A national scandal hit the news this summer when the Governor of Georgia released a 413-page report describing widespread cheating by Atlanta public school teachers and principals on standardized tests in order to falsely report that their schools were doing a good job. The purpose was to report that the kids were improving so that the district would qualify for federal funds. 178 teachers and 38 principals, 82 of whom have already confessed, fraudulently raised test scores by various methods, such as erasing wrong answers on tests and inserting correct answers. The truth came out from a 10-month inquiry by 60 investigators conducting 2,100 interviews. The investigation showed that principals and teachers in 56 schools had been cheating for the last ten years.
The false high scores of Atlanta schoolchildren enabled Superintendent Beverly L. Hall to collect $600,000 in performance bonuses over 10 years to supplement her $400,000-a-year salary. Two national organizations honored her with the title of Superintendent of the Year.
According to the report, Superintendent Hall and her top staff "created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation," and the cheating was concealed by "a conspiracy of silence," that allowed "cheating--at all levels--to go unchecked for years." Those who dared to report their concerns about cheating "were held in contempt and punished," sometimes by being fired. The Superintendent's message was: Get the scores up by any means necessary. Teachers and principals were afraid of being verbally abused and sanctioned for failing to achieve the "required results." Her own words were: "No exceptions and no excuses." This is clearly one of the most shocking stories about the bad behavior of public school teachers and administrators that we've ever heard about.
Listen to the radio commentary here: