Fear, intimidation used to get teachers to cheat, report says - CBS46 News

Fear, intimidation used to get teachers to cheat, report says

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Gov. Nathan Deal has released the full report on a 10-month investigation into allegations of widespread cheating by educators in the Atlanta school district.

The 800-page report, obtained by CBS Atlanta News through an open-records request, provides evidence of widespread cheating in Atlanta schools that spanned the last decade.

According to the report, investigators found that 178 teachers and principals cheated on standardized tests to make it appear that student test scores were improving.

"We found cheating in 44 of the 56 schools we examined," said Deal.

Parks Middle School is named in the report as the worst example of widespread cheating.

Investigators found that at Parks, the percentage of eighth-graders exceeding expectations rose from 1 percent to 46 percent in one year.

In an audit of the 2009 CRCT, 89 percent of classrooms at Parks were flagged by the state for possible cheating. Several teachers there have confessed to changing test scores and providing students' answers.

According to the report, now former Superintendent Beverly Hall should have known principal Christopher Waller was cheating at Parks because "once he became principal, the school immediately made dramatic gains on the CRCT and other tests." Instead, APS publicly praised the principal and the school for its achievements, the report said.

State investigators said at Fain Elementary, the principal forced a teacher to crawl under a table in a faculty meeting because that teacher's students' test scores were low.

At Gideons Elementary school, according to the report, four educators admitted that they met at a home in Douglas County one weekend for a "changing party," changing students' wrong answers to right.

And at Perkerson Elementary School, one teacher told investigators she was surprised to learn that one student, who sat under a table during the test, then randomly filled in answers, still passed. Investigators learned that several students passed first grade reading at Perkerson but are now struggling to read in the third grade.

Of the 178 educators named in the report, 38 are school principals.

Six of the 38 principals refused to answer investigators' questions, Deal said.

"I think the overall conclusion was that testing and results and targets being reached became more important than actual learning on the part of children," Deal said.

During the investigation, 82 educators confessed to wrongdoing, Deal said.

In August, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed special investigators to look into the cheating allegations at dozens of Atlanta schools. Their findings could lead to criminal charges.

Deal said it's now up to prosecutors to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

Georgia attorney general Sam Olens said his office will not pursue criminal charges in this case. Prosecutors in Fulton and Douglas counties said they are going over the report to determine what action will be taken. The DeKalb county district attorney declined to comment on the APS report.

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