.

  182. Is there any educational, governmental, military, religious, or secular institution of any size that is not corrupt?
    Huh?
    Woody Allen said, "The older I get, the more I develop a pathological absence of denial."

  183. I am grateful that what literally was "done in the dark" has "come to the light." I am a high school teacher and understand the pressure that is placed upon our shoulders to do everything possible to increase test score; but these desperate tactics are just plain heartbreaking.

    It is yet another smear on an already tarnished reputation, and view of educators today. It is long overdue for those powers that be to investigate why these people who hold the public's trust will stoop to such a level of debauchery. I am happy to say that where I work, we strive to raise our scores by raising up our students to reach for the stars with hard work, and dedication. I don't know where I heard this or who should get credit for writing it, but it speaks volumes here, "Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat."

  184. The ridiculous mania for test results has brought us to this inevitable outcome. Is anyone surprised. A HS teacher friend of mine told me that his dept chair recently warned his teachers "from now on we will have to teach to the test." He was very upset and discouraged, but the pressure is enormous.

    We are destroying public education. And please, stop blaming George Bush. NCLB was ill advised, but no more so than "Race to the Top" or this focus on Charter Schools.

  185. We all known she was a cheater in NYC and Newark Yet the fools hired her

  186. The idea of turning education into a business through standardized testing is a crime against our entire nation. Much money has and is being sucked out of the school systems that need it, to pay corporations that have nothing to do with educating children. The problem here in the education arena is the same one acting on the banking and health care sectors in the US - corrupt businesses attract corrupt people. Those people take actions that require bailouts.

    Anyone want to wager how likely it is that the nation bailout the education system? Probably just another excuse for greedy politicians to continue gut the future.

  187. Three of my five children trained to teach. None of them lasted more than a year. One, a Math Teacher, quit after he was forced to pass failing students in an inner city school. One, a History Teacher, quit after he was placed on leave for stopping a very large and violent young woman student from beating up a tiny girl. He was told he should have waited for the school officer. The third, a Music Teacher, quit after a senior colleague explained how political music education was and how he'd have to constantly suck up to parents and administrators if he wanted music to be funded.

    All three were talented students and would have been excellent teachers. All have found success in other areas.

    the brightest and best do not go into teaching and the few who do, often quit.

  188. Shane,
    That is great that your children have found success in other areas. But have you ever heard that "teaching is not for the faint of heart?'" I am a high school teacher, and I have watched principals and administrators come and go over the years for various reasons. Some leave because of the pay, the long hours, the discipline issues, getting harassed by parents who believe they can do the job better than the teacher, or like your children have found success elsewhere.

    Some teachers quit because they don't like working with low ability children, students from other countries who speak little to no English. Some are not willing to take on the huge amount of work required to teach children with challenges. Some quit because they can't choose who they are assigned to teach. None of these reasons make them too good for the profession, it just makes them realize that they don't have the qualifications sorely needed in education.

  189. Houston teachers and administrators are known to relate similar practices. Rod Paige became President Bush's Secretary of Education and one of the main authors of No Child Left Behind.

  190. Michele Rhee is next. Bet on it!

  191. I hope so!

  192. The profession of a teacher should not be the next better thing than standing at intersections holding a cardboard sign asking for handouts. After dot com bust, many people chose to become a teacher. It is so much easier to get a job as teacher than most jobs in IT industry.

    Teachers should have at least a masters degree, and they should be paid excellent salary (60K-80K range). it should not be a profession for rejects of other industry. Take a look at how it is done in Denmark, the country that is #1 in education.

  193. Dear Working Class Tax Payer,

    Great comment; teachers like the grunt workers in IT are looked down on as less than highly skilled professionals, because many are not. But the stereotype is not reality. Passion is a key motivator for many people.

    Many teachers, good and bad, have a great passion for being educators.The corporatizers exploit that passion to enable the peasant wages for people in a critical profession. It does great harm. Doubling or tripling teacher pay will help. Much of the funding needed by reducing the bloated pay at the top and eliminating the testing parasites.

  194. Korea and Singapore follow the same model. Korea calls teachers "nation builders"

  195. When there are rewards for high scores, the honor system doesn't work. People outside the school system should proctor the exams. No one working for the school district should administer, grade, and have custody of the exams.

  196. The same should apply to them as it houd to the bank robbers. If found guilty, jail time and repay all of the bonuses, but this is America, and it usually applies only to the poor.

  197. Maybe it's time to dump the testing system in America and let classroom teachers go back to the job of educating students.

  198. Or perhaps we should learn lessons from nations that manage to administer tests with integrity. Even generally corrupt India and China manage to administer national tests that are beyond reproach.

  199. This is why I am in favor of modernizing testing. As a staunch opponent of standardized testing, I was thrilled when the NWEA's MAP tests came to my (laptop-equipped) school. It is extremely difficult to cheat on this test, given that it is online and one cannot go back to check work after completing a problem. Even better, the software "adapts" to the student's ability based on how many questions are answered correctly; thus immediately upon the completion of the test a score correlated with grade level is assigned. It is possible to differentiate between a high-scoring pupil and one who scores on the college level, as well as one who scores far below college level. My hope is that legislators eventually realize the pointlessness of incentivizing these "standardized tests"and actually become interested in promoting education.

    Thousand-dollar bonuses for test scores? As a student who just finished the "CT Mastery Tests", I am laughing aloud at the thought of this. Educators (or so they call themselves) are really getting desperate.

  200. Are you a salesman for MAP? Most test publishers really need guys like you. Keep it up!

  201. Step (guy below me); my goodness that is embarrassing. Forget anything I ever said about MAP tests. Instead I will continue to complain about standardized testing without offering a viable alternative. I am 13 years old and I know better than most people commenting on this website how ineffective the CMT's and their ilk are in promoting learning. I spent the entire month of March taking those dreaded tests, forcing classes to screech to a halt so we cannot learn a single thing for three weeks. I am simply attempting to voice my opinion on this venerable website. Again, my apologies for giving an alternative to typical tests.

    Also--do you really think everybody who mentions the SAT's is advocating for College Board? Let me know when you find a test similar to the MAP that I can advocate for as well.

  202. "Pay for performance" does not work in education, and can lead to this kind of corruption because your pay is based on documented "performance" and this leads to all kinds of incentives to fudge the data.

    Why do people think this system would work any better in health care?

  203. Physicians are paid for ordering tests. So our health care system is the most expensive in the world but the outcomes are mediocre at best. The same situation applies to teachers being paid bonuses for better test scores. The children are poorly educated but everything looks good on paper. What kind of example are we setting for these children? And how are we preparing them to be the future leaders? God help us all.

  204. In an examination of the appalling events in Atlanta schools, I hope it doesn't become lost how a system that employs standardized testing as the principal measure of the effectiveness of teachers and administrators and awards them accordingly establishes a culture that undermines the essence of education: to collectively strive for a love of learning. Secondly, the case of the El Paso superintendent who received a sentence of 45 years is one more example of a misguided enthusiasm for incarceration. Surely lengthy jail sentences should be reserved for those who are a danger to public safety; the purpose of punishment should not solely be retribution to satisfy a community's thirst for exacting revenge.

  205. Wow!!! Not to worry. She can get a high ranking job in the Obama adminstration. This is just what this country is turning into. We need some new leadershiip and someone that will crack down on this. Not turn their head and say "Well they deserve it"' Come on America, we can do better then this.

  206. Oh, please. Beyond mindless partisanship, is there a point to linking this cheating scandal with the Obama administration? Didn't the national fixation on standardized testing come as a consequence of GW Bush's "No Child Left Behind?" Perhaps we can get that "New leadership" you call for by promoting to national office the Republican-run Texas State Board of Education. You remember them, don't you, the folks who want abolish 'critical thinking?' They can "crack down," though: corporal punishment is a long-running conservative favorite.

  207. The federal government was hardly important in public education (despite all the mythology) until NCLB. Obama's biggest education problem is following in the footsteps of GWB and his ilk.

  208. Regardless of political persuasion (FYI, I tend to vote Democratic Party), you have to give props to Georgia's ex-governor, Sonny Perdue (Republican), for doggedly pursuing the matter (like a true Bulldawg--heh, heh.) I can only hope that other high-ranking state officials will show as much courage to take on politically risky challenges for the good of their state.

    Suffice it to say, Atlanta public schools face serious challenges in rebuilding community trust and the educational workforce that was lost during Dr. Hall's tenure. (Makes me wonder how often this cheating goes on in other school districts.)

  209. Cheating is wrong. Telling a group of people that their jobs depend on the outcome of tests taken by others is problematic. Do we evaluate Dentists based on how many cavities their patients have? Don't tempt honest people.

    We should use tests for the purpose they were designed, to indicate a knowledge level of a student, a class, a school, a district , or a political entity. There are too many variable impacting the outcome of a single test to use it to evaluate the teacher or the student.

    If you want to evaluate teachers look to see if they do what you expect a teacher to do. Are they compassionate? Do they use intelligent lesson plans? Can the communicate effectively to the students, parents and other education community members? Do they understand the material they are required to teach? Are they professional in their approach to the job? The standards for teachers should be clear and they should be evaluated on those standards, not on singular test events.

  210. Yes, teachers do all of the above and they are not rewarded for it. It is the ones who don't teach that ignore these facts.

  211. Teachers are not evaluated on a single test. These 'educators' just chose to cheat, for years, as it was an expedient way to get large bonuses. Good teachers, and most are good, do not cheat. But the government system (Dept. of ED, and admistrators across the country) doesn't allow for teachers to be fired or lose their pay because they don't perform their jobs. Ask any teacher and I think your blood would boil.

  212. JoeB, another insightful post. Well done, sir!

  213. I grew up going through inner city public schools in the 50s. If we screwed up our parents handled the problem - because they cared. Almost all of the comments here are from people blaming the greedy Republicans or the corrupt union teachers. They're terrified of naming the real boogyman. How do we get better parents? There will never be a real solution to the problem until we do.
    The only heroes here are the teachers who couragously try to make a difference despite impossible odds.

  214. It's a catch-22, IMO. You say 'how do we get better parents'? Education.
    The evidence is overwhelmingly clear, that when people are educated, they are armed with knowledge which helps them make better decisions in life - and one of those big decisions is when to have children...waiting until you are ready both emotionally and financially.
    And you can't take politics out of it. Look at the school drop out rates and teen pregnancy rates in red states...states which even now are cutting education budgets even more (so they can siphon that money to the wealthy...who they have coined as the 'job creators'). But, sadly, in this cycle we have people who have been undereducated being told their lack of services is good...that essentially their own undereducation is for the sake of keeping the wealthy wealthy, so alas, so the sad cycle continues.
    It's a great pity, and it won't be better until our country collectively puts a higher value on education. Making it all about the poor parenting is putting the chicken before the egg.

  215. Dick, there are good parents out there. There are good teachers out there. I found those (both groups) to be in the majority. The question is how to we improve both parents and teachers. We can't generalize and blame it all on any one group.

  216. If Lance had to give back 7 years of winnings for non-criminal claims of cheating how can teachers skate away from these criminal activities.
    Get a judgement and or garnishee their earnings and pensions for the amount of their total earnings during the time they were committing the scams - No expensive trials needed to teach them how the adult world treats "cheating".

  217. It appears much of this cheating was encouraged or even ordered by principals. That puts the teachers in an impossible position, since refusing to participate would endanger their jobs.

  218. It's the age-old American tradition: incentivize bad behavior, turn a blind eye towards it as long as it works, but once you can't conceal it any more, act shocked and appalled and call for blood in a fit of (partially justified) righteous indignation

    We did it to Wall Street, during the financial crisis and LIBOR scandals. We did it with the military, during the many prisoner abuse scandals. And we did it to FEMA after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush Administration after the Valerie Plame scandal, and Blackwater International after the defense contractor shootings and Iraq reconstruction scandals. There are other examples of course (the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, for example), but they are too many and too numerous to name here

    The only difference is that now--NOW, that we are dealing with those damned, greedy, and selfish public school teachers--we aren't content to look for a handful of scapegoats to suffer a mild slap on the wrist. (And unlike Scooter Libby, the prospect of a Presidential pardon looks increasingly remote)

    It's also worth noting that one indictee of this investigation (Dr. Hall) is accused of defrauding her stakeholders of about $500,000 dollars through her actions. And yet, she is potentially facing MORE jail time (up to 45 years) than the Abu Graib torturers, Jack Abramoff, and Scooter Libby *combined*. At least with Bernie Maddoff, he'll be serving a life sentence--but his misdeeds amounted to damages somewhere in the range of few BILLION dollars.

  219. What's your point? Excuse this lying, deceiving educator that stole the future of thousands of kids and intimidated her whole system, including parents and children because she only stole $500K? She stole much more.

  220. It is common knowledge that children are being removed from certain classes in order to improve the test scores by the Principal at Lakeshore Elementary, which is in the Humble School District...so if this is illegal in Georgia, why isn't it illegal in Texas and why isn't this district being investigated.

  221. The Atlanta paper has a schools reporter who was able to get input from teachers who were afraid of the system - the power of the press brought this to light.

  222. It is illegal. And while many commenters here seem to excuse it because 'teachers were incented to cheat' there is no excuse. Funny that so many angrily scream about CEOs and Wall Street. Yes, it's maddening, but 99% did not break the law. These teachers did, but its OK?!

    BTW, cheating has been reported in PA, NY, DC, MI, WI, IL, MD, and FL. My guess is that it exists in all 50 states. It is not a Republican thing, a Democrat thing, or a teacher thing. Those that cheat are the same thugs that could and would commit fraud and run a mafia, if given the chance. While it is a few, it amazes me that so many would step forward to excuse their criminal behavior. Seems progressives live quite the double standard.

  223. High stakes testing is a poor policy for a number of reasons one of which it frequently leads to cheating.

  224. Other countries manage to succeed with it. Why not the US?

  225. Right about now, as terrible an atrocity as De'Marquis Elkins commited in Brunswick, Georgia... I feel enormous compassion for the potential of him being one of many children ignored by Dr. Hall's vile actions.

    At such a critical time in the lives of children... when education could have helped those two boys to choose a healthy path... Dr. Hall has blood on her hands!

  226. Brunswick has nothing to do with Atlanta, nor is it impacted by Hall. There is NO EXCUSE for what Elkins did.

    I'm shocked that you would use this cheating scandal to justify or excuse shooting a baby in the face while he slept in his stroller while his Mom pleaded for his life. She was shot by this guy and his friend as well, all because she had no money. Can you honestly believe that all boils down to a school system not meeting his needs?!

  227. Just the tip of a much larger iceberg.

  228. School reformers should read up on W. Edwards Deming whose mantra is "teamwork to improve the process" rather than applying questionable evaluation techniques and incentives to individual employees. Cheating is a well-documented result of high stakes incentive programs from the plant floor to the executive suite.

  229. Well, people believed Bernie Madoff too. The lesson here is that optimism bias rules - people want to believe in good news, even ones too good to be true.

  230. As long as states insist on using single standardized tests as accountability measures for students, teachers and administrators, cheating will exist. It is sheer stupidity to judge the entire year's work of a professional using a single assessment. This wouldn't be accepted in other professions and it shouldn't in education. Doctors should be judged on the basis of their work with one patient at one time? Regardless of the health background of the patient?
    Even places with so-called balanced evaluation systems rely disproportionately on one piece of test data. I have yet to see any system use parental involvement or lack thereof as a factor in teacher evaluation. Educators know that it is the single best predictor of student success, yet it is completely ignored.
    Sadly, what initially started as an assault on teachers' unions and non-private schools by conservatives has been embraced by a broad spectrum of politicians and "educators" like Perdue and Rhee (who exaggerated her own students' test scores) as something helpful. The practice will continue to discourage promising candidates from entering the field of public education and eventually destroy the one institution that offers equal opportunity for upward mobility.

  231. You're right.The system stinks. I would never encourage a young person to pursue education as a career.

    The worst position to be in is one where you have a lot of responsibility but with no authority or little control of the outcome. That's where teachers find themselves, especially ones in failing schools.

  232. Did you ever open your mouth and say a phrase that you immediately recognized as something your parent said when you were a kid? If you did, then you know how long it takes sometimes for the impact of a good teaching lesson to surface. No standardized test asks, did you learn to work harder, to be fair, to be tolerant, to avoid gangs, drugs or the value of honesty.

    If a high school math teacher has students for 180 classes in a year, loses five days to special school events, and five for absences, a review class and a test class for each of 12 chapters (24 days,) three practice tests @ 2 classes per test (9 days with 1 day of review for each test) That leaves about 137 classes to teach lessons. If the classes were an hour long, and they are not, that would be about a week of their lives. That is why it is so important for teachers to encourage the love of learning, the skill of learning and to teach these along with our subject matter. Most learning goes on outside of the classroom.

  233. Teachers do love to teach and they love their students. It's time everyone stop blaming teachers for the failure of education created by obstacles from parents, administrators, and those who ignore the challenges and obstacles teachers face today.

  234. Powerful Good Friday story about the abuses of power in the Atlanta Public School system --and by educators no less who seem to care only about enriching themselves rather than helping disadvantaged kids learn the tools to improve their lives. Now, perhaps, a jury will find the 35 "chosen" guilty of great sin and throw the book at them.

  235. Agree, but do not be so naive as to think this isn't happening around the country. Especially in large city school systems. Corruption is rampant, inexcusable, and must be investigated and prosecuted.

  236. I work at a university that passes students whether or not they turn in work or show up. The instructors need ''numbers'' else the University will 'cut' the programs, and the instructors are afraid of losing their jobs. It is hard to imagine students passing university classes when they can't understand , speak or write the language the course is being taught in. This isn't a problem isolated to Atlanta but prevalent everywhere. It is so much easier just to pass the student.

  237. Yes, that is certainly what is going on in universities because they are businesses and students are the clients. In fact, many universities remind professors that the students are, they actually use this very word: customers. And since professors' jobs depend on student evaluations, they actually have to lower their standards to avoid student complaints. This is why, for example, many law firms now have to teach their new lawyers how to write.

  238. Test the teachers.

  239. Exactly, an observer, someone who doesn't know what teachers have to face everyday to teach their love of learning.

  240. Already happens.

  241. Put the supervisors back in the schools. When I started teaching, each new teacher had a supervisor for three years. Mine was a jewel. She showed up about once a month, listened to lessons, talked with me about any problems I raised and made suggestions for weaknesses she saw. And she stayed around to help where she was needed. She would drop in "surprise" because she'd come across something that she thought might help.

    The first cuts I saw in our district were the supervisors. The union declared that teachers were adults and should be free to do their job as they want without someone else telling them how. I'm here to tell you that my supervisor was a life saver. I don't think I'd have stayed in teaching without her early support. Now a new teacher is tossed into the most difficult classes to sink or swim. I have seen too many walk out, some before the year was out. Teaching, really teaching (drawing the students out and enticing them to want to learn) is not an easy job.

  242. I do agree with the comments about the No Child Left Behind Act being a major reason for things like this happening in school systems. I was in either 7th or 8th grade when NCLB was put in place. As many of us called it, even back then, "Failing Students Forward".

  243. I recall asking a friend whose mother was a long time teacher in Georgia about the practice of public school teachers 'cleaning up' the score sheets of standardized tests - she told me it was a regular process and did not think there was anything wrong with it. And this was during the Clinton administration. This is NOT just the result of NCLB, trust me.

  244. The big problem is not standardized testing, nor is it tying financial incentives to standardized test scores: it is tying money to scores, and then leaving test administration in the hands of people who can gain by cheating.

    The solution is to administer the tests, but let someone grade them who is truly objective, and has nothing to gain or lose by tweaking the scores.

    Every single industrial democracy in the world tests it's kids. England has A- and O-levels. France and Germany have nationally administered tests. Ditto Sweden and Finland and Japan and all the rest. Every time we try to do that here, the teachers and their union scuttle the tests. Here in Washington State, the teachers told their students not to show up for a statewide exam. After a couple of years, the state scrapped it. The Commissioner of Education at the time was Arne Duncan, now in the other Washington. This came after another, smaller home grown cheating scandal in which teachers manipulated test scores to pump bonuses and avoid layoffs.

    RDeW

  245. I think you're right. There can be too much emphasis on testing, but some is needed. However, we cannot even say what results may or may not be significant because of the sloppy way these are administered.

  246. Seems to me that part of the problem is the CEO culture: executives bleating that it's their fiduciary responsibility to bend/break the law. If pharmaceutical companies, for instance, have a responsibility to cheat in reporting drug studies, why shouldn't teachers cheat on high-stakes testing?

  247. The moral failure of teachers, educators, and administrators is directly tied to Big Pharma!

  248. Unlike those posters who believe the tests do more harm than good, I believe accountability is critical and that systematic testing, while imperfect, is a necessary tool to hold educators responsible for the results they achieve. The alternative is to apply mostly subjective and far less perfect standards for judging teachers, and we have had decades of failure under that system.

    The tests should continue, and regulators should root out any and all cheating. One easy way to do so would be to have independent staff administer the exams, rather than leave the completed tests in the hands of those who have an incentive to cheat.

  249. Yes what our school systems really need is to support a network of 'independent' consultants to administer all exams. Public private money laundering I mean partnership!

  250. Decades of failure? What an embarrassingly ignorant comment. Great gains in closing the achievement gap were made in the 70s and 80s before stalling in the 90s and then picking up again. Black kids today average higher scores on NAEP than white kids did when the test was first introduced in 1990. The media myth about our failing schools comes mostly from our mediocre performance in PISA. Countries that have reduced child poverty have, not surprisingly, moved to the top of PISA rankings while our rising child poverty rate pushes down our achievement data relative to other PISA participants.

  251. The assessments used in accountability systems are typically well constructed, valid, and reliable instruments; however, they tend to measure developed verbal and mathematical abilities which are relatively stable over time. Consequently, low-achieving students are unlikely to make the large annual gains required to reduce achievement gaps. We simply do not know how to achieve such growth. As a result, teachers and administrators are placed in a no-win situation. Assessments that are more sensitive to recent instruction can be useful for remedial work, but without a better understanding of human learning and the factors that affect it, accountability systems are bound to fail.

  252. David Sarnoff (Founder of RCA) is quoted as saying that "competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people." As a School Board Member in Baraboo, WI., what I take away from this sad tale--unfortunately one of many--is not only what a climate of "fear" can do to "good" people, but that this climate has been created by a misguided ideology playing out in many state legislatures--especially my own--where competition around "student achievement" (defined by these test scores) equates to educational funding. There is no question in my mind that the incomprehensible pressures to "win"--exerted at all levels--is at the root of these ethical failures.

  253. From WI too - the great educational system we used to have here is clearly a state detail of the past.

    People are not leading this country anymore, ideology is.

  254. Stop blaming teachers. The countries beating the academic pants off us don't spend huge sums on public school sports. American newspapers have a separate sports section, but never a daily science section. States shutter institutions that once cared for the severely disabled and mainstream them into the schools. Budgets that feed the poor are cut and schools now provide breakfast and lunch. For many the school nurse is the main child care giver, because our nation refuses to provide national health care. Our government cuts NASA funding and has the Russians fly our own astronauts into space; . There are U.S. Congressmen that don't believe in science, that think the Earth is only thousands of years old, that think scientists are making up global warming and evolution is an abomination. Government and the military industrial complex pull us into the two longest wars in America's history, spending trillions while making us less safe, then nickel and dime the school budgets - followed with laments that schools are not graduating a capable workforce as other countries that divert far less of their nations wealth on wars and weaponry. In Finland, South Korea, Japan, Holland teaching is an honored, well supported profession. But in America we tell single parent mothers who happen to be Atlanta teachers to get their students test scores up – or be fired and good luck trying to feed your own kids and pay for their medical expenses.

  255. It's not exactly news that Republicans don't like unions, especially public-sector ones. In this case their animus has little to do with the quality of public education; it's the quantity of money teacher's unions donate to their Democratic opponents that really riles them up.

  256. I was reading online yesterday about the obscene salaries paid to pro athletes and I wonder where have our values, judgement, integrity gone that we value athletes and celebrities more than the people charged with teaching the future leaders of our country.

  257. America has a star struck society that encourages our children they can make it big without ant appreciable effort. Throw into that a fatherless culture that no one addresses and you have the recipe for a filing educational system.

  258. I never accept amazing success stories about test scores. As a teacher I know how hard it is to raise scores even a little. The cheaters nourish a myth about how miracles are possible. Well, if it were that easy, how come it hadn't been done long ago?

  259. This is why "responsibility" is better than "accountability" when it comes to teaching. If you're being evaluated on numbers, there's a way to game the system. Teacher responsibility is apparently a hallmark of the much-lauded Finnish school system. They don't have standardized tests.

  260. If we were truly interested in having our children learn, we would hold the parents responsible for a child's success or failure. The teachers I have met got into the profession with a positive attitude and ready to work. What they found were children who had no guidance or sense of purpose from home.

    Teachers can't make the children do homework. Teachers can't make a child have a responsible attitude. That's the parents job.

    If a child is not making the grade, require the parent to come into the school and take courses on how to help a child. If the parent won't come in, send counselors out to their homes.

    We've proven that throwing money into just the school will not make the child responsible and learn.

    Look at the students who are learning and copy the life patterns that they are being taught.

    The family sits down and eats dinner together. The parent will ask about homework and if it has been done. The parent has read to the child from the day they were born through at least the fourth grade. The parents go to their child's band concerts at school. They are active members of the PTO. The know who the teachers are and have talked to them. The parents have accepted that their child's education is their responsibility.

    Reduce redundant administrators and school boards who only want the power and the prestige and put the money into educators who can and will teach the students and the parents the path to success.

    If not, God help us.

  261. Nice idea, but what magic wand will you wave to suddenly create all these good parents? Teachers have to deal with what is, not some wonderful fantasy.

  262. A lot of people are trashing standardized testing, so let me point out what it does well: it provides a common metric by which to evaluate students. Sure it doesn't normally account for creative ability, interpersonal skills, etc., but it's not meant to. That's what grades are for. Unfortunately, though, grades can not be easily compared from one school district to the next, or often even from one school to another. So how else do you determine whether America's children as a whole are learning some of the valuable skills they should be acquiring? That's right, standardized testing. It's certainly not a perfect tool, but, when designed, administered, and evaluated appropriately, it does provide valuable information for educators and policymakers that they can't get from grades.

  263. We have all been taking standardized tests our whole lives. It is when those tests are misused and overemphasized that problems result.

  264. Administer the SAT's to our all teachers above first grade, and see what you get. But what do you do, when they all fail? As in many occupations, (doctors, lawyers, accountants), most are incompetent..
    As in others, (bankers,politicians) most are corrupt.
    Fiddling while Rome burned???

  265. And it seems obvious that administering them properly would involve having an independent party give the tests, grade them and compile the results...

  266. I would suggest that, if possible, authorities also look into Catholic school districts. In Memphis, where I taught briefly, grades were changes regularly, teachers pressured to alter grades for many reasons, including so a chosen student would be named salutatorian, no IEPs for children who obviously were in dire need of such for behavioral, physical or mental reasons, and no handicap accessibility in the buildings. The fire door in the roach-infested, filthy basement called an art classroom was frozen shut (lock needed replacement) for months until a fire inspector was notified. A cafeteria was rehabbed and kids got subsidized meals, obviously thanks to gov't programs, but still the principal would insist the school did not have to abide by federal law for handicap accessibility. Teachers in public schools locally confide that students in 5th grade must write compositions but cannot be graded down on grammar, sentence structure or vocabulary. What is left to grade in a composition? Concept, it was explained. These approaches to NOT providing education does the students no favors; in fact, it is destructive to them individually and to us as a society.

  267. I am a special education teacher. Bad behavior alone is not a legitimate reason for a student to have an IEP. The student must have a recognized disability (learning, emotional, physical) to qualify for special education services.

  268. The Atlanta Journal Constitution examined test results around the country and found the same red flags indicating cheating they had discovered in Atlanta. When contacted, those communities chose to defend their testing practices, or, put another way, not confront their problems. This is a national disgrace. I applaud Atlanta for taking action on the issue.

  269. and we wonder why parents want vouchers...