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Cheating Inquiries Expand in Georgia

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Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced last week that he plans to appoint a special investigator to look into allegations of cheating on the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in the Atlanta and Dougherty County school districts.

Both districts had consultants investigate allegations of test-score tampering after state officials ordered the reviews, but Gov. Perdue doesn’t believe the investigations went far enough, his spokesman said.

The probe of Atlanta schools, which has produced a raft of unwelcome national headlines for Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, had been criticized as less than impartial, after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that those conducting the investigation had been in contact with Ms. Hall and the school board’s president during it.

In several media interviews, Ms. Hall has promised to deal “severely” with any employees who are determined to have participated in cheating. She recently removed the principals of 12 schools the consultant’s report said had widespread evidence of cheating. The Atlanta district’s independent investigation concluded there was reason to believe more than 100 school system employees had been involved in tampering with standardized tests.

In a statement, the 48,000-student district pledged full cooperation with Mr. Perdue’s investigation.

Gov. Perdue was also displeased with the investigation in Dougherty County, said his spokesman, Bert Brantley. The resulting report said there was no evidence of wrongdoing, but failed to explain suspicious erasure marks on tests there.

R.D. Harter, a spokesman for the 16,000-student Doughtery County schools, said the district welcomes the investigation, but has been frustrated by interactions it has had with the state.

“We don’t think the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has been supportive of a thorough investigation,” he said.

Vol. 30, Issue 01, Page 23

Published in Print: August 25, 2010, as Cheating Inquiries Expand in Georgia
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