The national spotlight on Atlanta’s school-cheating scandal has caused other school districts to take stock and begin taking action to prevent such widespread cheating in their schools.
When the state analyzed tests for suspiciously high numbers of erasure marks last year, it flagged nearly the same number of schools in Atlanta as it did in the entire rest of the state.
Testing leaders in districts around Georgia said that while the case for alarm in most of the state wasn’t as great, Atlanta’s crisis does provide an incentive for refining their own test security procedures and for re-training their employees.
“The issues in Atlanta have certainly created awareness in the districts to review our policies and procedures and also to ensure that we implement best practices for testing,” said Drema Jackson, who directs testing and accountability efforts in Savannah-Chatham County.
In Atlanta, investigators blamed the district for emphasizing test score gains over everything else. Jackson says her district uses test scores more as a diagnostic tool.
“We do use data to inform instruction because we want our children to be successful, not just successful on a test, we want them to be successful productive members of society,” Jackson said.
All schools in the state are required to meet certain test score targets as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law. But Atlanta set targets for schools above and beyond those required by law that investigators called unrealistically high.
Atlanta’s new interim superintendent Erroll Davis said this week he will require mandatory ethics training of all employees and have all test coordinators trained by an outside organization like the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.