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Friday, February 19, 2010 - 11:26am

School Chief Supports Bill to Criminalize Test Cheating

Governor Perdue’s bills to make cheating on state academic tests a crime has the support of the state’s superintendent of schools.

HB 1111 and 1121 would make altering test scores a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $1000 fine and loss of any pension.

They were introduced just a week after an audit from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement found 10 percent of Georgia’s public elementary and middle schools had a high number of suspicious erasures on last year’s state tests.

That audit was issued after four schools tampered with 2008 test scores.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox says the bills to criminalize tampering could act as a deterrent.

“I support the bill, I do. I think we have to send a very clear message that we’re not going to tolerate adults falsifying documents and tampering with data and hurting kids.”

Jeff Hubbard with Georgia Association of Educators says that’s too harsh, and cheaters already face stiff reprimand.

“If the Professional Standards Commission decides to revoke your license or pull it away, your career is basically over and we think that’s punishment enough.”

A law that prohibits tampering with a state document was used to punish two administrators who changed CRCT test scores in their schools in 2008

Several GOP leaders have also expressed concern over the bills.