Saturday, February 13, 2010

CRCT cheating details revealed - “I want you to call the answers to me”

Trust. That's the thing we ask for the most for our teachers, school staff, Board of Education members and superintendent. We trust them with our children. We trust them with 70% of our property taxes. We trust them to provide safe and well functioning school buildings.

Our trust was breached with the Atherton CRCT test cheating scandal. The decision of then Atherton Principal James Berry and Asst. Principal Dorothea Alexander to change test scores was an act of such reckless, unethical gall, not only did they deserve to be fired, they should be permanently banned as educators in the State of Georgia. But how did our Superintendent Crawford Lewis initially react? He quickly sent out a memo to all DCSS employees asking "the entire system to reach out to Dr. Berry and Mrs. Alexander and show your support".

Lewis failed to mention that both Principal James Berry and Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander at first DENIED changing test scores. Only after the investigation went public did they admit to their heinous actions. Lewis' memo shows he was more concerned about the scandal reaching the public and the District Attorney investigation: "As Superintendent, I was both concerned and surprised that this investigation was elevated to the front page of Sunday's AJC newspaper and warranted a probe by the District Attorney's office."

Read Lewis' memo carefully. He does not write that all DCSS employees should be held accountable to high ethical and moral standards, that cheating is never, ever acceptable, and that any form of cheating breaks the trust that students, parents and taxpayers should have for the school system. WIth all of the major errors in judgement by Superintendent Lewis over the past few years ($14 mil for Heery Mitchell lawsuit, the Pat Pope situation, the California trip, the $500k for Judge Thelma Moore, the addition of scores of unneeded administrator positions, his questionable gasoline purchases, the bait and switch of Arabia Mountain High School first for overcrowding but then changed to a magnet, etc., etc.), his support of a principal and asst. principal who knowingly changed test scores may be his biggest error in judgement.

CRCT cheating details revealed

By Kristina Torres
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

On a late June day two years ago, two DeKalb County school administrators panicked. A few dozen of their elementary school students had just finished high-stakes summer retests — exams first taken in spring but not passed. With just a glance at the answer sheets, Atherton Elementary School Principal James Berry and Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander saw they were in trouble. “We cannot not make AYP,” Alexander said. Not making AYP, or adequate yearly progress, meant not meeting a required federal benchmark. These students, all fifth-graders, also faced being held back if they did not pass. “OK,” Berry answered. He pulled a pencil from a cup on Alexander’s desk. “I want you to call the answers to me.” With that, he began to erase the students’ answers.

State officials announced Wednesday that 191 schools — 10 percent of Georgia’s public elementary and middle schools — will be investigated for possible cheating on state tests. It was the second time in as many years that the state’s testing program has come under fire. The first was last year, when Berry and Alexander got swept up in a groundbreaking audit by the state that included an “erasure analysis” of student answer sheets. In the subsequent scandal, officials found tampering at three other elementary schools besides Atherton, including those in Atlanta and Fulton and Glynn counties.

The state sanctioned 13 educators, banning them from its public schools for at least 90 days. None of those cases, however, was resolved as fast as Berry’s and Alexander’s. Both were the first to be investigated and both received among the harshest penalties. The state banned Alexander for a year; Berry’s ban lasts for two years, the harshest sanction the state imposed. Neither appealed. Now, their case files are public. Obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under Georgia’s Open Records Act, the files reveal details for the first time how Berry and Alexander cheated — and how cheating may have occurred in other schools. Both Berry and Alexander signed affidavits. Berry admits to erasing and replacing answers; Alexander says she called out the correct answers to Berry but did not personally alter tests. Both also initially denied that they had knowledge of improper activity during the administration of the tests at their school, according to the files.

Berry’s attorney, Jackie Patterson, said Berry acted out of a misguided belief that he was helping his students. “He acknowledges he made a major mistake,” Patterson said. Neither Alexander nor her attorney, Don Samuel, returned calls for comment.

Denials, then confessions.

According to the files, both “adamantly denied” to state investigators that they cheated or knew of any irregularities. Only after the state made its findings public the following June did both confess to DeKalb school officials. DeKalb authorities charged both with falsifying a state document, a felony that carries a potential two- to 10-year prison term. Berry pleaded guilty to that charge in December. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $1,000 fine. Alexander completed 40 hours of community service at a local food bank and faces no further action.


To: All DeKalb Employees
From: Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent
Subject: Message From the Superintendent
Date: 24 June 2009

As you know by now, Atherton Elementary School was recently implicated in the CRCT cheating scandal that has been a source of much publicity by the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).

As Superintendent, I was both concerned and surprised that this investigation was elevated to the front page of Sunday's AJC newspaper and warranted a probe by the District Attorney's office. Dr. James Berry and Mrs. Doretha Alexander are good people who made a grave mistake. They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences. They have served the DeKalb School System with distinction for many years. It is important that you know that the school district was not consulted nor played any role in their recent arrests. While we do not condone their actions in any way, they should be allowed to move on with their lives.

DeKalb County School System is a family, and during difficult times family should come together. As a family, I am asking the entire system to reach out to Dr. Berry and Mrs. Alexander and show your support. An e-mail, card or phone call will go a long way towards showing Dr. Berry and Mrs. Alexander that we still care about them. The DeKalb County School System is a great school district working together to ensure that all of our students are successful and prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.


Anonymous said...

Why is this being rehashed? It was discussed over and over and over again when it was first reported. Let's talk about the budget issues at both the state and local level. This blog is sinking into AJC land - unfettered complaining, whining, and personal attacks. For some of you (I suspect ODE), this blog has become nothing more than a vehicle for personal attacks. These posters care nothing for our children, as evidenced by their lack of concrete ideas and legitimate discussions of what we can do to make sure our children get the best education they can.

Anonymous said...

As quickly as Lewis' memo was posted in our newsflash email, it was erased. Not every teacher saw this email, as many do not check their emails over the summer. It has always looked like to me that word got back to him that the memo was leaked and it was pulled to try and save face. He is not the type of leader, I want to work for or want to be ahead of the school system that I live in. He simply has got to go.

The ap and principal's licenses should be pulled and they should never be able to teach or work for ANY school system in our country, not just in the state of Georgia. This ethical violation should follow them.

Cerebration said...

"It is important that you know that the school district was not consulted nor played any role in their recent arrests. While we do not condone their actions in any way, they should be allowed to move on with their lives."

And that is the problem with Lewis as leader.

FWIW - I do believe that this discussion about cheating, Lewis' reaction to and support of the cheaters and the fact that the system has NEVER made AYP is relevant. To the budget - and to the fact that we need a tougher board.

Anon - if you'd like to write an article with your input and ideas for a budget - we'll post it!

Anonymous said...

This is being rehashed because the state is questioning the changing of CRCT test scores by school officials throughout the state including multiple DCSS schools, which is an incredible breach of trust. Lewis should have been reprimanded by the BOE for his inane memo. The BOE has a duty to make sure all parents know this system wil never allow actions such as CRCT teaching, and that anyone involved in such actions will be terminated from employment.

Does anyone know if Doretha Alexander is still on DCSS payroll? Berry has been banned for a year. It will be interesting to see if Lewis tries to re-hire him eventually. I really hope Alexander is not still a DCSS employee.

Anonymous said...

This should be brought up again and again, along with the many other scandals until every DeKalb resident understands what is going on. The AJC, and other local news reports have not reported enough about the happenings in DCSS. Many residents don't really know what is going on, even those with children in the system. They are only worried about their children's schools. As residents of DeKalb we need to be worried about the entire district and not just what is happening in our neighborhoods.

With DCSS facing a 100 million deficit that is being kept out of the newspapers and other news reports, we need to be vocal and let the public know what is going on. This is a very scary time in DeKalb and time and time again, it appears that those in charge are not doing the right things.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:52, this blog has offered more concrete discussion on the budget shortfall situation than any other outlet. Instead of whining, please bring "concrete ideas and legitimate discussions of what we can do to make sure our children get the best education they can". You'll find there are more readers of this blog than anywhere else who want to discuss the serious issues facing our school system. And changing CRCT test scores is pretty darn serious, especially when it can lead to SACS de-certification if it occurs at multiple schools without any institutional control to prevent it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this O & T. This story was the lead story for yesterday's AJC. Whether it is old news or not, it really damages the reputation of our school system, which directly affects our property values. It also affects the school system attracting high quality new teachers, and experienced teachers. I heard from an administrator that she is bracing for mass teacher departure at the end of the school year, and she already had major concerns about special education instruction throughout DCSS. We need to retain our best experienced teachers, and be a system where new college graduates want to teach.

I had not previously read Lewis' memo before. It really is shocking he was send it out to all employees. It seems fair to question his judgement on many of his decisions. The California trip debacle was national news, and I had friends from all over the country e-mailing me about it. They couldn't believe 200 people were sent cross country for a conference.

Anonymous said...

It may have, but all the good ideas and decent comments have been suffocated by all the personal attacks and whining and moaning about things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

This blog is a wonderful device for parents and citizens to receive and share information - but the legitimate discussion has gotten lost amongst all of the peripheral nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Why is this being rehashed?

Because this may be a blessing in disguise. It points to the simple fact that the educational reforms to raise test scores are a blatant and palpable sham for the most part.

A fair amount of these successes are not by useless, backbreaking, and demoralizing America's Choice programs but are instead "via reasures". The high visibility programs are merely to draw the public's attention from the real "score improvement by erasures". (What about the blank ovals that might have been filled out later in the dead of night? What about the ghost test takers? How do you know for sure?)

Sonny Perdue, Kathy Cox, and assorted local superintendants already took their victory laps "asserting" that their reforms were bearing fruit. Just as National Baseball commissioners and managers knew that Sosa, Bonds, and Maguire were on steroid but the excitement was resurrecting baseball so it is that Sonny Perdue, Kathy Cox, and assorted local superintendants know that these sudden spikes in test scores are NOT real. But since these unreal spikes gets them elected and performance bonuses...oh well!

Any true high school graduate knows that high standard test scores are "primarily" determined by socio-economic factors.

Stop the madness and the hypocrasy.

Vox Noctae

PS: Building careers on fake test scores is not a manifestation of caring for children!

Anonymous said...

His memo really calls in question his judgement.

I wholeheartedly believe as a teacher that if it were two teachers who changed test scores, they would have been immediately fired, not supported with a system-wide memo.

Lewis goes so far out of his way for administrators, but treats teachers like they are a dime a dozen. I believe it was BOE member Paul Womack who stated in a TV interview that if teachers don't like something, there are plenty of teachers to take their place.

It goes to Lewis' and the BOE's mindset. To them, everything revolves around the administration, and teachers and parents are secondary. Again, if it were two teachers who changed CRCT scores, Lewis would have never supported them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:52, yes there are occassionally some personal attacks, but they are just of fraction of the comments here. I think people are so frustrated with DCSS, they occassionally lapse into poor judgement and make a personal comment. But overall, I've read very insightful comments here and have learned a lot about DCSS inner workings.

545 instructional specialists and supervisors? $14 million on lawyer fees for the $500,000 Herry Mitchel lawsuit? A new Executive Director of Corporate Wellness who's salary is only partially covered by a temporary grant? A new software systemwide rollout, eSIS, that was not first rolled out on a trial basis? $500,000 spent on Judeg Thelma Moore?

I've learned so much about DCSS, and I've learned it here on this blog from fellow parents and residents. Thanks Cere for starting it!!

Anonymous said...

Teachers are either too intelligent or too scared to alter tests. You pick.

Teachers are too busy with students and meaningless paperwork. They can't go behind closed doors and conspire.

Teachers caught altering answer sheets would be turned in by competing teachers in the same grades. If every teacher in a grade were doing so, other teachers from other grades would turn them in. If an entire faculty were cheating, there would be some honest whisleblower.

So only administrators can really cheat(if they want)because you only need 1 or 2 to carry it out and keep it secret. The article bears that out. Now for the bubbles left blank, how would they get caught?

Cerebration said...

I do agree with you anon, that there is a lot of "peripheral nonsense". This has been my complaint about the leadership of this school system - and why I started this blog. Our board and administration always seem focused on "peripheral nonsense" (some of it is actually not nonsense, it is quite serious - like bullying) - but rarely do they discuss education issues.

That "peripheral nonsense" certainly comes out in our discussions and we do need to filter it better. Let's all stay more focused. It's about the students - and the fact that the school system is not providing for their very own goals - safe, clean, high performance educational environments.

This is taken from the BOE's own website -

Board of Education
Mission & Goals

The mission of the DeKalb County School System is to form a collaborative effort between home and school that maximizes students' social and academic potential preparing them to compete in a global society.
1: To narrow the achievement gap and improve the graduation rate by creating a high performance learning culture in all schools and sites.
2: To increase rigor and academic achievement in Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in Pre K-12.
3: To ensure quality personnel in all positions.
4: To ensure fiscal responsibility in order to maintain safe and healthy learning environments that support academic programs, resources and services.

Anonymous said...

So what is the explanation for the erasures at the other DCSS schools named in the more recent AJC articles? These are just as serious as what happened at the first school. If you understand statistics, then you know that this was not chance, an accident, or the typical student changing his mind about an answer. It had to be intentional.

While not nearly as damning as what has been revealed regarding the City of Atlanta Schools, parents and students deserve a quick investigation.

I'm not sure criminal prosecution is always the correct remedy but I think the responsible adults, whether teachers or administrators, should be banned from public education for at least 5 years.

Anonymous said...

I think the entire system of NCLB testing is so flawed that we need to scrap it and start over.

Current NCLB assessments cheat the student.

Standardized testing was developed to aid teachers in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of students. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a norm referenced test, was developed in 1935, and its sole purpose was the improvement of instruction. Criterion referenced tests compare how a student does against a set criteria rather than comparing him/her to other students of that grade level/age. Criterion referenced tests are most appropriate for quickly assessing what concepts and skills students have learned from a segment of instruction. In both norm referenced tests and criterion referenced tests, the goal is to modify instruction for students in order to help them succeed.

These assessments were developed to assess students, not teachers so the goal of these tests is instantly subverted when you switch goals. The goal is no longer student centered – it now becomes teacher centered.

A more proper and thorough assessment would be a performance based test. The student performs a task that shows they have mastered the skill. For example, a student would be required to draw a house to scale versus bubbling in the correct answer for perimeter or area because they memorized the formulas. These tests assess higher level critical thinking skills, something that we sorely need today in the workplace. By the way, it is impossible to have those high level critical thinking skills if you do not have content mastery – otherwise it’s just opinion based on no facts – something we have in abundance today. Unfortunately, performance based tests are very labor intensive and therefore expensive. So as a quick and dirty substitute we use standardized tests such as the CRCT.

So how do NCLB standardized tests cheat children?
The focus of assessing students true strengths and weaknesses has shifted to “teaching to the test” and practicing “test taking skills”. When that happens as it frequently does, I as a teacher cannot tell if the student mastered the content last year or just became a good test taker.

Georgia spends millions of dollars for online practice tests (Ga OAS was a multimillion dollar expenditure). These practice tests don’t diagnose or teach. They just allow the student to “get comfortable with testing”. Whole (and expensive) programs are built and marketed around getting students to “pass the test”.

It is difficult to overestimate the amount of money that goes into the testing and remediation business. Just note the $8,000,000 DeKalb County spent on America’s Choice, a program developed by the non-profit organization the NCEE and spun off as a for profit company. Need I mention the millions spent on the despised Springboard system developed and marketed by The College Board.

The whole assessment and remediation industry has drained literally billions of dollars from the classroom while simultaneously robbing teachers of the unvarnished data they need to make determinations about students’ needs. I call that cheating our students.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:19

You have, I feel, captured the essence and the absurdity of the argument.

Do you mean that so-called professional educational officers and politician do not know the purpose and function of these tests?

Tell us why we are evaluating teachers on the basis of these results...

Anonymous said...

Interesting that this post has become a basis for opinions on what is fair game for blog discussions. I agree with Cere -- it's worth discussing because albeit old news, here's what's new to us: (a) the sheer gall and intent to cheat and (b) the unmitigated support of the leadership after the fact. This goes directly to the leadership's decision-making skills and judgment -- and that's fair game.

Let's face it -- every state's high-stakes testing methodology is fundamentally flawed, because the over-arching thing which spawned the need for these high-stakes tests -- NCLB -- is fundamentally flawed. And the stakes are very high. The basis for defining the "stakes" is fake, but high. The federal government imposed NCLB on states and thus local school districts, and we're all now living a perverse lie until NCLB is overhauled. Fact is, none of this high-stakes testing means that what 3rd-graders learn in Minnesota is the same as what 3rd-graders learn in Mississippi. Why? Because states get to call their own baselines for AYP!

Nonetheless, here we are discussing cheating within the perversity. Bottom line: cheating is cheating. And that's why we're talking about this. We here on this blog have control of very little until after all the poop has rolled downhill -- from feds to states to local districts. And our subject is how the local district is demonstrating leadership. So yes, this is worthy fodder. Keep bringing it. Let the people see how leadership is executed.

As for NCLB itself, I read several years ago about two -- TWO! school districts in the nation who DECLINED to comply with NCLB. Of course, that means no federal dollars, and they weren't large urban-suburban school districts like this one, but think of all the dollars they saved over the past several years. It is, after all, a cottage industry all its own.

Shayna said...

I have a lot of opinions on NCLB (I've brought many of them to Senator Isakson). I strongly believe that a nationally normed test, such as the Stanford or IOWA should be given at the start of the year and then, again, at the end of the year (or from the end of one year to the end of the next year but following, specifically, the individual child with today's technology) and the teacher should be judged on precisely where the child started the year and where the child ended the year and not on some other criteria. The CRCT, as a parent, tells me nothing. At least with the Stanford and the IOWA, I have some idea of what my child knows. The SAT, ACT and PSAT also tell me something about what they know. I also think that you could do away with the "cheating" if you had the kids take the test on line. If there were enough computers in the building to take the given test by grade level (not the whole school at a time but a grade at a time) -- there wouldn't be any ability to "fudge". I think colleges take many tests this way and it would be efficient. Then the kids could benefit from the computers the rest of the year, too. Also, if there are programs with Dell and Apple, we could benefit from that partnership -- win/win -- rather than putting moniotrs in classrooms and having these issues looming out there. There is also the "return" to how it was and not dealing with NCLB at all as we, as a state, my be losing more money than we make with it given what we are not getting from the feds versus costs of compliance -- I'm not sure anyone is really looking into this.

Anonymous said...

It's always wrong to cheat, but teachers are often put in untenable situations. We parents should stand up for teachers when we know a teacher is being or has been pressured to cheat.

Principals and other administrators put pressure on DeKalb teachers to change grades; in other words to give students grades they did not earn. Principals pressure teachers to go into the online grading system and input a grade of passing instead of failing, completely overriding the grade point averaging system that has been mandated by the county.

Changing grades is cheating twice. It cheats the students who earned their grades, and it cheats the student who had his/her grade changed. I believe grade changing is actually worse than CRCT cheating because grades get students into accelerated classes, colleges, etc.

Were any DeKalb administrators ever investigated for pressuring teachers to change grades? In one instance grades were changed in the online grading system while the teacher was on maternity leave (although not in the teacher's hand marked gradebook she kept as a backup).

Guess who was out the door? The teachers - one of them a Georgia Tech graduate who taught math, another a science teacher (and do we ever need science and math teachers - so hard to find - easier to find administrators).

Guess who kept their $100,000+ a year jobs - the administrators.

Is it any wonder with such unethical leadership and poor support by parents that our teachers feel set adrift? At least the teachers are adults and can find other jobs. The majority of our students cannot seek another learning environment.

Dekalbparent said...

What catches my attention is the fact that, despite all the publicity the Atherton case brought to DeKalb, there are still DeKalb schools on the list. What does this say?

Did Dr. Lewis' public sympathy for the principal and AP send a message that the cheating can be rationalized in some way? Is the pressure on schools so great that there's "damn the torpedoes" attitude? Have the questionable ethical decisions we have seen at the top in DCSS set a tone here?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, if I were ever pressured to cheat on the tests, to the media I would go. Nationally if need be. There is no excuse for cheating and I need to be a roll model for my students, as the mantra in my room is to tell the truth no matter what.

Our society has made it okay to be dishonest. Bill Clinton and his not having sexual relations comes first to mind. It is not okay to be dishonest and we must show our children this.

Making excuses for teachers and administrators is not acceptable. The email from Lewis just astounded me last June. I sent it to whom ever I could and am glad that I did save it, as it disappeared as quickly as it was sent out. Our children deserve honest, ethical people in their classrooms and running the school system. We do not have that. I am tired of working for unethical, dishonest people and will stay home with my son.

I found it sad that my neighborhood school had a classroom in question according to the web site that I viewed with the cheating article. Another reason why my son will not be attending a DCSS until things are cleaned up and house is cleaned.

Anonymous said...

Have the questionable ethical decisions we have seen at the top in DCSS set a tone here?

Huh? There were 5 DeKalb schools (another one was an independent charter school) on that list. What about all of the other DeKalb schools that were not "questionable".

This is just the type of crap that I find so objectionable on this board. In indictment on a whole system based on the questionable actions of a few.

Anonymous said...

Even among schools with minimal as the number of classes flagged for too many eraser marks, many of these schools do not have zero classes flagged for too many eraser marks. One class suspected of cheating is too many.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3:46 pm

Well, two DeKalb teachers thought just like you and did go to the media. One even had a tape recording. See these 2 WSB TV videos (website addresses below):

The result in both instances was the teachers were let go and the administrators are in their same jobs.

Grade changing is cheating pure and simple and should not be condoned by DeKalb administrators any more than changing CRCT answers should.

Anonymous said...

I see posters who want to absolve the teachers in this cheating situation - and place the blame on the principals and Crawford Lewis.

Why isn't more light being put on the teachers? While, they may not be involved in any of the cheating, per se, if they were really doing their job, would there be a need for schools to worry about children not passing?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous---February 13, 2010 4:05 PM

1. Any elementary school admistrator who truly supervises his/her school has at least a vague idea of the results a class and even a good number of the students would achieve on the high stakes testing.

2. Any elementary school admistrator who truly earned his degree and was a fulltime classroom teacher for 5 to 10 years knows that kids from the projects of Philadelphia do not get as high scores as the kids from Upper Merion, PA regardless of ethnicity or religion.
( I am using Philadelphia & Upper Merion as not to insult any one here)

3. With #1 & #2 being basic common knowledge, any administrator SHOULD know if cheating is occuring in any elementary classroom when the scores are way above reasonable expectations.

4. If Sonny Purdue, Kathy Cox, and the local superintendants SURELY KNOW about #2 and #3.

5. Who most profits from the erasures? Who has opportunity to peacefully change answers during the night? Elementary Watson!

6. Every one should grow a pair and stand up against using these test results as weapons of management.

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

You mean:

"Any elementary school admistrator who truly earned his degree and was a fulltime ACADEMIC classroom teacher for 5 to 10 years knows that kids from the projects of Philadelphia do not get as high scores as the kids from Upper Merion, PA regardless of ethnicity or religion."

Anonymous said...

The bar to "pass" these tests is very low. Again, the "cheating" is a sympton of the problem. Why can't these children pass even the most elementary test?

Anonymous said...

"Why can't these children pass even the most elementary test?"

Simple answer:

Whereas you think the 3rd grade tests measures learning from 3rd grade, it actually measures the student learning from BIRTH to 9 year of age.

Whereas you think the 5th grade tests measures learning from 5th grade, it actually measures the student learning from BIRTH to 11 year of age.

Again, this is simple socio-economics---Sometimes, it's more "socio" than "economics" but the "socio" was caused by the parents' previous "economics".

Anonymous said...

If each school met a test-result goal appropriate by virtue of its population, would there be all of this trouble and cheating?

As far as closing the gap between the have and have nots, I think that smaller class sizes in k-5 would allow the teacher to make up deficits in learning and establish rapport with the family to bring about change.

It might even be a good idea to have the same teacher for k-2 and 3-5 so that the kids learn for their teacher since they may have parents too busy scraping a living rather than re-inforcing learning, good conduct, and attitude at home.

Truth is honesty. Truth has no shame. We have 2 Dekalbs not just one.

Anonymous said...

When we have half of DeKalb Schools personnel in support and administration, you get a very high pupil teacher ratio and of course less individual attention for students.

Why don't we rebalance the equation by putting more personnel in the classroom and less in support and administration?

When I taught 4th grade, I had up to 33 students in my classroom some years and 22 other years. Parents, in which classroom do you think I could give my students more individualized attention? I only taught them for 6 instructional hours a day, so it was physically impossible to serve 33 students as well as I could serve 22.

Think about that the next time your child is sitting in a class of 32 (or 35 if the state of Georgia changes the class size allowance which the superintendents are pressing them to do).

The budget crunch will pack more and more students into DeKalb's classrooms if cuts are not made in the support and admin side but come at the expense of our classroom size. Our students will need the same amount of attention, but teachers will have less time to divide among the increased classroom load. On the other hand, parents will expect their children to master all the content, but this will not happen for more and more children.

Addressing the CRCT cheating scandal, I don't think cheating is as widespread among teachers as administrators. Teachers rarely get fired if their students don't meet CRCT objectives. It's too hard to find teachers to replace them. (In 2007 only 3 physics teachers, 9 chemistry teachers and 40 biology teachers were certified in Georgia. I guarantee they could go wherever they wanted to teach.)

On the other hand administrators get changed at the drop of a hat. If their school doesn't make AYP for several years, they are replaced. It's easier to change the school's administration and say that was the problem than make the fundamental changes necessary to rebalance our staffing needs. Some schools in DeKalb that never make AYP get new administrators every 2 or 3 years. That's some real pressure on principals and assistant principals.

Hasn't anyone noticed that virtually all of DeKalb's principals have been replaced or moved in the last 8 years?

Cerebration said...

I couldn't agree with Anon 12:19 PM more!

"The whole assessment and remediation industry has drained literally billions of dollars from the classroom while simultaneously robbing teachers of the unvarnished data they need to make determinations about students’ needs. I call that cheating our students."

I have posted links to studies here on just how much money it costs to implement NCLB - and guess what - it costs MORE to implement than we are reimbursed from the federal government. I have said many times - Georgia should say "thanks but no thanks" to those federal dollars and go back to old-fashioned teaching.

Also - invest in after school programs like Boys and Girls Clubs and summer camp experiences for at-risk students. It is exactly the lack of these social experiences that shows up in the gaps in test scores. You can't replicate summer camp or trips to the museum, outdoor nature hiking or so many other mind-opening life experiences in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

C'mon 3:51. Be serious. This is a serious issue for grown-ups. For five schools in one system to be under investigation is a large number. it takes a whole lot to trigger an investigation. There is an article on the front page of today's Metro section about how the CRCT scandal affects companies looking to re-locate in the state. It's more than the actions of a few. And these actions cost us in so many ways, including a higher millage rate because we're not attracting enough new business to the county.

Anonymous said...

Another way that your chances of making AYP are enhanced is to figure out ways to withdraw SWD students or other students with low scores for at least one dy so that they do not count as FAY students.......

Anonymous said...

Be serious. This is a serious issue for grown-ups.

More insults......

For five schools in one system to be under investigation is a large number

3 elementary schools out of 83.
1 middle schools out of 20 middle schools and 1 "alternative school" is a "large number"? No, I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon February 13, 2010 6:26 PM

While you can mitigate the problem, you cannot defend the indefensible.

These schools are JUST the ones flagged for ERASURES.

There are smarter ways to cheat. For example, answers are left blank; absent students take test in absentia...etc....

The legal principle is "False in ONE, false in ALL"


Anonymous said...

Never said I was defending cheating. Please show more where I was.

Anonymous said...

You were not defending cheating. You seemed to be defending the system against an accusation based on 6 schools.

I suggested the 6 were caught by the erasure probe. Other smarter cheating may also exist because if you are false in one you may be false in all.

It was also suggested that the tests were being misused by the authorities to compare socio-economically different populations who are probably equal in IQ.


Anonymous said...

Anon 6:26:

I'm afraid that IS a lot. Because when real estate agents and corporate senior executives examine where to bring people and commerce, it doesn't ring so well to say that "only 4% of the elementary schools were involved in a possible cheating scandal".

And frankly, it's educators -- those always held to the higher standard -- who've either executed or condoned the behavior. Even if they're no longer teaching in a classroom, they're at their roots educators, still licensed and paid to be involved in our childrens' education.

This is a little like managing classroom behavior. As frustrated as people become to hear that the entire classroom must be punished because of the actions of a few, the admonishment carries weight even with the innocent students -- so that they help with demanding good behavior from the guilty students. DeKalb is the entire classroom in this case. We're all smeared, thus we're all in it together. And we demand the highest standards of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Because when real estate agents and corporate senior executives examine where to bring people and commerce,

People are more concerned with the local schools located in the area with which they are expected to move.

it doesn't ring so well to say that "only 4% of the elementary schools were involved in a possible cheating scandal".

Or how about "96% of the elementary schools were not involved in a possible cheating scandal"?

Anonymous said...

C'mon Anon 6:26 PM. If there were five bank branches with theft by its staff, it's customers would justifably freak out. I agree, this really is an issue for grownups.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:10 sounds like a DCSS staff member.

The last person in the world who should ever be involved with cheating is a school principal.

Anonymous said...

Anon February 13, 2010 7:10 PM

I need your PR machine to help me get my operating privileges back at Emory.

Out of 100 cases, I am a surgeon with 96 successful by-passes but I also has just 4 patients die on the operating table as a result of my falling asleep.

Cerebration said...

How's this analogy - A driver's license tester tests 100 people and only cheats on 4 of them - he knows they are in no way ready to drive, but gives them a license anyway. Not only that, he tells these 4 that they are good drivers and they skip away thinking so. Then these 4 promptly ram right into someone else on the highway. They have to pay a fine and go to court - but they never really have to go back and learn to drive well. These 4 go on in their lives driving on the roads with the other 96 who learned to drive and earned a license. These are the kinds of "drivers" of life that DCSS is sending out into the world when they are pushed through by means other than actually learning the material. The only person cheated is the student - well, and the poor soul that student crashes into.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher who has worked in the inner city with extremely poor children, I do not buy the socio-economic excuse of students not doing well on the CRCT or other standardized testing. I had 38 students in my class and all students improved at least a year in a half on the ITBS. I accomplished this with with my students despite not having materials to use with my children and having to make much of what I used to help them read and learn. I also did this in my first years of teaching and not just during one year, but during my entire stint of teaching in that district.

Teachers who teach solely to any test, students' do not do better on the test. I have seen studies where they actually do worse as the children do not have a strong foundation on the standards.

Teachers in DeKalb are forced to teach to the test. Children have been working on CRCT books for at least the last 2 weeks in my school. I refuse to teach to the test. I try the best that I can to give my students a quality education, despite Talley and her crew's sorry curriculum efforts.

One cannot teach just to the test and expect for students to improve. Good, quality teaching makes for good test scores. I am not saying that we shouldn't teach our students test taking skills, but using a CRCT book 2 months before the CRCT is not teaching test taking skills.

One school with questionable erasing marks is too many. Each classroom with questionable marks should be investigated.

We really do not know what the socio-economic make-up is in our schools. I know of a have 2 teacher family whose children are receiving free lunches. People know what amount of money they need to put down on their free lunch forms to receive free lunch, and no one questions this amount. No proof is needed. Principals know what is going on, and they go along with it, as the more students on free and reduced lunch they have, the more money they get. This is the same reason why we have students who really aren't gifted classified as gifted.

DCSS does not promote honesty. It is not something that is promoted and expected of it's employees. I am can picture Lewis giving the line made famous by Jack Nicolson: "You can't handle the truth" to anyone asking for it.

We have five schools that are questionable, but many more classrooms that have an unusual numbers of erasers. It's not just the five schools, it's the total number of classrooms that have questionable markings on their tests.

Anyone knowledgeable about cheating in their school or school district should loose their job and teaching license for good. Not just for a year. Punish a few and the rest will get the message.

Anonymous said...

How many teachers are there like Anon 8:18?

I guess not many...but thank God for those like Anon 8:18.

Can you give me some advice on how to be more like you for my 3rd grade class of 2 gifted, 2 special ed inclusion, 4 esol, 4 ex-esol, 3 EIP-Math/reading, 1 EIP-math, kids, and 8 regular ed kids (3 of which just moved in from NYC).

Like you I don't and won't cheat.

Anonymous said...

I meant anon 8:27 not 8:18

Cerebration said...

Yeah, Anon 8:27 PM! If you'd like to ever write an article for the blog on your experiences and your suggestions for teachers - we'll publish it!

Send it to

What a wonderful teacher!! We have many good teachers like you - in it for the children - and for the long haul - regardless of the latest fad program.

Anonymous said...

Teachers in DeKalb are forced to teach to the test

Teachers all over the country are forced to "teach to the test". Every state in this country has their own version of "CRCT" - it is requirement of NCLB. Quit trying to make it seem that DCSS teachers have it worse than any other system.

Molly said...

You are arguing over whether 6 schools cheating is a big problem or not, but in reality, far more than 6 schools in DeKalb were flagged. The 6 schools were flagged severe, and another 20 schools were flagged of moderate concern. In fact, only 63 of our 125 schools and 20 centers were in the "clear" category. What that tells me is the cheating in DeKalb is perhaps subtler than cheating in APS, but it is still a very big problem.

Anonymous said...

Cheating is a symptom a wider problem. Again, I ask, who is ultimately responsible for the fact that some students are doing so poorly on these tests that someone felt the need to change the scores.

Find the answer to that question, coming up with solutions to why children are not learning what they are supposed to and incorporating those solutions, rather than pointing fingers, and most likely, this discussion will have some merit.

Paula Caldarella said...

I think we need to be clear on this latest article by the AJC with regards to the CRCT scores. NO ONE, NO ONE, even Kathleen Mathers has indicated that this erasure study is evidence of cheating. All they are saying is that the erasure study indicates further investigation needs to be done. Assuming that the AJC will give factual, complete information, well, take that at your own risk. Your best bet is to go to the documents about the study on the GOSA website. I would prefer that these articles are what is used for discussion purposes rather than what is printed in the AJC.

This erasure analysis is considered a check for unusual numbers of erasures to student responses. Without additional layers added to the analysis, this kind of check only addresses the possibility, not the certainty, of teachers or administrators altering the responses of students

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebration said...

I don't think O&T posted this article to debate whether or not school administrators have cheated, or if so, how many of them did cheat. The point I took away from this post was that yes, we had a principal who confessed that he actually had the audacity to sit down with children's tests and ask his assistant to read the answers out loud while he actually erased and corrected those sheets. That's bad. Really bad. And it broke the public's trust.

But even worse, was our superintendent's response to the news. I believe his endorsement and support of such outrageously unethical behavior sent a loud message to teachers - I will support your principals and administrators over teachers and students any day of the week. In his email, Lewis implicitly does not have an issue with cheating or lying - he is much more concerned with friendships.

O&T made this point very well -

Read Lewis' memo carefully. He does not write that all DCSS employees should be held accountable to high ethical and moral standards, that cheating is never, ever acceptable, and that any form of cheating breaks the trust that students, parents and taxpayers should have for the school system.

Why didn't Lewis say what some of what O&T and the rest of you are saying? He very easily could have admonished these cheaters and endorsed and supported the many who don't - while warning strongly that anyone who ever considers this kind of action will be dealt with swiftly - by Lewis himself. That's the kind of leadership I would expect from a superintendent.

But no - he asks the other 13,000+ non-cheaters to send the cheaters a note of support. And then, very oddly, our school board later gives him a raise.

These people live in some kind of parallel universe from the rest of us.

Ella Smith said...

Cheating is not ok. However, as a teacher I see it as a norm for many students. They do not see a big problem with it.

I also think this is a problem with our society in general. It has become more exceptable to cheap not only as administrators, but also as students in our schools.

This cheating and lying also flows over in our courts. My husband does not practice law full time anymore. One of the things which always bothered him was the lying that happens under oath on the witness stand. Again, this is an example of the changes that are occuring in our society. This has always happened. However, it is become more and more acceptable in our society.

Dr. Lewis comments even though they are offensive in nature only truely indicate the attitude of many in our society. Many do not see this as that big of a deal. However, most of us on this blog do see it as a big deal. Most of us have a sense of truth and justice and transparency.

Cerebration said...

To add - the overarching point is also made very well by Anon 8:33 -

Cheating is a symptom a wider problem. Again, I ask, who is ultimately responsible for the fact that some students are doing so poorly on these tests that someone felt the need to change the scores.

We do need to identify what is exactly wrong within the system and what kinds of leadership roles need to change in order to create a healthier, happier, more successful educational environment.

The only answer I have, as a citizen, is to replace as many board members as we can this November.

Ella Smith said...

Shayna you are correct about standardized test. However, the problem is that these test cannot be given within a period of time or they are invalid in nature. These test cannot be given in less than a years time apart from each other.

The purpose of these test are not to determine what a child has learned but to compare children to children throughout the country.

The other problem is that these tests are normed for students in a certain area and the word usage is not always appropriate for students in another part of the country. In other words students do not always understand word usage in different parts of the country.

I do agree that there has to be a better way to judge students achievement and comparing students to students in the nation is one way to do this.

Anonymous said...

Cere, just replacing BOE members will not, alone, solve the problem. If the children are not learning - well, this discussion has to start in the classroom - after all this is where the students are supposed to receive the knowledge they need to pass these tests.

Cerebration said...

Oh boy, Ella you are correct on that. I remember watching via one way mirror as a private psychologist administered an IQ test to my daughter. I was floored by the bias in the wording. Most of these tests are created out of the Harvard area and New England so the words are of the vocabulary of that area. For instance, the doctor asked my child to point to the "luggage". (She was only 4, so these were visual tests.) I asked later why she couldn't have used the other word, the one we use is "suitcase". My child hadn't heard the word "luggage" before. The doc said she has to ask exactly as written, no word substitution. Also, she was asked on a couple of other questions to point to the "drill" and point to the "hinge". Luckily, she had seen her dad using a drill and replacing a hinge (and he had discussed it with her at the time) so she knew those answers. But really, I thought - what on earth does knowing what a drill is have to do with a 4-year-old's IQ?

I could really see the racism in those tests. And I can see that if you rewrote the tests to only use another area's dialect, you would see a "shift" in IQ data.

I've mentioned before about the guy I met on a plane once who had created a board game called Poverty. There is no way to win at this game - sort of the opposite of Monopoly. You are hit with a brick wall every time you advance a little. This is one of the brick walls - testing that keeps you labeled and in your "place".

Cerebration said...

You are correct, Anon 9:50 AM. Replacing the board won't solve the problem, the problem is in the delivery and the extra services, however as parents and citizens, we have no power to change those details. We only have the power to elect new officials who will monitor and demand these things. I think we need a new board who will clean house in the administration and ensure that the new administration focuses on the classroom as Job 1.

Ella Smith said...

Changing some board members actually may be a step in the right directions.

As all of you know, I like many of the school board members and really cannot say bad things about them. However, in saying this school board members do represent the people of Dekalb County. If the people are unhappy with the school system the only voice the people have is their school board members. When school board members are not automatically re-elected because they are current school board members then the people realize there is a problem and have spoken, just like when Presidents are not re-elected for a second term.

However, it is very difficult to beat a person who is on the board who runs again. However, it can be done.

Again, I respect many of the current school board members. However, I may disagree with how they vote on issues. Respect and disagree are totally two different factors to me.

Anonymous said...

So we agree that the CRCT measures a child's socio-intellectual development from BIRTH to the test date albeit with an emphasis on the current school year/grade?

The foundation on which the 3rd grade teacher builds (prepares)was laid every day of the previous 8 years of the child's life.

While the teacher may have to impart "luggage" to your child, he/she does not have to teach "suitcase", "drill", and "hinge".

In schools were parental involvement and/or social opportunity are low (because of jobs, language, economics, illneeses) the teacher has to teach "luggage" + "suitcase", "drill", and "hinge" all out of context instead of as a life experience.

Some kids never get to pack a suitcase to go visit grandma, they pack a Kroger bag.

Closing the gap means re-inventing the family in school for these kids.

Anonymous said...

There was a 5th grade class at Vanderlyn that was "flagged". Does anyone really think that teachers/principals/children at Vanderlyn would need to cheat?

I would prefer to see this all play out before we apply the word "cheater" to anyone in our school system.

Open + Transparent said...

Anon 11:35 am, many of the altered tests from classes the state flagged are pretty much statistically impossible to be caused by anything other than someone manipulating the tests.

I will try to see if my friend who works for SACS will do a post on how the tests are scored, and how there has to be overwhelming statistical deviation for tests to be flagged for severe or moderate concern. When classes or schools are flagged severe, it is pretty much always from manipulation. There are millions of tests to be scored, and for so many to be flagged severe or moderate concern, we all should be concerned!

Cere, I strongly disagree with your 10:07 comment. I worked for the top company in the country that makes standardized tests. There is no racism involved, unintentionally or intentionally. The people who make up the test questions are purposedly an incredibly diverse group racially. I have to admit there were clearly more women than men, and I never realized until after I left to ask why.

If there is any unintentional bias by those drafting the test questions, it is more socioeconomic. Those drafting the test questions all had to have Ph. D's and be very sucessful in their prior careers as school system teachers/then administrators, or they had to be successful college professors. I was surprised by the number of college professors who drafted test questions who had never taught elem, middle of high schools.

Those in the standardized test industry definitely hold the Iowa as the standardized test with the highest regard. The CRCT doesn't get a lot of respect.

Open+Transparent said...

I'm not going to say there is a culture of cheating in DCSS. That's too broad and impossible to prove.

But I will flat out state that there is a culture of cutting corners, academically.

I have talked to multiple DCSS teachers who were forced to pass or graduate students who simply refused to do homework, and/or who didn't pass tests.

Some of the teachers held their ground, and forced the principal to change grades, and then they got labled as troublemakers, and will never get a chance to move up to asst. principal or principal. But the majority of the teachers who had students who didn't do the work or pass tests went along with their asst. principals who demanded they pass the students. The teachers just didn't want to jeopardize their careers, or they were too beaten down to fight.

It's definitely no way to keep your best teachers when all the teachers know that students who don't complete their work and/or pass tests will be passed, especially if their parents raise a stnk. DCSS teachers to a person all feel that an asst. principal or principal will never cover their back when they have a situation with such students.

I won't even get into cases of the best DCSS high school athletes who shouldn't have passed, because they didn't do any work or pass any tests, but they always were passed and/or graduated. If you are a stud DCSS athlete, you're going to pass, work or no work. I do know of some cases at Lakeside and Druid Hills where some good but not great athletes were actually failed, so there are exceptions to the rule.

Anonymous said...

Principals who pressure teachers to change a students grade from failing to passing cheat the students who earned their grades and cheat the student who didn't earn his/her grade.

When a principal cheats students on his/her grades, a culture of dishonesty is created. When Central Office personnel are involved, I really think teachers are doing the right thing by moving on and out of DeKalb County. There is no recourse for the teacher at that point.

Anonymous said...

People only work their way up the ranks in DCSS if they are willing to follow what they are told and not question things even if they do not feel right. I question and have been called a trouble maker to my face. I will leave DCSS at the end of the year, not because I am tired of teaching, but because I cannot send my son to a broken school system. He deserves all that I can give him.

Integrity and honesty are not important to DCSS administrators, or at least this is my experience. If honesty were an issue, than they would question the teachers that teach at their school whose child/children receive free lunches. They would welcome questions and disagreeing points of views that are in the children's best interests. This is happening at both schools that I have worked in and I have seen and heard teachers coach parents on what dollar amounts to write down.

Dishonesty is pervasive in the system. It's just not board members who need to change and Dr. Lewis, but we need an entire clean sweep of the administrative offices and in many schools.

Anonymous said...

Just to make sure we're all on the same track: the tests that were reviewed were the CRCT (Georgia-specific) tests, not the ITBS (nationally normed) tests. I question whether the CRCT is measuring everything a child has learned from birth to the end of the current grade - I agree that ITBS does.

To me, the CRCT tests are not particularly indicative of anything BUT whether the teacher taught what was on the CRCT (and was lucky enough to have covered all the parts of the curriculum that were chosen to be included in the test - sometimes it doesn't exactly follow logic).

I have read CRCTs, and the questions do not much allow the test taker to use their reasoning to determine the answer, where the ITBS or another nationally normed test has to, because it cannot test a specific curriculum.

Cerebration said...

The CRCT is what determines AYP status. Thus the pressure.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere - believe me, I know where the pressure is coming from!!

I trying to say that I don't believe the CRCT tests measure a child's learning from birth to current grade - they are too limited. I think this makes them even less valid as a measure of the adequacy of Georgia's curriculum.

I understand what the poster is talking about when they talk about measuring a child's lifetime learning - I just don't think the CRCT does that.

Anonymous said...

The CRCT, or any other so-called curriculum-based test borne out of NCLB, is not supposed to measure lifetime learning. It is not norm-based, like the ITBS. The only thing that the CRCT does (and not successfully) is measure grade-level content testing.

Finally, we're starting to connect some dots. Has anyone wondered out loud exactly what constitutes DeKalb's curriculum? Does DeKalb even HAVE a documented, living curriculum?

(Hint: the Georgia Performance Standards do NOT make a curriculum. The Georgia Performance Standards are just that -- performance standards. And they're the MINIMUM of what's required at grade level. At one time, the state DoE website even told us so.)

Anonymous said...

@ 8:01 good question. Former board member Simone Manning-Moon used to ask the same question on a regular basis with no response from the administration. Who needs curriculum when it's not about teaching children? Under this administration it's a job's program.

Cynical, yes.

Cerebration said...

DeKalbparent, I am certain that you know the pressure the CRCT place on staff. I just wanted to make sure that all of our readers understand the difference between the CRCT and the ITBS, etc... You are a terrific wealth of knowledge to this blog and we really appreciate your input! Keep on bringing knowledge to the table my friend!

Anonymous said...

Both the CRCT and the ITBS are standardized tests, objective in nature, and thus do not measure higher level thinking skills.

However, if standardized testing is done, you are correct in that the ITBS should be preferred over the CRCT in that it's a more discrete measure of student strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the ITBS is much more proficient in measuring the student who is above grade level.

As emphasized in a previous post, the ITBS was developed in the 1930s to assess students, not teachers so the goal of these tests is instantly subverted when you switch goals. The goal is no longer student centered – it now becomes teacher centered.

As a teacher, how do I know if my students from the previous year have succeeded on the ITBS or any other standardized test (e.g. CRCT) because they have been coached to "pass the test" or have been taught to "be good test takers"? Do they truly know the content? I can no longer trust the results.

When I taught in the 70s, 80s and 90s, I could depend on the standardized tests (at that time the ITBS) to give me a truer measure of what my students knew because no one coached them to "pass the test" or practice their "test taking" skills.

I would not like to be teaching now because a really valuable tool has been taken from teachers by NCLB. Teachers can no longer rely on the quantitative and qualitative integrity of standardized testing such as the ITBS or the CRCT.

"Teaching to the test" which really cheats the student is subsidized by the state and local district to the tune of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Teachers can't compete with this influx of money which subverts the results of the test. Therefore most teachers I know are forced to make up their own informal and formal assessments to see where their students are on the learning curve. What a waste of time and resources that could be better spent on our children.

Anonymous said...

I know a child that came home after the CRCT reading test two years ago in tears. She had finished the last question, noticed that she still had one "bubble" left and recognized that she had somehow double bubbled on the same line and slipped every question after that. She spent the last 5 minutes madly erasing and moving her answer bubbles--and now feared she would have to repeat 3rd grade. And this was a child that was very good at reading. When the scores came back, she had managed to switch enough of the answers to pass.

Per the methodology of this "eraser" study--- what she did might would have resulted in "flagging" her classroom this year.

Look at the detail. The school my son goes to was "flagged" for 7% of classrooms. When you look at the detail--one of three 1st grade classrooms had more erasers on all three tests. Did that teacher "cheat"? or did she just stress to the kids that they needed to keep working until time was up and consider their answers carefully? Do we know if there were also an abnormally number of "right to wrong" changes in that classroom, which would just indicated a group told to--keep working?

The only other classroom flagged was one of the three 3rd grade classes for Math. If you look at the detail, there were 19 kids that switched 83 answers from wrong to right between, but one kid alone was responsible for 16 of those switches. If you were to throw out that one set of switches--the classroom would have been below the threshold for flagging, and the school would have been below the threshold to be on the "minimal" concern list.

So let's not panic folks--kids, especially very young ones, can have problems with bubbling--and a school or individual teacher that impresses upon kids the importance of going back to recheck your work is going to have a higher number of erasers. It doesn't necessarily make them cheaters.

I'm glad that little girl caught herself in time to go back and shift her answers. Let's not jail her, her teacher, or her principal because she became a statistical "outlier".

Anonymous said...

It is then possible to teach 3rd grade content in language arts, reading, and math to a class of 24 students where 15 of them have a kindergarten readiness.

Otherwise quit telling us that socio-economics doesn't matter on the CRCT.

Otherwise start telling us that lung cancer is curable because 3 out 100lung cancer victims go into remission.

Paula Caldarella said...

Ya just gotta love GOSA. They were able to have the erasure analysis done for free, but now they have kicked back the "investigations" to the local districts. So, if the districts really want to investigate, they have to spend the money to have the outside consultants come in and investigate. Where are the districts going to get the money?

So, GOSA, goes out and makes this public spectacle about this erasure analysis, then washes their hands of the whole thing.

Why am I not surprised?

Anonymous said...

...And the offending school districts are gifted investigators.

Political theater.

Johnny can't read or write in the 1st grade, Johnny won't write much better in the 3rd grade unless there is a FAMILY that ensures readiness for school.

Teachers can't take Johnny home at night.

Paula Caldarella said...

Really? Are you blaming families for the fact that "Johnny" can't read or write? Don't teachers have some responsibility here? They, after all, have them for 8 hours a day in elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody MOM... I agree with that teacher or whoever posted that if the family is not going to help support the student then the student more than likely will not be teachable.

I have been in very low performing schools and I have been in over performning schools. You want to see where the difference lies. THE HOME.

I can tell by some of your post that you have never had to claw your way out of poverty to make a difference.

Case in point. Does your child have a cell phone. Ask them to see it or just go and pick it up. I can't tell you the awful grammer that I see on the ones that I collect, the cussing, the pictures of themselves.

This is happening right under parents noses day in day out, rich, poor, black, white, it doesn't matter. Until the home can handle their childern don't expect me to.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'm not debating the home environment issue. The poster was talking about readiness to read and write.

The job of a teacher is to teach "Johnny" or "Susie" to read and write, or whatever. Period.the.end.

The job of the parent is to support the teacher in the endeavour - not be the teacher.

One Fed Up Insider said...

The problem is that the parent is not holding up their end of the contract.

For example... How many parents out there have seen their child's homework in the past 2 weeks? How many of you have asked your child how was your day?

But, on the other hand how many of you have gone straight to the teacher and asked why my child has this grade or that grade? BEFORE you talked to your student.

Until I can take the child care credit tax deduction for your child don't expect me to be that child's parent.

I use to be a teacher that was there first thing in the morning and usually left after 5 closer to 6. Then, parents just stopped caring. Sports became the center of their world. Let's take Johnny to football on Monday, Tuesday is travel ball, Wed is back to football, etc.etc. Well Johnny is not getting the work done. That's ok, parent goes and complains that their child is the next Michael Jordan, grades get changed and now they are the starting quarterback at thier High School.

I am tired of being the one that gets the finger pointed at because it is easier to do that than to look into the mirror.

I have to agree with Anon 10:05. So sorry.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

Quite frankly, I'm a little insulted by your post "One Fed Up Insider". I ask both of my children how their day was and what and how much homework they have. And I will always listen to the teacher's "side" of an issue before I make up my mind about it.

I also believe that the number of parents who really don't care about their children's education is small.

Your insinutation that you somehow "parenting" these children are confusing. Do you clothe, feed, or house these children?

Here is the thing: I have very high expectations for the teachers of my children. For the most part, those expectations have been met and sometimes even exceeded - though there have been a few that I have not been so happy with, but we worked through that. My children have been lucky, I will admit that.

I do not and will not apologize for demanding the best for my children. I expect my children's teachers to do the job for which they get paid. I will support them however necessary in that endeavour. And if I do not feel they are doing their job, yes, I will discuss this with them - that is my job as a parent.

You have complained several times on this this blog about your job and that is your right. You don't seem to be happy teaching, so why do you?

One Fed Up Insider said...

YES, I do Dun Mom. I have emailed parents many times to help clothe many homeless children. I have purchased PUBLIX, KROGER, TARGET, WALMART gift cards for families in need.

I have meet some parents at the Goodwill store to help buy clothes for some families.

What I am PO'd about is self centered comments made by you and others that put the blame on teachers instead of looking at what is going on inside the home first.

Let me ask you, Dun Mom, have you read any of your post. You are so quick to blame teachers first. Instead of looking inside. Try it you might like it.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody mom, you are a wonderful mom.

Fedup was obviously not speaking about you or about the parents you hang out with. Fedups likes parents like you.

Fedup was speaking about the parents you DON'T WANT to hang out with and the kids you DO NOT ALLOW to have sleepovers with your kids.

Cerebration said...

I have a feeling we're comparing two very different worlds here. Dunwoody is a pretty affluent, family-oriented place - a place where parents strongly support teachers and schools. But sadly, in DeKalb, we do have many, many schools with very little parental support, which is bad enough, but worse, now it seems that parents have actually completed some kind of shift in thinking that teachers are completely responsible for the success of their children.

Fedup is telling the cold, harsh truth. We are all part of a very large system and these issues are a reality for many -- simply because it's not occurring in your school or relevant to your situation does not mean it's not happening. It is, and we need leaders who are willing to take strong action to support teachers and hold firm to rules of behavior.

And - as far as the cheating goes - Principal Berry ADMITTED changing answers and Dr Lewis sent out an email asking all 13,000+ employees to send a note of support to the guy! I have a big issue with that kind of "leadership".

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect example of why painting with the wide brush will get us nowhere. All children, even in the same family, have different needs. My two older sons, ages 25 and 23, required very little to succeed, although I was an engaged and supportive parent. They're now alarmed at some of the hoops I must jump through for the 13 year old, but he happens to be a much different kid -- he's not "cookie cutter". I'm learning things every day about how best to support him and hold him accountable at the same time.

This part of the thread also goes to the overall topic at hand -- CRCT cheating by administrators. If there's even a question of impropriety, the entire district bears the burden -- and that's why we can't afford even one instance of it. I've read with interest the comments regarding the basis for determining how a school gets flagged -- I admit that the devil is in the details and will wait to see what comes of it.

But, with the schools flagged for serious warnings, and with this publicized instance of two principals in an office erasing answers, it brings a pall over us all. That's no more acceptable than a teacher who is pre-disposed to thinking most of the parents in a class/school/community are not engaged, or a parent who mostly thinks the teacher is wrong. Or judgments based on county geography. Or (I could go on...) None of it is acceptable.

Anonymous said...


No truer words have been written on this blog as you have today.

" it seems that parents have actually completed some kind of shift in thinking that teachers are completely responsible for the success of their children."

The reality is that the Purdues, Coxes, Halls, Lewises (and board members)speak these words WHILE still POINTING FINGERS and THROWING STONES at teachers.

Anonymous said...

"I also believe that the number of parents who really don't care about their children's education is small."

As a teacher, Dunwood Mom, you would be surprised; I'd say less than half of my parents check homework or help their children with homework.

Cerebration said...

Case in point - Cross Keys. That school suffers from a lack of pretty much everything - however, the parents value education, support and encourage their children and raise them to respect their teachers - and they do! I kid you not - these kids are very appreciative, respectful and happy of spirit - and guess what - they do very well in school - despite very challenging circumstances. I really don't think this is a socio-economic issue as much as it's a family/support issue.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom

Students have 6 hours of instructional time, and an elementary teacher divides these 6 hours among 25 to 30 students.

Of course, home life makes a difference. That's not even debatable.

Didn't you talk to your children, read to them, limit their TV time, take them to museums, puppet shows, and play groups, provide them with scissors and crayons, let them help you measure and cook in the kitchen, check their homework every night, make sure they had nutritious meals, take them to the doctor and dentist on a regular basis, etc.? I certainly did all of the above with my daughter because I knew it would prepare her for school and for life.

That is not the case with all children. Many of them come in behind and stay behind. Psychological studies that deal with how children learn stress that the early years from birth to 5 years are critical in child development. We parents are their first teachers and their best teachers.

In my teaching career, I taught in lower income, middle income and high income schools. My students in lower income schools were not as prepared and did not score as high on standardized tests as my students in middle and upper income schools with the same teacher and the same educational materials, etc.

Among the lower income areas I taught in I had one class in which over half my students did not speak English as a first language. I had students who came from countries that had no formal education system - some were 9 or 10 years old and had never been inside a classroom. A few came from the Killing Fields in Cambodia and had seen unspeakable horrors in their lives.

I had other students who literally were sleeping on their cousins' or friends' couches or spent their nights in homeless shelters. One 5th grader I taught math to walked on a broken leg for weeks because her family didn't know you could get health care here in the U.S. A teacher discovered it, took her and her family to Grady, and stayed with them all night while she was in surgery.

Do you really think these circumstances will not affect their learning and therefore test scores?

I spent many more hours preparing for these students than my students in the middle and high income schools, and the work at school was infinitely more difficult. I closed the school down with the custodian more nights than I like to remember. Work literally consumed me.

I cared immensely for every single one of my students, but I had a responsibility to my own family. I finally had to move to a school that required less time and energy because I had to think about my own child and what I had left to give her.

Parents in lower income schools love their children just much as anyone else. But many are struggling to survive. The difficulties they face are reflected in their children's school performance. I don't think any teacher who has posted here is "blaming the parents that Johnny can't read". They are just stating a reality that many teachers face every day.

Paula Caldarella said...

Aren't family/support issues entertwined with socio-economic issues? I'm not sure that in some cases you can separate the two.

Paula Caldarella said...

Of course, home life makes a difference. That's not even debatable.

Why do discussions on this board always get turned around? I never said home life did not make a difference. I was not even talking about home life - I was talking about school life..........

Argh......I get so frustrated.

Paula Caldarella said...

" it seems that parents have actually completed some kind of shift in thinking that teachers are completely responsible for the success of their children."

Who said teachers were COMPLETELY responsible for the success of their children? NO ONE.

To make a point that the success of a child starts in the classroom in NO WAY indicates that teachers are totally responsible.


Anonymous said...

You cannot separate home life from school life. One always affects the other. For a child they are intertwined.

It might help in DeKalb County if we got some of those 6,200+ support and admin inside the schoolhouse to help those 7,000 teachers help our kids.

Maybe we wouldn't have the immense teacher turnover we have, and they could give our students more individual attention.

Anonymous said...

I checked, the certication channel for Georgia. Dr. James Berry's teaching certificate has been suspended until November 2011. I could not find Dorothea Alexander's certificate. All you have to do now is type in the person's first and last name. I fould this out when I was looking up to get updated information on my certificate.

Cerebration said...

DM, relax. No one is taking you to task here - we're just having a discussion.

I've asked Kim to post an article about the recent successes at Cross Keys HS. I think you will see that really, it is family support and encouragement, respect for teachers and education and a love of life and happy homes that make for success in the classroom.

These students don't have much in the way of material wealth, but they have found a way to work with their (very caring and terrific) teachers to carve out a pretty successful school. It's possible - even with little means.

Anonymous said...

The simple and unescapable fact is that politicians, educational leaders, and many people create or encourage view in which ONLY teachers are responsible (the official word is ACCOUNTABLE) for test scores of any kind in spite of the student and the family support.

With a prism like that these politicians, educational leaders, and many other people don't have to do nothing but blame teachers and make accountable through testing.( If only repeated mammograms without medications would cure breast cancer!)

When a teacher raises his/her voice, you hear as many have said the familiar refrain "why did you become a teacher"?


Anonymous said...

"When a teacher raises his/her voice, you hear as many have said the familiar refrain "why did you become a teacher"?"

Actually, many teachers have decided they don't want to be teachers and have moved to the support and admin side of the educational house. That's exacerbated the problem. We have an increase in support and admin and a decrease in teachers.

Many more teachers have left the teaching field and moved into other careers. Math and science teachers are almost impossible to get. The percentage of people who leave the teaching field is enormous.

Anonymous said...

Is Dorothea Alexander still on DCSS payroll? If she is, that says all you need to know about Crawford Lewis as an ethical leader.

Cerebration said...

No, I'm pretty sure she's gone from the system. If anyone knows for certain, let us know. But she and Berry at least no longer come up in the email database.

Cerebration said...

BTW - speaking of tests - have you all been clicking on the SAT question of the day? We have the link to it on the right hand column of the home page. I found today's question kind of hard - but I got it! (Brain is still workin'....!) Now, on math days - not so much...

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

I'm with you, Cere; math makes my head hurt. No problem with today's question, though.

Anybody know what Joe Reed's score was when he took the SAT last fall? He told me that he thought he might have aced the math.

Anonymous said...

Not directly related to the CRCT scandal, but maybe scandalous in its own right. Word is that all first-year teachers at Dunwoody were called in and told that because of the budget situation their services would not be needed next year. Have central office people been told the same thing?

Anonymous said...

WOW! Just wow.

That isn't one I had heard.


Can anyone confirm?

Anonymous said...

Also, it is my understanding that DHS was actually going to need more teachers (not less) next year. I am not so sure there is truth to this.

Dr. Lewis hasn't announced layoffs and Dunwoody High School is one of the few high schools that is actually growing in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Feb 19-Fri
State Of School System Address by Dr. Crawford Lewis
7:30am - 9:00am
Oglethorpe Power Corporation -2100 East Exchange Place - Tucker, GA 30085

RSVP to attend to

Anonymous said...

The meeting did take place. No need to spread rumors. The truth is bad enough. Exactly who is going to wind up filling teaching positions, when the budget axe falls? Most veteran teachers will tell you that people in the central office are nowhere close to being the best candidates for such positions. Keep asking the tough questions.

Anonymous said...

The meeting did take place. No need to spread rumors. The truth is bad enough


Anonymous said...

No rumors. Just a question. What meeting?

Will the Central Office certificated people all go to Dunwoody to replace new teachers to be laid off in August 2010? In that case all relatively affluent schools should expect infiltration... They won't go to the downthrodden places, will they?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:23:

"Downtrodden places"? vs. "relatively affluent places"? Please explain?

Anonymous said...

I would be appalled if Dr. Lewis lets good teachers go just so he can place Central Office personnel in their place.

Teacher turnover is exceptionally high at many of our schools, particularly at our low achieving ones. Some of our schools have such a hard time filling positions that it is well into the school year before they can get qualified teachers.

Why not place the instructional coordinators in vacant positions in schools that are having a difficult time making AYP?

These instructional supervisors have been developing programs for teachers to improve test scores for years. This looks like a perfect opportunity to put their views into practice in schools that are underserved.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but that would require them to work, no? I'd be happy to teach on a team with someone from the Central office. I'm curious to see how they'd do in the classroom. I think I'll wait for confirmation that those teachers will not be given contracts before I jump the gun.

Anonymous said...

It does not taste good but it is a sad fact. There are "Downtrodden places" and "relatively affluent places"?

Please explain: All the advantages and disadvantage these places bring to the classroom---for example the ease of getting $400 per parent for a band trip without having to do a time consuming fundraiser, maybe.

What did you think I meant?

Anonymous said...

Someone is being specifically vague and rumor-mongering.


Anonymous said...

Anon 7:25 --

While there is value in declining to answer to certain logic, let me say this: We enjoy this blog as a central, centrist cross-section of views and we all support the notion of educational progress and accountability. Parents and students alike read this blog, and some of those parents and students (children, mind you) come from places you may label "downtrodden".

No harm in raising the specter of affluence zones, but when you're discussing what's at stake for kids no matter where they live, and kids are reading this, I would think we'd refrain from using words like "downtrodden" to refer to schools which may not be in your neighborhood. If we're all on the same team, might that come across as divisive, although my guess is that you meant no harm?

Anonymous said...

"It does not taste good but it is a sad fact. There are "Downtrodden places" and "relatively affluent places"? "

There are PTAs in "relatively affluent" areas in DeKalb that have $100,000+ a year budgets. I'm not saying the parents don't work hard to raise these PTA funds, but in many of our communities, a huge PTA fund is never going to happen.

The PTAs in affluent areas can fund what students need but don't get from DeKalb's central administration. I've taught in both "affluent" and "non-affluent" communities, and there is a huge difference.

In addition, students in "affluent" communities are going to score well on the all important standardized tests - that's a given, and boy what a difference that makes in today's educational environment. Less pressure, less paperwork, less inservices after work, less tutorials after school - more congratulations on a job well done.

Title 1 funds are supposed to equalize the playing field, but as you can see from the "Hollywood" trip, Title 1 funds are used as a piggy bank by the DeKalb administration.

It's much more difficult for teachers in Title 1 schools to get the necessary equipment, supplies, field trip money, etc. for their students than it is for teachers with "affluent" PTAs to obtain those resources.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am not anon 7:25, but I do work in a school that he/she might consider to be "downtrodden". While it is not the most PC choice of words, it is an accurate description of some of the schools in DCSS. I doubt that anyone here believes that the students and their families are "downtrodden", but that their schools, and resources available to them are. It's a shame and while at this point we are all speculating on where Central office staff will be relocated, it is something to consider once they are. If it were me, and I was taking a pay cut my one plea would be to choose the school where I was relocated to.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:25 --

I really understand what you are saying.

I also think that this is also what allows the politicians and the superintendents to continue the joke in education by playing on our uneasiness about either race or economic status.

At some point, we, regardless of color or social strata, must be real. We need extra teachers and teacher's aides to help close the gap from the green areas of Dekalb or Atlanta. We need classes to be much smaller in at risk schools than in affluent schools.

Funny how affluent people may not want the other people's class size to be smaller at their expense. Even funnier, to me, that people with the educational obstacles are ashamed to get and use appropriate resources.

We might also not measure the gap by continuous and worthless testing that compare green and blues.

At some point, we might want to make sure every school has a decent building in the red and blue areas.

An African-American law professor said that someone with $100 000 in the bank will likely to better as a defendant than a person with $10 000 in the bank. This is not racism, it is a fact.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Someone is attempting to bring class and/race into this conversation.


Anonymous said...


Look up a zip code or a cluster of zip codes with homes ON THE AVERAGE selling for more than $300000. The school that serves this/these zip codes is affluent.

Are you being fair?

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom 8:21, what is the point of naming affluent schools? I'm not sure where these comments are going or why.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I suspect there is an appropriate way to discuss race and class with regards to education in Dekalb County.

With truth and respect, everything is possible.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom I am anon 7, 8:05, and 8:30. I am NOT the Anon who has asked you about home prices or made the original comment about downtrodden schools.

I think we've gotten off track with the discussion.

Guess I need to pick an anon name...

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:24 pm

Relax. The posters on this blog are just stating the reality of a divided school system.

Hopefully, this budget crunch will help pull us together. If that happens, our kids will be better off because of it.

Let's concentrate on getting a Central Administration that spends our tax dollars wisely, something that's not happening now. That will also benefit every kid in our county. That's why we have a school system in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, you really should post this article in the ajc "Get Schooled" blog. It's title is
"Education professor: Schools are pressure cookers ready to explode"

Cerebration said...

Wow guys - I feel like Alice in Wonderland - what in the heck are you all talking about?!!

If it's true that Lewis plans to release first year teachers at Dunwoody HS and replace them with Central Office staff - we really REALLY need to have a chat about that. That would be just plain unacceptable. Like you all say - there is always a need for teachers in the fall - let them fill those slots - by application. In the meantime - if we can't afford the central office positions - they should be cut. They should NEVER be allowed to bump someone else perceived as "lower" in rank.

Anonymous said...

If you enter "classroom database" in the ajc search box, you can find the details about each classroom of every school in the state and how many answers were changed from wrong to right, etc. Teachers who know how many students they had last year can see the erasure rates for each section of the CRCT. I was curious about my class erasure rate and now I know that none of my classes were flagged. Very interesting if you are patient enough to find the information.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - Gloria Talley is moving to Lexington SC to take a job at a 20,000 student school system.

Meanwhile, this article cites that there are 32 teaching jobs that need to be filled in DeKalb.

Why are the Central Office personnel not filling these jobs?

Are DHS teachers being "terminated" to make room for these Central Office personnel?

Dekalbparent said...

I think the discussions of "relatively affluent" and "not affluent" are relevant.

Anon 2/15 7:57 gets to the point - there are areas in DeKalb where the PTA can raise enough funds to provide the tools the teachers need to teach the way they think is best, and, often, the parents have the time to be a part of their child's educational preparation, and/or provide the outside help their child needs.

There are areas where this is not the case, and these schools' PTAs cannot provide the funds, and the parents cannot provide the out of school support, whether they want to or not. These are the schools (and this is Anon 7:57s salient point) where Title I is supposed to work toward filling in the gaps - giving the teachers the tools they need. But in DCSS, the funds are being used for things that do not directly support the teachers in the schoolhouse.(I must reserve judgement on whether sending teachers to a conference is a waste, although sending a lot of people very far away may not have been the most beneficial). There HAS to be a qualitative difference in working in "relatively affluent" and "not affluent" neighborhood schools.

The relevance to the topic at hand is that there there are schools in DeKalb and elsewhere where the CRCT scores would likely be disappointing due to a number of factors beyond the classroom teacher's control, and the administration does not want to see this. In DeKalb, there seems to be a blurring of the boundary between ethical and questionable behavior, so people wonder...

Anonymous said...

Everyone, please, please stop this blog in-fighting and re-focus on the fact that this administration needs to make MAJOR budgets, yet Lewis and his cronies will do everything in their power to make sure the Central Office stays an overstaffed power base.

We need parents, teachers and even students to make sure this BOE will put the focus back on the classroom and safe well maintained school buildings. Not spending tens of millions on an army of bureaucrats and so-called specialists. It's all goes back to the student and teacher and involved parents and well-maintained school buildings. Everything else is secondary!

Anonymous said...

Good point. 6,200 support and admin personnel when we only have 7,000 teachers is ridiculous and unsustainable.

Dr. Lewis and the BOE need to do some cutting, consolidating and outsourcing in the support and admin area.

I am shocked that they are letting teachers go when almost half our personnel do not teach. I wrote every BOE member last week. I've heard back from 3 of them as of today. I urge you to write every BOE member. Here they are. Click on their pictures to write them. Have your neighbors and friends write them:

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait a second. Why is Talley giving notice now that she is retiring on June 30th? That's only five weeks before the start of the next school year! Crawford Lewis should say to Talley, finish out the school year in May, and then that's it. We're going to pay her for all of June, when the new person should be in there prepping for the new school year! Please don't tell me Talley's replacement will be on staff and paid that $163k salary while Talley is still on our payroll!

I tell you this, not one of us
teachers will miss Gloria Talley, and we would love to see the 545 instructional supervisors/specialists go with her!!

DeKalb County Schools' top administrator salaries (does not include benefits or travel allowance):

Superintendent Crawford Lewis: $255,000
Chief of staff Alice Thompson: $124,049
Deputy chief superintendent of operations Robert Moseley: $165,035
Chief operations officer Pat Pope: $194,850*
Deputy chief superintendent of business operations Ramona Tyson: $165,035
Deputy superintendent of school administration: vacant
Deputy superintendent of teaching and learning Gloria Talley: $165,035
Chief human resources officer Jamie Wilson: $165,035
Chief financial officer Marcus Turk: $165,035
Associate superintendent of instructional transition Wendolyn Bouie: salary unavailable
Associate superintendent of support services Tim Freeman: $124,049
Associate superintendent of support services Felicia M. Mitchell: $125,284
Associate superintendent of teaching and learning: vacant
Area assistant superintendent Beth Heckman: $117,729
Area assistant superintendent Terry Segovis: $122,195
Area assistant superintendent Debra White: $122,195
Area assistant superintendent Ralph Simpson: $122,195
Area assistant superintendent Horace Dunson: $122,195
Area assistant superintendent Ken Bradshaw: $110,827Source: Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon 10:10 ! My goodness, enough already about affluent and non affluent, downtrodden, high rent..... How about lets all focus on the equitable distribution of shrinking resources in our county ?
The magnet and montessori parents are e-mailing and calling board members daily, showing up to present letters to CLew to save their programs. No wonder neither he nor the board members have the fortitude to take them on.... We are losing sight of the potential changes to help ALL of the children in the county.

There will always be some with bigger homes, some with more disposable income, but we can all love our children and ask for what we deserve from DCSS. That is, a system that offers the best it can give for each and every student, all 100,000 of them.

Maybe then we wouldn't have to be speaking of cheating on the CRCT..... But, rest assured if we sit back , fight amongst ourselves we will allow decisions to be made that do not pay attention to the needs for all schools.

Anonymous said...

Without question study after study prove that a single indicator in how well one does in school has a direct correlation to socioeconomic status. Poor kids as a whole don't do well, rich kids as a whole do.

This shouldn't be a discussion about bashing Dunwoody Mom (assuming the bashing is because "Dunwoody" has an indrect relationship to wealth), or DeKalb's haves/have-nots; instead it could be a useful forum for exchange between educators, administrators, parents and student about finding positive solutions in light of real challenges -- wealth disparity, low tax revenues, and growing lack of confidence in leadership.

As best we can, let's try to focus our energies on real solutions, as only these will benefit our students in the long run. And I think that is the only objective of the majority of bloggers like myself.

Anonymous said...

Here is a comparison between 2004 salaries and 2009 salaries:
2004 salary 2009 salary
LEWIS,CRAWFORD $112,074 $287,991.63
REID,PATRICIA A $100,010 $197,592.50
CALLAWAY,FRANKIE B $106,698 $165,035.69
MOSELEY,ROBERT G $106,698 $165,035.69
TALLEY,GLORIA S no data available $165,035.69
TURK,MARCUS T $75,558 $165,035.69
TYSON,RAMONA H $99,960 $165,035.69
WILSON,JAMIE L $85,502 $165,035.69
SATTARI,DARYUSH $49,451 $147,539.80
MITCHELL,FELICIA M $96,354 $125,284.87
FREEMAN,TIMOTHY W $106,598 $124,049.27
GILLIARD,WANDA S $102,594 $124,049.27
THOMPSON,ALICE A $99,960 $124,049.27
NORRIS-BOUIE,WENDOLYN $100,060 $122,345.84
DUNSON,HORACE C $90,606 $122,195.84
SEGOVIS,TERRY M $93,888 $122,195.84
SIMPSON,RALPH L $95,826 $122,195.84
WHITE,DEBRA A $90,426 $122,195.84
RHODES,CHERYL L $88,804 $121,202.40
FREEMAN,SUSAN L $85,578 $120,844.00

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just have to add one more bloated salary to the list. Not about this ( understood )and nothing personal but, really,

Mrs Pat Copeland at $109,091 to supervise the Magnet programming and infamous lottery administration..

I do believe that educators should be paid well for what they do. However,do yourself an ahhh haaaaa favor, if you have not taken a look at the salaries of the classroom teachers, do so, Then compare to the county positions, promise that you will be enlightened.

Anonymous said...

Pat Copeland
2004 $78,302
2009 $109,091

$30,789 (39%)increase in 5 years
or 7.8% salary increase per year.

Have our teachers increased their salaries 7.8% each year for 5 years?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, let me make sure I understand what you said and I apolgize for the paraphrasing:

It is the teachers job to teach your child to read. It is the parent's job to support the teachers.

Did I get that close to right?

If so, I truly beg to disagree.

If you have abdicated your child's total education to a school system, public, private or other no matter how great the staff in my mind has done your child a tremendous disservice and put them in an "at risk" category!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:25 pm

For current salary information go to this address:

As for the 2004 salary information I used for my comparison, I took that .pdf file off the Internet from the Georgia Audit website 2 years ago.

Amazing how the salaries have increased. Now you can see why DeKalb admin and support personnel are anxious to cut schoolhouse positions. I just included a few employees in my salary comparison. There are 223 employees who make over $100,000 a year. They account for over $25,000,000 in salaries (not even counting benefits - 20% to 25% override).

No wonder DeKalb teachers are demoralized, and our students are packed like sardines into classrooms.

Cerebration said...

Amazing numbers, Anon - excellent research and data. So glad you held on to those old salary schedules and so glad you shared them here. It's really eye-opening to see just how highly Crawford Lewis seems to value his inner circle. Wow. Just wow.

Anonymous said...

I started out comparing the top 50 and discovered every single one of them were still with the county (I only included a few of the 50 here).

I tried to randomly pick 10 teachers from the 2004 spreadsheet to do a salary comparison for them. That was most shocking. I'll bet 70% of the teachers I randomly picked from the 2004 sheet were gone by 2009.

This is an unacceptable turnover. There is something very wrong in DeKalb to get that kind of teacher turnover. I did a stroke tally of the teachers I saw in 2004 who were not there in 2009.

We are keeping all of our administrators, but our teachers are leaving in droves. Which is worse for children.

It is interesting because 2004 is the year Johnny Brown left and Dr. Lewis became superintendent. Obviously we have increased our admin and support cost at a rate greater than inflation since then.

I'll email you the 2004 salary and travel file if you want it. Is your email

Anonymous said...

Guillard and Callaway are now gone, both retired this Fall.

Those numbers are shocking and go to one of the issues I have with Dr. Lewis. He has increased not only the expenditures on central office personnel but also the number of employees in the central office.

Anonymous said...

The salary increases are indeed shocking, almost horrifying for government jobs.

Except for maybe top management positions based on sales, virtually no industry has experienced such year over year salary increases! And most industries, such as mine, have had significant salary reductions for the last two years. And I mean a wage freeze in 2007, a 5% reduction in 2008 another 5% reduction in 2009 and probably another 5% reduction in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Bebe Joyner was once the board's budget watchdog. She had help from a couple of other board members, also now gone, but the budget was her baby. She became a watchdog when it was evident that the fox was watching the henhouse. Before Lewis, Brown, etc.

The administration strategy is simple, but it works. The super never brings an appointee to the board he doesn't like. And if there's fewer than a majority of board members willing to say "no", suddenly the board member doesn't personally like the appointee. Huge downstream impact.

Ridiculous, but it works when that board member doesn't have four like-minded fellows.

You may be hard-pressed to name three sitting board members who can tell you how the budget pie is sliced, what the amount of reserves should be, etc. without flying for the budget book.

When you speak of changing board leadership, look for your Bebe's of the world -- from cross sections of the county. Because as long as she doesn't have any friends, the administration will continue to drive wedges and load up on expenses.

Cerebration said...

I think your description of the system is right on, Anon 7:51 AM. And yes, Anon 12:56 AM - the email here is

I would really appreciate having those old salary schedules.

And yes, Bebe was terrific!

Anonymous said...

Every school system has its haves and have nots. But, I have seen systems that make it less noticeable.

Some of my friends, in southern Dekalb, are required to buy toilet tissue and soap for the bathrooms! Things like this really confuse me and I'm wondering how we can expect success when we (as a county) are not investing in them?

Education is one area where the squeakiest wheel should NOT be the only one to get the oil. It's time to move to a more centralized financing and PTA system.

Anonymous said...

Not just South DeKalb. North DeKalb parents send in soap and hand sanitizer every year as well.

Anonymous said...

not talking about soap and hand sanitizer for the CLASSROOM....they do that too! They ALSO supply all of the soap and tissue for the SHARED bathrooms that are in the halls.

Anonymous said...

Although Title 1 funds do not buy hand sanitizer and soap, they can be spent on equipment, supplies and programs to bring equity to students lower income schools.

Is DeKalb County a good steward of Title 1 funds?

Title 1 funds were used to fund the "Hollwywood" trip - do the teachers in Title 1 schools feel the $380,000 could have made more of an impact on their students if it could have been distributed to the local Title 1 schools?

PTA parents work very hard for their PTA funds, even in "affluent" schools. Every dollar is spent on the students in that school, and teachers, parents and local school admin personnel decide where those funds are going to be spent. The "admin overhead" for funds is zero.

Consider the millions in Title 1 dollars that come to DeKalb County Schools. A portion is given to each Title 1 school, but many millions are held back to be spent on programs like the scripted teaching programs such as America's Choice ($8,000,000) Springboard. Springboard was taken out of the 2009-10 General Operations budget, and given back to Title 1 schools with - guess what? Title 1 funds paying for it to the tune of $1.4 million a year).
See DeKalb's website:

I do not believe Springboard was a program many teachers applauded (middle school teachers need to weigh in here). I would imagine that the teachers in the non-Title 1 schools were delighted to see Springboard go by the wayside for their schools.

Title 1 funds are not considered part of the General Budget so they get used as a fallback when Central Office administrators need to find extra funding for a program they like.

In addition, the admin costs of administering Title 1 funds is a considerable expense in Central Office personnel salary and benefit costs.

More of Title 1 decisions need to come from the local Title 1 schools and less needs to come from the Central Office. It would be interesting to see all Title 1 dollars follow the students at their respective schools like Gifted dollars follow students now.

Perhaps teachers, parents and admin personnel could use Title 1 dollars in the same way many PTA funds are used in many of the affluent non-Title 1 schools. PTAs are notorious for wanting to make every dollar count. Maybe we need that incentive for Title 1 funds.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 12:45 - So am I hearing you saying that there needs to be someone watchdogging of the Title I funds as closely as a PTA watchdogs its own funds?

Makes a lotta sense to me.

Would this mean that the Title I watchdog needs to be NOT beholden to the rest of DCSS Admin? Has to be able to challenge spending that does not benefit THE CHILDREN. Can this happen - a separate and distinct [smallish] organization that carefully monitors the spending of these funds and reviews requests carefully?

Anonymous said...

I know that in APS the principals are given more leeway in spending Title 1 funds in their own schools and one of the elementary principals spent these funds to outfit the entire school with Promethean boards. This was about 4 years ago and the teachers were excited and on-board with the idea. The kids love it and as far as classroom performance they are all very involved (don't know how this has impacted AYP). The cost to outfit the entire school? $150,000 in Title 1 funds, or less than half what was spent to send 40 actual classroom teachers to Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:45 pm

I hadn't thought of a "watchdog" over the funds. I'm sure what DeKalb County does with Title 1 funds is within the federal guidelines of Title 1. DeKalb Schools already have a Title 1 Office with a number of DeKalb Schools personnel staffing it. And there are no doubt some economies of scale for supplies, equipment and programs purchased with Title 1 funds on a countywide level.

The point is the schools would probably like the decision making to be closer to the local school level i.e. more of the money hitting the local level rather than the countywide Title 1 level. That would give the teachers and admin at the local level greater latitude to purchase equipment, supplies, and programs that would benefit their particular students. The closer you get to the end user, the more closely any fund expenditure is scrutinized.

I was just pointing out that when Dr. Lewis has a difficult time funding something out of the General Operations fund, he can always go to Title 1 - as if those funds don't count in DeKalb's budget (e.g. "Hollywood trip", America's Choice, Springboard, etc..

If the bulk of your fund expenditure decisions can occur at a Central Office level, then local school admin and teaching staff don't need to be consulted about their particular students' needs. The local schools are left with whatever trickles down to them.

We pay our Central Office administration (very well)to make these decisions. If we don't think they are good decisions, we need to press the BOE to make changes.

You have to ask if a "watchdog" is one more bureaucratic layer. If personnel changes are made at the highest level in DeKalb, then hopefully we will not have any need for a "watchdog".

themommy said...

I am sorry, but are you saying that Springboard is still being used in the Title 1 Middle Schools?

Anonymous said...

The Dekalb Schools website says for the 2009 - 10 budget it was moved out of the General fund and over to Title 1 to save General fund money. Of course anytime you use Title 1 money you can't use the program for nonTitle 1 schools. I assumed it was still being used in Title 1 schools because of the info I read on the DeKalb Schools website.

Anonymous said...

I'd like Thomas Bowen to show me the instructional support that Gloria Talley is providing to teachers in DCSS! (Vide the AJC about replacing Talley.) I see no instructional support from Talley and the central office nor from our local principal, who could care less for teachers and their concerns.

Methinks our principal is (or was, until the new budget) in line for one of those $150K plus jobs serving coffee to Lewis and removing his coat after one of his pompous musical, "hail-to-the-chief" processionals to the podium at speaking events.

Unfortunately, my school is a microcosm of the favoritism, mismanagement, and fiscal irresponsibility in the central office. I'm afraid we'll go down when the bigshots go down.

Dekalbparent said...

No - I was not proposing another layer of bureaucracy!! Heaven forefend!! What I was envisioning is that the Title I funds be as thoughtfully spent as the individual PTAs spend their funds. This would mean as close to the end user as possible. The difficulty with this vision is that the person(s) overseeing the disbursal would have to be "independent" of the DCSS bureaucracy, and able to say NO to ridiculous spending...

At our school, the departments and/or individual teachers write requests for the PTA funds. They explain what they need and why they need it, and the PTA as a whole votes on it - both whether to fund it and whether they can afford to fund as much as was requested.

What I was thinking of is something like this, but with the schools requesting the funds. Economy of scale definitely is important - I would suspect that there are things that most of the schools would request.

The imaginary piece of this is that the

Anonymous said...

DCSS and every school system should be required to post online how every single penny of Title I funds are spent each year. Every single penny, even it's a dinner receipt from a certain conference in Hollywood, CA.

Anonymous said...

@ dekalbparent 5:27 pm

The whole Central Office culture is very top down, rarely asking teachers what they need so that probably needs to change before you'll see a change in how the tens of million of dollars of Title 1 funds are dispersed.

It's up to the Central Office administration to decide the ratio of funding as pertains to local schools decisions versus Central Office decisions.

There have been years when millions are left over from Title 1, and Central Office personnel look around to see what can be done with those funds. They have made some last minute costly decisions that did not turn out too well at the local level.

At the local level, many of the schools do have a team similar to your PTA team. The principal asks faculty members what the students need and he/she uses Title 1 funds based on their recommendations.

Some principals use committees, some use department recommendations, and some do ask teachers to write up requests. The point is that decision making as to the expenditure of Title 1 funds at a local level seems to be much nearer to actual classroom needs versus what the Central Office thinks is classroom needs. Most Title 1 decision makers in the local schools operate more like the local school PTAs in more "affluent" schools, close to the bone and anxious to seek input from the end users.

DeKalb County needs to look closely at the expenditure of Title 1 funds. Most of our schools are Title 1 schools. If you go to the Dekalb Schools website, you will see that based on 2008-09 figures (most recent available on the website):
54 out of 82 elementary schools are Title 1 or 70%
14 out of 20 Middle schools are Title 1 or 70%
14 out of 22 high schools are Title 1 or 63%

These figures have no doubt risen exponentially as the economy has worsened. Many articles in the newspaper deal with the rising "free and reduced price lunch" applications as so many Dekalb citizens have lost their jobs

Becoming a Title 1 school is based on a set percentage of your school qualifying for "free or reduced price lunch" figures. Schools with a percentage of 40 percent or more may choose to be a Title I schoolwide, while schools with a percentage of 40 percent down to 35 percent are designated as targeted assisted schools.

Title 1 will be the only part of DeKalb Schools revenue that increases in the near future so fiscal prudence is of paramount importance.

The current administration should allocate a greater percentage of the decision making of these funds to the local schools.

I am increasingly uncomfortable with statements from Dr. Lewis that this program or that training session trip doesn't cost DeKalb anything since it's paid for by Title 1.

Title 1 funds are only available because of our students. If our students did not need this money, we wouldn't qualify for it. Title 1 funds cannot be considered "found money."

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:29 PM, you fail to mention that we have no way of knowing how inflated the FRL numbers really are, because DCSS staffers coach parents to claim FRL when they might not be. Somebody has to pay the taxes that pay for Title 1. I don't want to pay one penny extra for Title 1 if the numbers aren't accurate.

Anonymous said...

In my oppinion, all flagged classroom should be investigated, not just those on the “moderate” or the “severe” list. Could it be that some schools on the “clear” or “minimal” list were just better cheaters. They could have concentrated all of their “bubble students” in one or two homerooms and made all of the erasures only in those classrooms. For instance, if you look at McNair Middle School, a school that has made AYP for the first time ever last year, there were 3 eighth-grade homerooms that were flagged for math. One of the homerooms had a very large class size (34 students) and 315 answers were changed from wrong to right. The most wrong-to-right changes for a single student was 29, and the class average of WTR erasures was 9.265. The OSA has assigned a numerical value for each flagged classroom to indicate the severity of the flag. This homeroom’s number was unusually high: 21.08. Click on this link to see the details about this particular class: . It is a huge difference between being just 3 standards deviations above the average compared to 6,7, or 8 SDs. There are many other similar examples at other schools as well. On the other hand, I have seen classrooms from schools of “moderate concern” who have been flagged for having less than 3 erasures on average for that class, yet they will be investigated simply because their school has made the “moderate list”. It is simply unfair to single out only the 191 schools, and not even question tens or hundred of worse offenders from the other schools. Educators with less erasures who could lose their certifications as a result of this scandal, could sue for discrimination if other worse offenders are not penalized.

Anonymous said...

When are parents held accountable for students not passing the CRCT?

Parents: Why should a teacher have to teach your child how to spell his/her name at school?

Shouldn't that be something learned at home?

I learned my ABC's at home. My parents taught me how to read before I entered any teacher's classroom.

Teachers spend too much instructional time in the classroom providing life lessons instead of GPS. I'm an educator and I had to spend several unplanned minutes just to explain to many students what "wax paper" was when teaching a Science lesson on light (translucent).

There are so many parents who totally rely on the school systems to do parts of their jobs as parents: teaching manners, respect, how to follow directions when given the first time, working well with others, and what "wax paper" is. (Don't let me get started on discipline.)

All of this interrupts the teaching of the real GPS content that teachers are required to teach.

However, I encourage ALL teachers to keep your documentation on students that you spend a considerable amount of time with teaching outside of the GPS. Keep your documentation of letters to parents concerning these deficiencies. Some things should be taught at home and it should be made known the number of students that arrive in your classroom without those home based skills. Keep a folder and when your CRCT scores return and Johnny did not pass, you can prove that Johnny made some gains, and you taught him well from where he was when he arrived in August. He did not meet the requirements because you spent "X" amount of weeks teaching him how to spell his name correctly or phonics even though he is in the fourth grade.

Cerebration said...

An update on the Atlanta Public Schools and others being investigated by the state for cheating

Perdue to appoint investigator to look at Atlanta schools

Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday that he's appointing a special investigator with subpoena powers to get to the bottom of alleged cheating in Atlanta Public Schools.

"It is unfair to any student who has been cheated to let this linger," Perdue told the state Board of Education.

The results will be presented to the board, the governor said.

"If the results warrant, they also will be forwarded to law enforcement for possible criminal investigation," he said.

Perdue made a rare appearance before the state Board of Education over alleged

cheating in Atlanta public schools, calling it "a sad day."

"I know you share my deep disappointment with the results. To this day, we still have not gotten to the bottom of what was revealed in the 2009 CRCT results," Perdue told the board.