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Research Paper

  1. 1. Roberts 1Megan RobertsMs. BennettBritish Literature7 October 2011 Cheaters Never Win Just imagine over 5,000 kids having all of their hard work after a school year just thrownaway because educators wanted better standard test scores or did not have enough faith in theirstudents. The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal was one of the most scandalous things tohappen in years; it changed everything forever. The CRCT is the Criterion ReferencedCompetency Test a test designed to test students in grades first through eighth. (AJC). Over 178teachers and principals were involved in this scandal. (TP). They were caught changing thestudents’ answers on the CRCT. When the scandal was being investigated not only was there a413 page report put out about it, but it also changed the lives of many educators involved. Thehigh stakes of these tests given today can bring out the worst in educators, and cause them to dothings they would not normally do. The CRCT, as stated before, is the Criterion Referenced Competency Test. (AJC). Thistest is very important because it shows a school’s Annual Yearly Progress, so it is very useful forstudents to take this test seriously; that way, the scores are accurate. (AJC) The CRCT is amultiple choice test and tests students in the following subjects: English/Language Arts, Math,Social Studies, and Science. It is used to test the skills in grades first through eighth grade. Whenstudents are scored on this, test their results are categorized into one of three areas: exceedsstandards, meets standards, or does not meet standards. Students who are in first and secondgrade, however, used to take the CRCT but in the school year 2010-2011 they did not due to
  2. 2. Roberts 2budget cuts. When students are in the third grade and they take this test, they must pass thereading portion to move on to the next grade. (AJC). Students in fifth or eighth grade must passboth the reading and math to move on to the next grade. If students fail these portions of the test,they are allowed to go to summer school or study and then take the test again. If the students faila second time, parent teacher conferences are held and then a vote is conducted by the teachingstaff on whether or not to promote the student to the next grade level. Essentially, the student canfail the test twice and still move on to the next grade. In the year 2009, 77,910 of Georgia’sthird, fifth, and eighth graders failed the CRCT, but that year only 66,642 students were actuallyheld back. It was found that 44 of the 56 schools that were investigated did actually cheat onthe CRCT. There were thirty principals and 140 teachers all together who were caught cheating.Of the 178 educators involved in the investigation, only 80 actually confessed. (AJC). Whythese teachers cheated is mystery to some, but for the teachers who were involved there weremany different aspects they had to look at while the cheating was going on. (ATPS). Someteachers were threatened that if they did not cheat or change their scores, they would be fired. Inthis economy, it is hard for people to find jobs even if they have a good education. Teacherswould hold “cheating parties,” which involved groups of teachers meeting up at one house andthrowing parties while they changed answers on the test. What some teachers did not realize isthat being fired for not changing the answers is actually not as bad as actually changing theanswers. Educators who were involved in this scandal face many different obstacles in the future.They will have difficulty locating future employment in their field and their current certificationsand background education will serve no benefit. (AJC). It is obvious that the educators involvedin this scandal did not contemplate the possible repercussions of their actions.
  3. 3. Roberts 3 This investigation took months, but when investigators were finally finished theypublished a 413 page report about it. This report is available for everyone to see over theinternet. It also has three volumes to it, each one describing in detail everything that happenedwith the investigation. Volume one has 24 sections to it. (AJC). This volume it states that AtlantaPublic Schools superintendent, Beverly Hall, as well as her staff, should have known or didknow about the cheating and other offenses going on right underneath their noses. Hall steppeddown in June and still says she had nothing to do with the cheating, but apologized for anymeasures she failed to take. Also all awards or praise the Atlanta Public School System receivedfor the good grades made on the tests will now be taken away or just not count. (AJC). Also involume one, fifteen different elementary and middle schools are listed. With each school that islisted, the report gives statistics and summaries about the cheating that went on. For example,East Lake Elementary School is a school listed; it shows the statistics from 2009 and 2010 abouthow many erasure marks were made on the CRCT in each class. Also given in the report is a listof names and classrooms that were flagged as cheaters on the CRCT. (ATPS). Volume twoconsists of more elementary and middle schools that were caught cheating. There are around 35to 40 schools just in this volume that investigators talk about. Each of these schools is one of themany that investigators researched and accused of cheating. The last section in this volume hasto do with the percentage of the Atlanta Public Schools that were involved in the cheatingscandal. Volume three is the last volume of the report. This volume consists of twelve sections;one section answers many of the main questions people asked. The main questions being whywould this cheating occur? The answers vary, but what is certain for most is that there was atremendous amount of pressure put on these teachers to meet their targets. Not just the teachersbut the principals as well, were all pressured to meet the targets so that they could get the
  4. 4. Roberts 4recognition they feel they deserved. For most educators this “target” was the main motivationfor them to change answers. Dr. Hall put most of the pressure on her educators by saying, “ifscores do not improve in three years you will be replaced.” Educators hearing this and knowingthis did whatever they could to keep their jobs. (AJC). Dr. Hall did replace ninety percent of theprincipals in the school system. The main message that all new principals put out was to meetyour targets no matter what you have to do, this meant cheating for some teachers. (AJC). Oneof the sections in this volume has to do with the test security; they mention what strategies theyused to determine if cheating did go on. Test security looked at the percentage of how manywrong to correct ones were changed; also they looked at the abnormally high erasure marks thatwere on the tests. (AJC). The conclusion to this last and final volume talks about the findings ofthe total investigation. Some findings that were determined are that 78.6% of Atlanta PublicSchools were found to have cheated. Out of the 56 Atlanta Public Schools, 67.9% were found tohave direct involvement with all of the cheating that went on at their school. Six principals whowere found guilty pled the Fifth Amendment, which is “no person may be compelled to testifyagainst himself and that no person may be tried for a second time on a charge for which he hasalready been acquitted.” Dr. Hall was also mentioned in the conclusion; it was found that Dr.Hall was guilty of receiving numerous reports of cheating from a variety of schools, and hidthem or covered them up. To conclude this volume is a paragraph about Dr. Hall and how sheknew what was going on and was not enforcing any laws that should have been enforced so thatcheating would not have occurred. The educators involved in the cheating scandal received a letter stating they couldeither resign or be fired. This letter was sent to all 178 educators involved in the cheatingscandal. After being given this letter, the educators only had a number of days to make their
  5. 5. Roberts 5decisions. Two days after the letter was sent out only two educators made their decision, anddecided to step down from their position. (AJC). Other educators were fired and stripped of theirtitles as principals or teachers. Educators who were forced to change answers or felt forced andpressured by their superintendent were not as severely punished as educators who changed theanswers by themselves. Educators now have been stripped of everything; their licenses, theirclassrooms, and anything that was important. Educators have had to find other ways to earnmoney rather than teaching. The cheating scandal was one of the biggest things to ever happen to the AtlantaPublic School System. The CRCT is a test testing the skills of students and it is given only inGeorgia. The number of schools involved in the cheating scandal was over a third of the schoolsin the Atlanta Public School System. Educators changed their lives by making this decision tochange their students’ answers. Children from now on will never be the same; things havechanged and will be changed from now on.