Gov. Sonny Perdue questioned Thursday whether a test security firm hired to help investigate 58 Atlanta Public Schools for alleged cheating on state tests may have deliberately narrowed its search for wrongdoing -- a key concern to his decision this week to appoint a special investigator to broaden that probe.
Results of the local investigation were released Aug. 2, but Perdue said he had concerns as far back as June that a commission set up to lead Atlanta's investigation may have gotten off the tracks. The local report that commission produced used a different data analysis than the state. It found widespread problems at 12 schools and limited problems at another 13. But it said the 33 remaining schools appeared relatively clear.
"They triaged here in these 12 schools," Perdue said during a meeting with the editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I wonder if they were given instructions to constrain and confine this investigation instead of complete it."
Both the chairman of the Atlanta commission that oversaw the local investigation, as well as the president of Caveon Test Security, the firm that did the second analysis, said there was no effort to limit the work.
Perdue's comments came as Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall said she wished the state had handled the initial investigation. In an earlier meeting with the AJC editorial board, Hall welcomed Perdue's decision to appoint the special investigator. He has said he did so after the results from the local probe came back as "incomplete."
"We need to find out what happened," Hall said. "My attitude is give them everything we have" to support the state inquiry.
About the Author