How Teachers Began Cheating On Their Standardized Tests

After more than two thousand interviews, the investigators concluded that forty-four schools had cheated and that a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation has infested the district, allowing cheating—at all levels—to go unchecked for years.” They wrote that data had been “used as an abusive and cruel weapon to embarrass and punish.” Several teachers had been told that they had a choice: either make targets or be placed on a Performance Development Plan, which was often a precursor to termination. At one elementary school, during a faculty meeting, a principal forced a teacher whose students had tested poorly to crawl under the table.

The investigators’ report didn’t conclude that Hall had directed anyone to cheat, but it did recount a number of episodes in which she ignored or minimized evidence that scores had been falsely achieved. In one instance, her staff had ordered an administrator to shred a draft of a report that described cheating at an elementary school.

-Rachel Aviv, in The New Yorker, on how teachers in Atlanta began cheating on their standardized tests.

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