John Barge was working in Bartow County Schools when a high school student had a panic attack trying to pass the graduation test and a fourth-grader became so stressed taking the CRCT he drew blood stabbing his arm with a pencil.
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Excerpts from the APS indictments
“While Superintendent of APS, Beverly Hall set annual performance objectives for APS and the individual schools within it, commonly referred to as ‘targets.’ If a school achieved 70 percent or more of its targets all employees of the school received a bonus. Additionally, if certain system-wide targets were achieved, Beverly Hall herself received a substantial bonus. Targets for elementary and middle schools were largely based on student performance on the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), a standardized test given annually to elementary and middle school students in Georgia …
“APS principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated. When principals and teachers could not reach their targets, their performance was criticized, their jobs were threatened and some were terminated. Over time, the unreasonable pressure to meet annual APS targets led some employees to cheat on the CRCT. The refusal of Beverly Hall and her top administrators to accept anything other than satisfying targets created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.
“To satisfy annual targets and AYP, test answer sheets were altered, fabricated, and falsely certified. Test scores that were inflated as a result of cheating were purported to be the actual achievement of targets through legitimately obtained improvements in students’ performance when in fact, the conspirators knew those results had been obtained through cheating and did not reflect students’ actual academic performance.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s team of investigative reporters broke the story about suspicious standardized test scores and possible cheating in Atlanta Public Schools in 2008.
Our commitment to bringing you complete coverage continues with today’s report on calls by some eductors and others for a national debate on how high-stakes tests are used.
For bonus coverage, including an interactive timeline, go to MyAJC.com.