School Climate & Safety

A Movie Based on the Atlanta Test-Cheating Scandal Is in the Works

By Corey Mitchell — November 02, 2015 1 min read
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The drama behind the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal could soon be headed to the big screen.

The New York Times reports that actor Michael B. Jordan will portray a teacher caught up in the city’s testing scandal in a major motion picture. The case evolved into what experts think is the longest and most complex academic misconduct case in U.S. history.

The detail was buried deep in the Times’ October profile of Jordan, the star of “Creed,” the latest installment in Sylvester Stallone’s famed “Rocky” boxing series.

According to the newspaper, Jordan will team up with director Ryan Coogler for the project. The two worked together on “Creed” and an earlier film, “Fruitvale Station,” based on the events surrounding the death of Oscar Grant, a young, black man killed by a transit police officer in Oakland, Calif, in 2009.

The project is still in the early stages of development, but Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Maureen Downey predicts “Wrong Answer” will be based on a 2014 New Yorker magazine story of the same name. The New Yorker piece profiled middle school math teacher Damany Lewis, painting a somewhat sympathetic, yet complex picture of the first teacher who was fired as a result of the scandal.

The Journal Constitution helped expose and broke news of the cheating scandal while investigating abnormally high increases in Atlanta’s state test scores. Though she doubts the paper’s work will play a major role in the movie, Downey made some casting suggestions just in case the AJC’s investigative reporting team gets its star turn.

The scandal and resulting criminal trial attracted widespread media attention. Here’s a link to some of Education Week’s coverage.

This past spring, jurors in Fulton County, Ga., found 11 former educators guilty of conspiring to artificially inflate test scores by changing answers or guiding students to fill in the correct responses on a 2009 state test. Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced nine of the defendants to prison terms of one to three years, but they remain free on appeal. Two educators took offers in exchange for admitting to their crimes and were sentenced to probation.

Lewis was not among those convicted or sentenced.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.