Gov. Deal has released two volumes of investigatory reporting by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement into CRCT cheating in the Dougherty County School System. Deal released the following statement:
“There is nothing more important to the future of our state than ensuring that today’s students receive a first-class education,” said Deal. “The findings out of Dougherty County are alarming as they paint a tragic picture of children passed through with no real or fair assessment of their abilities. To cheat a child out of his or her ability to truly excel in the classroom shames the district and the state. We’ll now send the results to the Professional Standards Committee and to the Dougherty County district attorney’s office. It is my hope that brighter days are ahead for the children affected by this unfortunate situation.”
The introduction to the report is a scathing indictment of the problems encountered.
The disgraceful situation we found in the Dougherty County School System (DCSS) is a tragedy, sadly illustrated by a comment made by a teacher who said that her fifth grade students could not read, yet did well on the Criterion- Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).
This incredible statement from a teacher in a school where the principal flatly refused to cooperate with our investigation is indicative of what we found in many of the schools we visited.
To our amazement, this top-level administrator would not even answer questions about how she mishandled her duties as the person who is most responsible, at that school, for overseeing all testing activity.
Another school principal, whose salary was over $90,000 per year, allowed her family to falsely claim that they were eligible for a federally-funded free lunch each school day, even though official guidelines required the annual income to be no more than $24,089.
Yet another principal, with regard to our interviews, told a teacher: “Don’t you tell them anything, you hear?”
Notwithstanding these examples of misconduct, there are skilled, dedicated and well-meaning educators in this school system. But their work is often overshadowed by an acceptance of wrongdoing and a pattern of incompetence that is a blight on the community that will feel its effects for generations to come. This is the Dougherty County School System.
Kudos to the reporters and editors at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who first brought to light questions about suspicious gains in the Atlanta public school system, and which prompted the state’s wider-ranging investigations. This is an example of why a great city and state require great independent media.