11 former teachers convicted in Atlanta cheating scandal

Eleven of twelve former teachers charged in a massive cheating scandal in Atlanta public schools were convicted of racketeering and other crimes.  More than 20 other city school employees took plea deals. 

The scandal involved cheating on standardized tests and was instigated in order to boost the test scores of students in the 500,000-pupil school district.

CNN:

All 11 were convicted of racketeering, with a mixture of convictions and acquittals on other charges, including making false statements, CNN affiliate WGCL reported. One teacher was acquitted of all charges.

Howard told reporters sentencing should happen in the coming weeks.

In 2013, a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 educators from the district, including principals, teachers and testing coordinators.

More than 20 former school system employees took a plea deal, WGCL reported.

A state review had determined that some cheating had occurred in more than half the district's elementary and middle schools. About 180 teachers at 44 schools were implicated initially.

The cheating is believed to date back to early 2001, when scores on statewide skills tests began to turn around in the 50,000-student school district, according to the 2013 indictment.

For at least four years, between 2005 and 2009, test answers were altered, fabricated and falsely certified, the indictment said.

Michael Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general who investigated the cheating scandal said in 2013 that there were "cheating parties," erasures in and out of classrooms, and teachers were told to make changes to student answers on tests.

"Anything that you can imagine that could involve cheating -- it was done," he said at the time.

During his investigation, he heard that educators cheated out of pride, to earn bonuses, to enhance their careers or to keep their jobs, he said.

During the trial, prosecutor Fani Willis told the jury that some students were given the correct answers, CNN affiliate WSB reported.

The scandal was so huge because teachers, administrators, and principals all received big bonuses for improved test scores by students.  With that kind of incentive and the lack of improvement by students over the previous decade the prospect of cheating was almost guaranteed.

The scandal also shows how mandated tests have made public schools into places for students to learn how to test well rather than acquire knowledge.  The No Child Left Behind law should be amended to reduce the number of these tests, and get teachers back to the business of actually teaching.

Eleven of twelve former teachers charged in a massive cheating scandal in Atlanta public schools were convicted of racketeering and other crimes.  More than 20 other city school employees took plea deals. 

The scandal involved cheating on standardized tests and was instigated in order to boost the test scores of students in the 500,000-pupil school district.

CNN:

All 11 were convicted of racketeering, with a mixture of convictions and acquittals on other charges, including making false statements, CNN affiliate WGCL reported. One teacher was acquitted of all charges.

Howard told reporters sentencing should happen in the coming weeks.

In 2013, a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 educators from the district, including principals, teachers and testing coordinators.

More than 20 former school system employees took a plea deal, WGCL reported.

A state review had determined that some cheating had occurred in more than half the district's elementary and middle schools. About 180 teachers at 44 schools were implicated initially.

The cheating is believed to date back to early 2001, when scores on statewide skills tests began to turn around in the 50,000-student school district, according to the 2013 indictment.

For at least four years, between 2005 and 2009, test answers were altered, fabricated and falsely certified, the indictment said.

Michael Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general who investigated the cheating scandal said in 2013 that there were "cheating parties," erasures in and out of classrooms, and teachers were told to make changes to student answers on tests.

"Anything that you can imagine that could involve cheating -- it was done," he said at the time.

During his investigation, he heard that educators cheated out of pride, to earn bonuses, to enhance their careers or to keep their jobs, he said.

During the trial, prosecutor Fani Willis told the jury that some students were given the correct answers, CNN affiliate WSB reported.

The scandal was so huge because teachers, administrators, and principals all received big bonuses for improved test scores by students.  With that kind of incentive and the lack of improvement by students over the previous decade the prospect of cheating was almost guaranteed.

The scandal also shows how mandated tests have made public schools into places for students to learn how to test well rather than acquire knowledge.  The No Child Left Behind law should be amended to reduce the number of these tests, and get teachers back to the business of actually teaching.