To the Editor:
The facts cry out for a response to Beverly Hall’s Commentary (“The Scandal Is Not the Whole Story,” edweek.org, Aug. 10, 2011; Education Week, Aug. 24, 2011).
Ms. Hall stated: “The results of the standardized tests administered in 2010 and 2011 under this enhanced security have not been questioned—and most important of all—the dramatic improvement in test scores has remained.” That is false. The executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, Kathleen Mathers, identified 16 Atlanta elementary schools for possible cheating on the 2010 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCTs. Thirteen of these schools had already been identified for their 2009 cheating. The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement is performing its erasure analysis on the 2011 CRCT tests. Thus far, five schools registered unlikely increases in their 2011 CRCT test scores.
The 413-page state investigative report cited Ms. Hall for “falsifying, misrepresenting, or erroneously reporting the evaluation of students to the state department of education,” and for failing to investigate allegations of cheating. The district attorney, Paul Howard, and a grand jury are now pursuing a criminal investigation that could involve Dr. Hall and others for their roles in the 2009 CRCT cheating scandal involving thousands of wrong-to-right erasures.
Thousands of Atlanta schoolchildren were harmed by this systemic cheating during Dr. Hall’s 10-year administration. These children were promoted into grades in which they were simply unqualified. The result was frustration and shame, with a shocking number dropping out. The high dropout rate prevailed from 2001 to 2010, with dropouts leading lives of poverty, destitution, and crime, directly attributable to what the state investigation described as Ms. Hall’s “culture of fear and conspiracy of silence.”
John S. Sherman
Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation
Editor’s note: Education Week has removed Beverly Hall’s statement that no questions have been raised about recent test results from her online Commentary. The statement did not appear in the print edition of the Commentary.
A version of this article appeared in the August 31, 2011 edition of Education Week as Hall Commentary ‘Cries Out’ for Response