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One year later: A look back on the APS CRCT cheating investigation

9:32 AM, Jul 6, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The common themes throughout last year's special state report on CRCT cheating within Atlanta Public Schools were ethics and the lack of security measures to stop those who didn't have them.

The district says both, and many other issues, have been addressed in the past 12 months. As for security, the district says tests arrived shrink wrapped with a tamper resistant seal. They are now kept in a locked safe room at each school, and it takes a key and an assigned access code to get to them.

As for the 178 identified in the report for involvement in the cheating scandal, the district says 127 have quit. Ten had dismissal hearings and were fired. One teacher was acquitted and 12 others were reinstated for insufficient evidence. That leaves about 30 people still on paid leave waiting for a hearing. The district has hearings scheduled through August, but says it will take until the end of the year to resolve all of the cases.

The district promised to help students harmed by the cheating scandal. For six weeks, nearly 5,500 students received special tutoring before or after school and on Saturdays. The experience helped create a program that is now offered to any low performing student.

School board chairman Reuben McDaniel says some of the biggest changes he's seen are transparency in the district's actions and parental involvement.

"If we get a better culture out of this going forward, if we get more focus, the Saturday school program, we can look and point to some benefits," McDaniel said.

Out of the scandal, the state did get a new law. Instead of costly litigation in hopes of getting former Superintendent Beverly Hall and other educators to pay back their performance bonuses, the governor signed into law a measure that would require those found guilty of similar acts in the future to repay it.

Superintendent Erroll Davis wouldn't talk with 11Alive News Thursday about the anniversary, but he did post a letter on the district's website promising to continue promoting a shift in culture. "Despite policies and procedures put in place to make cheating and other improprieties more difficult, it is much more effective to have ethical employees who would never get involved in wrongdoing regardless of the opportunity to do so because their values and the district's culture doesn't condone it," Davis wrote. 

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