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11 Atlanta Educators Found Guilty in Test Cheating Scandal

11 Atlanta Educators Found Guilty in Test Cheating Scandal

A jury recently found 11 of 12 former Atlanta Public School teachers and administrators guilty of participating in a test cheating scandal back in 2008.

The grand jury "indicted 35 educators in March 2013 on a 65-count indictment that alleged a conspiracy to cover up poor performance by Atlanta public school students on statewide standardized tests. Charges included conspiracy, racketeering, theft by taking, influencing witnesses and making false statements," according to an article on USAToday.com.

"Many reached plea agreements with prosecutors — receiving probation, fines and community service," the article said. "Only one of the 12 former educators on trial was acquitted of the racketeering charge; verdicts on the theft and false statements charges were mixed. The educators said they faced pressure from supervisors — including former superintendent Beverly Hall — to inflate students' scores to show gains in student achievement."

According to the article, "the jurors deliberated for nearly eight days after listening to more than six months of testimony."

"This has been a long, long, long journey," said Judge Jerry Baxter before the verdict was read, in the article. "I know everyone here probably has emotions they can't describe. I know I do. But I want to tell you — I've been down here 42 years ... and I've never seen a jury that was more diligent. Whatever your verdict is, I'll defend it until I die."

The article said that "the scandal dates back to 2008 when a dozen schools posted high gains over the previous year's standardized tests. In 2009, a state investigation found 'overwhelming' evidence of cheating at several schools. Hall denied the accusations."

"In 2010, a bipartisan blue ribbon commission found 'severe to moderate levels of cheating' at dozens of Atlanta elementary schools," the article continued. "An investigation by the governor's office in 2011 uncovered widespread problems on state exams that were used to determine whether schools met the federal No Child Left Behind law, with ties to extra funding."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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