Dear Community Member,
Tuesday we received the state CRCT investigatory report from Governor Nathan Deal. After reviewing the report findings, I am outraged that some of our employees short changed our students by manipulating test data on the 2009 CRCT. I am angered that our students and parents were misled by faulty test scores that misrepresented students’ proficiency, thus depriving them of the support that they needed and deserved. I am appalled by the total failure of leadership across all levels. We - students, parents, employees and community members - have all been duped. Providing a quality education to all of our students is the only priority of APS, and anyone who has compromised our ability to do so will be dealt with swiftly and severely.
The findings in the report are sobering. Based on the findings of the report, state investigators uncovered cheating in 44 of the 56 schools that were examined. Thirty eight principals of 56 examined schools were found to be responsible for or directly involved in cheating. In total, 178 teachers and principals were found to have cheated. This is unacceptable, and I have absolutely no tolerance for people who commit these types of acts. I assure you that all individuals that have brought discredit upon this wonderful system will be held accountable.
To address the issues outlined in the report, I will initiate a number of changes in our organization. Action will be initiated against all employees identified as committing testing improprieties. I will also mandate that all employees successfully complete annual ethics training. I am moving the APS Office of Internal Resolution (OIR) from Human Resources to Internal Audits, which reports directly to the Atlanta Board of Education. I am requiring the Office of Research, Planning and Accountability (RPA) to set trigger points that will result in automatic investigations of schools whose test scores increase by a larger-than-normal percentage. A climate survey will be conducted to periodically assess the organizational culture of our schools and departments. This will be an opportunity for you to point out any concerns you have with this system. Finally, the district’s Department of Strategy and Development will make customer service and student support key measures on the balanced scorecard to ensure that we are responsive to the students and parents that we serve. These actions are only a few of the changes that I will make. I plan to issue a detailed action plan in response to the state CRCT investigation report that will be based on an extensive and thorough review of the findings.
Education is a special calling for those who truly care about children and the importance of providing them with a solid, well-rounded education. Cheating hurts children because it obscures a student’s real academic standing, thus depriving some students of the additional instruction and learning support they may need to succeed in school, college and life. I do not accept the contention that setting challenging academic goals that some may have believed were too difficult to reach caused educators to cheat. We expect our employees to perform at the highest levels within defined ethical, financial, legal and environmental boundaries. Clearly, the behavior of some employees as described in the state report crosses those boundaries.
Rest assured that we will correct any remaining deficiencies in the testing area, while moving forward with our existing urban education reform programs and implementing others as required so that we can foster genuine student academic achievement throughout the district.
Thank you for your support and understanding as we deal with the difficult issues before us. Please join me in supporting our students, our staff and our school board as we work to provide the best education possible for Atlanta’s children.
Erroll B. Davis, Jr.
Atlanta Public Schools