Researchers quantify the impact of cheating on Atlanta students

A new study by Georgia State University tries to quantify the damage wrought by cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools, and estimates the impacts “in the range of one‐fourth to one‐half of the average annual achievement gain for a middle school student” in reading and English language arts.

The research by professor Tim R. Sass and two doctoral students — Jarod Apperson and Carycruz Bueno — was done in cooperation with Atlanta Public Schools.

Their report, "The Long‐Run Effects of Teacher Cheating on Student Outcomes," used test erasure analysis data to conclude that 7,064 students likely had their answers manipulated. Of those, more than half — 3,728 — were still at APS at the beginning of this school year.

The evidence of negative effects in math was mixed, and the researchers found little evidence that the cheating had a significant deleterious effect on either student attendance or behavior.

But the damage to performance in reading and English language arts was significant, equaling one to two times the difference in outcomes from being taught by a rookie versus a veteran during one school year, the report concluded.

“Much effort has been devoted to identifying the teachers and administrators responsible for manipulating test scores in APS and bringing those responsible to justice,” the researchers wrote. “At the same time little is known about the victims of the cheating scandal. This report represents the first attempt to rigorously analyze the impact of teacher cheating on the long‐run outcomes of students.”