By John S. Sherman

John S. Sherman

Can the readers of the Buckhead Reporter imagine 256,779 wrong-to-right erasures in 58 Atlanta schools on the state achievement tests (CRCT) for Grades 1-8 in 2009?

The magnitude of the number startles the mind. Yet, this is the number reported by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement on Feb. 10.

After more than six months, the Atlanta Public Schools completed its “investigation” on Aug. 2, an “investigation” which found “more than half the 58 schools did not show significant anomalies and only 12 Atlanta schools had statistical evidence of a school-wide problem.”

The Taxpayers Foundation has found facts – reported to the foundation by teachers and principals – that belie the report of the investigation panel:

  • The superintendent, Dr. Beverly Hall, arranged for a representative of her office to be present at each of the interviews with suspected teachers and principals. This constituted intimidation of witnesses.
  • The chairman of the investigation panel, Gary Price of PricewaterhouseCoopers, does business with Atlanta Public Schools and has recently said “Superintendent Hall is a reformer whose efforts are good for business.” Another member of the panel, John Rice of General Electric, also does business with APS and has recently said “GE remains committed to Superintendent Hall.” Four other members of the investigation panel were part of the 2009 Board of EduPAC – funded by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce – and a strong advocate for Superintendent Hall.
  • APS has been previously cited by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for cheating in prior years. A retired administrator at APS informs the Taxpayers Foundation that he well remembers massive wrong-to-right erasures in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, prior to his retirement.
  • The investigation panel looked for suspicious increases in CRCT scores between 2008 and 2009. However, if the massive cheating occurred in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, there could not have been suspicious increases. However, the 2010 CRCT tests – carefully monitored by the state – showed significant decreases in 53 of the 58 schools cited.
  • In the best interests of the students, the parents, and the taxpayers, the Taxpayers Foundation urges Gov. Sonny Perdue to immediately authorize a forensic audit by the State Department of Audits.
  • In addition, the superintendent and her senior staff should resign or be fired by the Atlanta Board of Education. It is the superintendent and her senior staff who created the “Culture of Cheating” and it is the obligation of the Atlanta Board of Education to stop this “Culture of Cheating.”

John Sherman is the president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation.