Certificates Revoked in Atlanta Cheating Scandal

Georgia’s Professional Standards Commission has issued punishments to 11 educators implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Eight teachers received a two-year suspension of their teaching certificates, reports WXIA-TV at USA Today.

Each of the 11 will receive a formal letter from the commission next week outlining the moves against them and giving each educator 30 days to respond.

The names of the educators have not been disclosed.

If the educator chooses to not appeal, that educator’s name and full record then becomes public. If the person chooses to appeal against the verdict, the name would not be revealed until the Georgia Attorney General’s Office assigns a judge to the case.

The Professional Standards Commission, which is responsible for teacher licensing statewide, is looking at nearly 200 cases in connection with the Atlanta schools’ cheating scandal — including the system’s former superintendent Beverly Hall, reports USA Today.

The decisions issued are the first cases under review, according to commission spokesman Rick Eiserman. The commission expects to hear more cases at meetings through from now to January.

About 180 Atlanta Public Schools employees were implicated in the scandal after a state investigation revealed cheating in nearly half of the district’s 100 schools.

USA Today last March examined standardized test scores at District of Columbia schools and found 103 public schools with high erasure rates on penciled-in answer sheets. An investigation is underway, writes Greg Toppo at USA Today.

Evidence of test tampering also appeared in six states besides Georgia and Maryland, including California, Florida and Ohio.

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue initiated the current probe last August, finding that the district’s investigation of suspicious erasures in 58 schools was “woefully inadequate.”

The Georgia report called test-tampering “an open secret.”

Atlanta school board chairwoman Brenda Muhammad told WXIA-TV in Atlanta that the district would work to get rid of educators who were found to have cheated. “We need to ensure that they’re never in front of children again.”

Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the scandal is:

“[T]he predictable effect of some policymakers’ obsession with high-stakes testing,” but added that other educators practice “an enlightened version of accountability” that doesn’t put unreasonable pressure on schools.

However, with budgets shrinking, he notes:

“Enlightened, supportive ways of raising test scores cost more money. But threatening a principal over his or her job is a way to enforce accountability on the cheap.”