Gov. Nathan Deal (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Bob Andres)
An investigation by the state of Georgia found that almost 80 percent of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) lied on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). According to the Georgia Department of Education, the test is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge tested in Georgia’s required standardized tests. The CRCT report summary says that 178 teachers and principals took part in the cheating. Of them, 82 confessed to misconduct and six principals pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
The report alleges that teachers were pressured to meet “targets” of achievement. Of the teachers interviewed, they said that the targets were set at unreasonable levels and failure to meet them ended in professional humiliation and job termination.
"Fear of termination and public ridicule in faculty and principals' meetings drove numerous educators to cross ethical lines," the report said. "Further, because targets rose annually, teachers found it increasingly difficult to achieve them."
The report also noted that cheating had been occurring since 2001 and that “a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in APS, which created a conspiracy of silence and deniability with respect to standardized test misconduct.” They also state that the statistics were “overwhelming” and there is no other conclusion but “widespread cheating in APS.”
Therefore, many criticized the governor’s decision to investigate the allegations saying that it would only hurt a school system where three-quarters of the students are not only Black, but poor as well.
"There were a lot of people who thought this was a witch hunt, that Gov. Perdue was doing this because he didn't believe poor African-American children could learn," Bert Brantley, the governor’s former spokesman, said in a statement. "But his point was that it's the people who were doing the cheating who don't believe kids can achieve, because they're not letting them do it on their own, they're changing answers because they don't believe it's possible."
Now that these statistics have been revealed, it’s time to get Atlanta the resources it needs to make our students competitive so that teachers will not have to lie.