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APS: No ‘concrete’ evidence of cheating on 5th-grade tests at Deerwood


Atlanta Public Schools has found no “concrete, non-statistical evidence” of cheating on fifth-grade CRCT tests last year at Deerwood Academy, according to a new investigative report.

State officials in June said evidence strongly suggested that test answers had been changed at Deerwood and several other Georgia schools. The changes dramatically improved scores for fifth-graders who could not previously pass the math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, investigators said.

An erasure analysis showed irregularities for 11 of the 32 Deerwood students taking the CRCT math retest, according to the report by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), and a disproportionate number of answers that were changed from wrong to right.

An independent analysis for APS concluded the discrepancies were the result of negligence, not fraud, attorney Penn Payne said today in a summary of her findings.

“I have concluded that the irregularities were the result of negligence in record keeping, lack of energy and diligence in following the rules, and supervisory failure, rather than being deliberate attempts to find opportunities to alter the test answers,” Payne’s report said.

Payne said GOSA would not allow her to examine the original answer sheets, so she could not evaluate the state agency’s evidence or conclusions. “Until APS personnel or I have access to the answer sheets … [there is] doubt about the reliability of the erasure analysis to indicate tampering,” her report said.

A DeKalb County principal resigned and an assistant was placed on leave in June after state officials said similar evidence showed cheating at Atherton Elementary School. Both face criminal charges.

Payne maintains an Atlanta law practice that specializes in mediation, arbitration and investigations.

Download the full report here.





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3 Responses to “APS: No ‘concrete’ evidence of cheating on 5th-grade tests at Deerwood”

  1. Tell us the truth says:

    Atlanta Unfiltered,

    Please share your expertise

    Can you explain why the PDF file containing Penn Payne’s report has been taken down from the APS website after being up less than 24 hours?

    Can you explain the timing of releasing the report late on a Friday afternoon news cycle?

    Can you speculate why the AJC editorial board has been completely silent on the cheating scandal, even when the governor’s outrage made the front page of the AJC?

  2. Jim Walls says:

    In my experience, an organization that wants minimal coverage of an announcement will call a news conference for Friday afternoon. We cynical reporters all joked about it Friday as we waited to get the report.

    Why did APS choose 4 pm Friday? I couldn’t say. Why did APS give the media just a few hours’ notice? I couldn’t say. I was told last month this report might be released the week of July 20, so that’s how long this thing has been cooking.

    I also can’t say why APS took it down. I asked for it in electronic format at 1 pm Friday and they said they weren’t making it available that way.

    As for the AJC editorial board … what editorial board? They don’t really have one anymore, as far as I can tell.

  3. John says:

    The Atlanta Public Schools have been a sad joke for a long time. As are most of our public schools in the state, AND, more than a few of our private schools.

    We don’t educate our children. We school them in procedure. Mostly, how to sit still, drop out, and, if they choose to stay, endure mediocre instruction.