Kids speak out about the impact of the cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools.
ATLANTA -- With allegations that nearly 9 out of 10 classes cheated during the CRCT's in question, it is no small irony that the character word flashing in the lighted sign at Gideons Elementary is "truthfulness."
COMPLETE COVERAGE: APS CRCT Cheating Investigation
It is a word that many of the children there took to heart. Even if investigators say their teachers did not.
"At Gideons, it made all the students feel sad," said 4th grader Armoni Howard. "We lost our principal, Mr. Salters. Everybody liked him."
In fact, Principal Armstead Salters was a much beloved and honored academician, who was credited with improving the CRCT scores at Gideons. That is until he confessed to the rampant cheating that occurred under his watch there, according to the state report on the matter.
Little Armoni said proudly that she did not cheat. And because students in her class were separated, she did not witness any student cheating.
"Mainly (the test) was easy real easy," she said. "I learned everything that was on the CRCT."
The principal announced that she had passed over the school's intercom.
It is no surprise that Armoni -- and many others like her -- did not need teachers to help them cheat. They are bright and engaging and show a remarkable empathy for the classmates who were struggling, as well as the teachers.
"It makes me kind of sad for them because they think they can't teach the children good enough, so they have to cheat," said Parks student Ali Richardson.
Ali Richardson went to both Gideons and Parks Middle, which is now known as the top school in Atlanta... for cheating.
"Some people were nervous," he said about the most recent CRCT, noting that the test was conducted by special proctors and not the school's teaching staff. "Some people were let down because they thought they weren't going to pass."
Ali says he wants to be a lawyer. For him, the CRCT was a breeze, and he holds his head up, because the scandal has not diminished his faith in his classmates.
"I was surprised (about the cheating) because they've got some intelligence up there," he said. "But sometimes they ain't trying to use it. They've got intelligence. Everybody's got intelligence."