Years of digging by the AJC

The story so far:

Suspicious scores

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigative reporters broke the story about widespread cheating on tests in Atlanta Public Schools in 2008, and we’ve continued digging ever since.

2008

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzes scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test and finds what appear to be unusual score changes at several area schools. APS teachers and others begin alleging extensive cheating. Superintendent Beverly Hall, a nationally known education innovator who built her reputation on improved APS scores, dismisses the possibility of cheating. APS responds that it had no plans to investigate.

2009

A computer analysis developed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution flags schools with unusual changes in test scores. In the case of some schools, the odds of improvement by chance were greater than a billion to one against. Because of the AJC’s reporting, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement calls for an erasure analysis on all CRCT answer sheets. Hall announces that national experts will review test scores at schools that recorded extraordinary improvements.

Evidence of widespread cheating

About 180 educators were accused of cheating after our reports triggered a state investigation. Our commitment to bringing you complete coverage continues with today’s report.

2010

The state analysis flags 58 Atlanta schools for excessive erasures and orders APS to investigate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s continuing investigation reports that the gain in test scores and graduation rates claimed by Hall are illusions. In the summer, the district’s appointed commission finds that widespread cheating was limited to 12 schools. Gov. Sonny Perdue orders his own investigation. Hall announces that she will retire the following summer.

2011

The state investigators gather evidence, interviewing scores of APS teachers, administrators and staff. In July, Perdue’s successor, Gov. Nathan Deal, releases the results — an 800-page report saying that close to 200 educators cheated on the CRCT at 44 schools. Errol Davis, former chancellor of the University System of Georgia, takes over as APS superintendent with a vow that no one who cheated on tests will be allowed in front of Atlanta schoolchildren again, as APS pursues the process of firing teachers and administrators suspected of cheating,

The fallout

Educators and officials have been implicated in a series of investigations in the past four years. On Friday, the first indictments were delivered — against 35 educators linked to the scandal.

2012

APS officials tell implicated educators that they have one day to resign or face firing. In March, the Atlanta school district begins holding disciplinary tribunals for educators accused of cheating who wanted to appeal their dismissals. In the spring, the AJC investigative team reports that 196 districts throughout the U.S. exhibit suspicious patterns of test scores that, in Atlanta, indicated cheating. In December, the Atlanta school board votes 7-2 to renew Davis’ contract.

2013

Of the 178 people implicated in the state investigative report, 21 educators have been reinstated and three people are still awaiting tribunal appeals. About 150 educators resigned, retired or lost their appeals to keep their jobs. On Friday, a Fulton County grand jury issued indictments against Beverly Hall and 34 others on charges of racketeering, theft by taking, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and false statements in connection with the cheating scandal.

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