A total of 35 Atlanta teachers are expected to turn themselves in today on charges that of racketeering that could put them in jail for up to 20 years. They are alleged to have been involved in a massive effort to inflate their students’ scores on standardized tests.
Nearly 200 educators admitted to taking part in the massive scandal: they tampered with students’ standardized tests and corrected answers to inflate scores. Some teachers had pizza parties to erase wrong answers and circle in the right ones. One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.
At one middle school, 86 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, compared to 24 percent the year before. Prosecutors say that progress was a criminal mirage.
“The four principle crimes that are charged in the indictment are the statements and writings, false swearings, theft by taking, and influencing witnesses,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. said.
Beverly Hall is Atlanta’s retired school superintendent. Her system’s turnaround won her national fame, awards, and more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. But investigators say she pressured teachers and principals to cheat, and punished those who refused. Hall, among those indicted, has denied the charges. A grand jury recommended her bail be set at $7.5 million.
CBS notes the poignant story of Nybria Collins, a student who despite struggling with reading throughout the school year, aced her standardized test. She is now a ninth-grader who reads at a fifth-grade level.