Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What is Dr. Lewis thinking?

As we've been discussing on the CRCT cheating thread, Dr. Lewis has responded to criminal and unethical acts by two of his administrators by encouraging ALL of DCSS employees to send them a letter of support. The post below was sent to us anonymously.


The release of this memo to the DCSS staff and faculty is a clear sign that his loyalty is to the employees and not to the students of DCSS. It is yet another example of very poor judgment. The students whose grades were inflated are the real losers in this. In all likelihood, they did not receive the special services they would have been entitled to as Level 1 math students when they entered middle school. In fact, parents were not even given the heads up that their child might need to repeat the 5th grade.

I am certain that Dr. Lewis didn’t want criminal charges pressed against the two administrators and I have to admit that I wonder how, when DeKalb has such huge crime issues, Ms. Fleming found the time to rush this through. Additionally, the AJC has certainly has focused most of their attention on DeKalb because this is the only system that has taken action. In fairness, the AJC ought to have on the front page, each and every day, an update from Fulton, Atlanta and Glynn counties until it is resolved. Regardless, though, it is in very poor taste that Dr. Lewis is so publicly advocating for the administrators.

This attitude is an example of why public education can’t get any better. Second, third and forth chances for each and every educator are the norm. Dr. Lewis (and many others like him) have no ability to hold adults accountable.

Here is the memo:

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.


No Duh said...

The wrongness of all this wrongness is just so wrong!!

Bigger questions...

What motivates a person to cheat?


Why were the administrators afraid for the children to fail?

Don't make AYP, lose $$$, reputation decreases, could lose job.

Why does the school need to meet AYP?


Has NCLB done what it was created to do?

If it was created to continuously lower standards throughout the states, create ridiculously low cut scores, push uneducated students through the system, turn school administrators into criminals and waste time and effort, then YES!

If it was created to provide a quality education to all children and bring all children up to a common educational standard, then NO!

One Fed Up Insider said...

Dunwooy Mom... I hate to disagree with you. But as teachers and administrators all employees (DCSS and state) have to take a class on how to administer the test. We have to sign stating that we know that if we give answers change answer we will lose our liscense and could face criminal charges. You should see all the items we have to read through.

He knew what he was doing. He just thought that he would not get caught. He also knew the consiquences if he got caught. He gambled and lost.

Sorry if I misspelled a lot of things. Been up all night with a sick child. Going to bed know.

Again, I will say that what CLew did was wrong and if I did something like that I would be fired. You can't have double standards and that is what DCSS leads by.

Open+Transparent said...

Coverage from the AJC:

DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis issued a memo Wednesday to school system employees urging them to rally around two longtime administrators accused of altering results on the high-stakes CRCT.

In an interview late Wednesday, Lewis said he stands by his decision to send out the memo.

“These people are devastated,” he said. “They do have families. They do have children.”

He said the two, both 20-plus-year employees, have been “annihilated” by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in its recent coverage of the investigation and their arrests.

“They’re not rapists. They’re not murderers,” the superintendent said.


Crawford Lewis has crossed the line. His tenure as super needs to end. Now.

And get this: "Doretha Alexander, the school’s assistant principal, was reassigned."

You and I are still paying Alexander's salary??!! She committed a crime and seriously breached the trust of every Atheron student and parent.

Yet Crawford Lewis is making sure she still gets our tax money.

Berry and Alexander are "annihilated"???. Don't do the crime if ya can't do the time.

They made a choice to cheat. It's on them. Nothing is topping Berry and Alexander from getting a job somewhere else in another profession. But they lost sweet $100,000 plus per year gigs. Boo hoo.

Crawford Lewis, Gloria Talley, Bob Moseley and Ron Ramsey made a chice to ignore the impossible test score increases.

It's over for you and your administration, Crawford Lewis. Over.

Step up Board of Education members. Do the right thing and end this travesty now.

No Duh said...

"You and I are still paying Alexander's salary??!! She committed a crime and seriously breached the trust of every Atheron student and parent."

I'll agree to that O&T and up it to what they really did -- breached the trust of every citizen, parent, and student in DeKalb county and all the colleges any of them want to get into.

Fear is rampant in DCSS -- do we really think only two fearful employees in DCSS perpetrated this kind of act? They are just the two idiots who cheated TOO much.

themommy said...

O and T

There is this article that really makes you ill...

Unfortunately, government employees are afforded due process rights -- first she has to be proven guilty. (Berry confessed, I believe.)

Cerebration said...

Dr Lewis is not a preacher - he's a school administrator. Those children were cheated. The parents were cheated. Everyone was led to believe that Atherton school was doing a bang-up job - and little did they know that the children were actually failing! How can anyone do that with a clear conscious - just to save your own $$$$ salary?!! Right off the backs of those kids. But does Dr Lewis admonish these people for cheating these kids? NO - he too is apparently more concerned with the adults making a high income than actually and honestly delivering the goods...This letter was inappropriate IMO. A leader should never defend people in his organization who break the law. This sends a wrong message. A very wrong message.



Surely we can find an honest person to hold that position with respect.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm not in the system anymore, but I know what many teachers around me would have done with Dr. Lewis' e-mail. They would do exactly as he said - e-mailed Berry and Alexander. Their tone would NOT be quite what Dr. Lewis intended.

They would ask them to resign, that they harmed the children, that they should face consequences. Teachers are big about consequences; we deal with children every day, and children screw up, and they face consequences from their teachers and administrators.

Teachers don't think that just because you are an administrator, you get a pass. Personally, I don't think jail time is appropriate, but losing their certificates, their pensions, and their ability to be a part of the education system - that's enough.

Open+Transparent said...

Thank you Anon 9:25 AM. That was an insightful, awesome post. DCSS has some very, very strong teachers, who would never ever consider changing a child's test scores.

Crawford Lewis goes out of his way over and over again for disgraced DCSS administrators, but would never do the same for teachers.

Probably because Lewis has been a DCSS administrator way too long. It's time he's given the boot. His behavior on this matter is shameful and unprofesional.

Cerebration said...

As far as I'm aware, Berry and Alexander knew that what they were doing would result in losing their license if caught. They took that risk. However, I am most concerned that these folks have sent children on to middle school thinking that they are prepared and tested well. They are about to hit a wall - and the middle school teachers would not have known how ill-prepared these students are without the investigation and resulting revelation about the cheating.

I mean - think about it - this guy had to have carried a stack of papers into his office or home and sat there with a number 2 pencil erasing the kids answers and replacing them with correct answers (well - about 70% correct... many of his changes went from wrong to wrong if you check the state's report.)

Now along comes Dr Lewis who has the opportunity to express grave disappointment and set these two up as examples of what will happen when you cheat the students of DCSS - but instead, he asks EVERYONE - in a countywide memo - to send them words of support. I'm sorry, but I just don't get that.

Molly said...

Dunwoody Mom, according to the email that Crawford Lewis sent out, Doretha Alexander did confess. This is directly from his email: "Dr. James Berry and Mrs. Doretha Alexander are good people who made a grave mistake. They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences."

For Crawford Lewis to call this a "mistake" is ridiculous. A mistake is an oversight, something that you might do unintentionally. This was fraud. (Backing into a mailbox is a mistake. Vandalizing a mailbox is a crime.) Asking 13,000 employees to provide moral support to these two is insulting to all the honest and hardworking teachers and administrators who do their job and live with the scores their students actually earned.

Ella Smith said...

IMO, I do not know all the facts and do not want to pass judgement on these two individuals. I hope they are considered suspects until proven guilty. I do not believe the Georgia Professional Standard's Commission who has the authority to take away these individual's teaching and administration license have done an investigation yet to see if their is probable cause to do an investigation.

I do not know for sure if Dr. Berry gave up his job because he was guilty or because he did not want to deal with the situation and it was easier for him to leave to protect the school system. I do not know if Ms. Alexander admitted during anything wrong or not. I do not know what mistakes that these individuals might have made in Dr. Lewis' opinion. I do not know the current mental health issues of these individuals. I do not know the current mental health issues of their families due to the situation.

Regardless of what Dr. Lewis felt about the situation as a professional and all the pain and grief he has had to deal with mentally himself due to this happening there is no doubt he is a very strong caring man to think about the mental welfare of these two individuals and their families.

Regardless if these individuals are guilty or not guilty their lives have been destroyed here on Earth in this county because of this issue. There families lives will be changed forever. We all make mistakes and make bad judgements. As a teacher, and as a follow the line always type of person this was very wrong and it hurt many people. If these individuals are guilty then they have a right to an investigation without bias, a fair hearing, a fair trial and if guilty each of them need consequences for their actions. But, I do think Dr. Lewis' ability to care about these individuals as human beings regardless of the pain this situation has caused him is admirable. I do not know if I would have the strenght to do this. I respect him for his actions. I do not feel he was supporting their actions if involved in the cheating in anyway but instead he was caring about them as human beings who are experiencing great pain with their families curently in the public eye.

Ella Smith said...

Again, I do agree the cheating situation appears to be extremely wrong and it hurts our system. I just hate to pre-judge anyone. I have done so too many times and had knee-jerk reactions and I have been wrong in doing so.

Anonymous said...

Here's a fundamental problem Crawford: "DeKalb County School System is a family, and during difficult times family should come together..."

DCSS isn't a family. It's a billion dollar business employing ~16,000 persons who don't know each other. The only "family" are the friends of Crawford's who are entitled to their inheritance of title or taxpayer money based on daddy Lewis' generosity.

The system isn't going to improve until it has an administration which will approach things from the perspective of running a business for the purpose of educating youth instead of running a feel-good "family" place to work and get a decent paycheck if you're one of daddy's favorites.

Anonymous said...

I must have missed C Lew's memo on extending our support for the family of Jaheem Herrera's death.

Soccer Dad said...


Not to mention unprofessional, undignified, unseemly and defensive.

If this memo is not grounds for the Board of Education to immediately FIRE Crawford Lewis, then what will it take?

The AUSA next door said...

As a federal prosecutor I'll share this:

If Crawford Lewis sent this email to employees under his supervision knowing they'd be witnesses in a criminal prosecution and he was seeking to influence their testimony in favor of the defendants (as it appears he has done here) I would immediately open an investigation of possible witness tampering. It is a felony. And every element of the crime appears to be present in these facts.

Ella Smith said...

AUSA next door, I actually could see this as a possible problem, since he put it in writing and he is there boss. I am trying to not have a knee-jerk decision because I have done so before and have been so sorry. I really do not think this was Dr. Lewis' intent. His intent may have been so different. We all have so many preceptions of what individuals mean when they speak and when they write. Hopefully he will explain more in detail what he meant.

I have seen administrators stand together and seen good teachers hurt because the good teacher stood up to the bad establishment so I know the other side of the story very well. We are talking about the GOOD OLD BOYS/GIRLS OF DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS or of Dekalb County.

It is long been said that the Supertendent of Schools is the most powerful individual in a county. This is a powerful statement coming from a powerful man. I do still feel his concern was for these human beings and their families and the pain that they are going though. The family members are innocent and the suspects have not been found guilty yet. Have we not already tried and convicted them?

Anonymous said...

The criminal case against CLew is not witness tampering. (Although I think it's obvious that IS what he's intending to do with this memo.)

The criminal case against CLew is tax evasion. Every day he makes personal use of his Pcard and car. (He has for years.) But he does not report it as taxable income. (Which it is.) And he does not pay income tax on it. (Which he should.)

THAT criminal case is a slam dunk.

Anonymous said...

from anon12.08

Everyone knew Berry was signing in at Redan High and immediately getting into his Mercedes and driving to the "Drumline" shoot and getting paid $$$$. Not only is that falsification of time sheet for theft of money, but it is also unethical as hell. Open Records Act request could easily show the truth of that. Berry is a known liar, a known cheater. But so is Uncle Crawford. Has he paid the extra $$ for that car he got at a discount for his son?

Fire Crawford Lewis said...

Criminal charges or not, this memo and its author are an embarassment to the School System, its students and the tax payers.

It is time for the members of the Board of Education to do their job and FIRE Crawford Lewis.

Cerebration said...

Ella, reread Dr. Lewis' letter. We are not trying and convicting anyone - they admitted to it...

They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences.

This section bother me - Dr. Lewis - way back when these magical test scores were made known - defended Dr. Berry very vocally and promised that an investigation would be performed, however he insinuated that anyone who suspected Berry had cheated was basically, saying that black children can't make great strides. (Effectively pulling out the race card.) Now - he says this --

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.

Which says to me that he never investigated anything, and further, doesn't believe that these actions should have consequences other than to make people "move on"... The fact that he says the school system was not consulted nor played a role in the arrests makes me have a lack of confidence in his leadership.

Anonymous said...

from anon12.08


A teacher friend at a south DeKalb high school called and told me the person at the County Office in charge of testing named Tony Eitel sent out word to all school testing coordinators to go through every student answer sheet for every standardized test and erase any unnecessary marks and to bubble in information that students did not bubble in.

At my teacher friend's school, she and four other teachers were brought in during their planning period and given #2 pencils and stacks of completed student answer sheets and told to erase stray marks and bubble in information that was not provided by student test takers.

Am I wrong but this seems wrong. I thought once students completed taking a test, that the answer sheets were immediately collected, bundled up, secured and sent off to the proper handlers. If this is true, then ALL standardized tests in DeKalb County should be and are invalid.

Uncle Crawford needs to go!

Kim Gokce said...

@Ella: I agree that Dr. Lewis' intentions may have been guided from the heart. However, his personal sentiments should have been direct to the individuals and the families involved, not to the staff and employees.

@anon12.08: ok, I'm going o rant a bit off topic - apologies to all ...

I get that you do not have respect for Dr. Lewis and I'm ok with that. But I have to be a bit priggish about your choice of insults. Do you have to repeatedly refer to him as "Uncle Crawford?"

Referring to a black man as "Uncle" has been less and less acceptable in polite company as far back as the 1964 Civil Rights Act if not before. Please consider this constructive feedback from someone who wants your ongoing participation.

The monitors of this blog do not have the ability to "bleep" words out of posts but only can delete entire posts. Don't let the your voice be a causality of this type of stuff. While you may not find this type of reference to an African-American as a problem, it is a well established taboo and takes away from the credibility of your posts and this blog.

This is not "my blog" so I'm only offering my opinion. I can't let that kind of language go unchallenged. I hope we can agree that racial slurs are out of bounds here.

How about "Dr. Awful Lewis" or "Crawfish?" Or "CrawDaddy?" Or "Crawlforward?" Or "Dr. Lewsor?" There are infinite choices available to you to insult Dr. Lewis that would past the incendiary test and wouldn't offend common sensibilities.

Kim Gokce said...

@anon12.08: "Am I wrong but this seems wrong."

You are not wrong. If the hearsay proves true, that is an outrage.

No Duh said...

anon 12:08 " bubble in information that students did not bubble in."

Does that mean unanswered questions, or personal info like their name and student #?

If it's fill in answers, I told y'all these two criminals were just the dumb ones.

Ella Smith said...

Celebration you are probable correct. I am just so afraid of making a knee-jerk decision.
I do not want to believe the worst of anyone.

I did have had my close legal counsel review the statement and they do not feel it is witness tapering but do feel it could have been poor judgement and was inappropriate in nature to send out a email like this.

Anon12.08, it is not uncommon for counselors or teachers to review test material for erase stray marks and bubble in information that was not provided by student test takers. Many students do not bubble in their name correctly or leave off bubbling in dates, and test sites, etc. If educators did not go back and bubble there would be problems with scoring the tests and calculating all the overall percentages. Many times the counselors do this.

As a special education teacher I have to fill in basic information frequently. I have to go through also and bubble in the codes on the answer sheets for the disabilities and accommodations. I do check for stray marks to make sure that these stray marks do not hender the students score. I also fill in left off information on the information part if it was not bubbled in correctly. Most times this is already done electronically, and when it is not due to the student being new normally many schools call the student in ahead of time and make sure this information is bubbled in correctly before the test even begins. Many times the counselors do it themself at my school.

As a special education teacher on occassion I bubble in the answer sheet for students who are visually impaired, etc. There is no one else in the room but the student and I so professional code of ethics is extremely important and that is the reason that this is a real serious situation. It is a serious situation because it makes all teachers and administrators and parents questioned the morals and ethics of educators. Most educators are extremely moral and ethical and again a few have made it difficult for the rest of us.

Ella Smith said...

No Duh, I have to believe from experience that this was information needed at the beginning of the test like, test site, date, name, how many times they have taken the test, etc.

Some students also put stray marks everywhere and since these tests are computer graded it is important that this marks be removed. Now from another prospective if these marks are being erased this could look like erased places possible on these sheets in some cases when they could be only stray marks someone erased which had nothing to do with an answer.

Dekalbparent said...

Those test paperes are supposed to be bundled up and put in a secure place. This implies strongly to me that "stray marks" are not supposed to be erased, and names, student #, are not to be filled in.

Even if you say, "what's the difference? It's just making sure the kid's paper is readable", there can be temptation to fix "just one or two little things" while you are there. You want your school to look good. You want the teachers to look good. You want your class to look good.

When I worked in DCSS, I never was asked to touch papers, but then again, all the papers went to the AP's office, so who knows what might have happened.

There was also the time when ALL the test papers were misplaced and could not be found for about 1/2 hour...


Ella Smith said...

KIM: I agree that Dr. Lewis' intentions may have been guided from the heart. However, his personal sentiments should have been direct to the individuals and the families involved, not to the staff and employees.

I think he may have made a mistake.

Ella Smith said...

Cerebation you are correct.

Dr. Crawford said,"Dr. James Berry and Mrs. Doretha Alexander are good people who made a grave mistake. They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences."

I would suspect that this means that they both were involved but it also could mean as administrators they both are ultimately responsible for what happens at the school regardless of who committed the crime. If Ms. Alexander admits being involved with the changes she will definely be fired.

Soccer Dad said...

They both acknowledged their involvement and accepted their consequences.

FALSE. One admitted, one denied. Neither has pled guilty to the state court criminal charges against them.

While we do not condone their actions in any way, they should be allowed to move on with their lives.

FALSE. Both are charged with state crimes for which they will be tried. If they want to 'move on with their lives' they can plead guilty and accept their punishment. Or, they can cut a deal with prosecutors and testify against Crawford Lewis in exchange for a reduced penalty.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me a bit if those papers which were changed belonged to a relative of a school system employee or board member. Someday someone will learn that nepotism doesn't pay off!

Fire Crawford Lewis said...

Soccer Dad nails it. Face facts, people. Crawford Lewis is a LIAR.

Cerebration said...

Alright, alright, we're starting to remind me of the raging crowds that assemble in every episode of the "Twilight Zone"... Down, dogs, down.

I too believe that Dr Lewis is a sensitive, caring person (unless you're talking to him about Wayne Chelf, then he has no sympathy whatsoever...) At any rate, that's all well and good - but that's not what his job requires. His job requires him to remove and punish anyone in his employ who breaks laws or rules of ethics. It's tough - but it's required when you are the big boss.

At any rate - what's next? There's not much else to talk about - except to make our Board write very specific Code of Conduct for administrators - apparently, even though they are well aware of testing rules, they still manage to feel justified and untouchable. Why on earth would anyone take such a dumb risk? Ego, I think.

Of course, Governor Sanford now takes the cake on dumb risk!

Ella Smith said...

I have worked for Dekalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools, Gwinnett County Schools, out of state schools in Florida, Ky. and North Carolina and being a protor for a test was the same at all locations for as long as I can remember.

After testing, you are asked to go through, put the tests papers in alphabetical order many times, check to make sure the student has completed all the data to start with and bubbled in the correct information and if they have not you are responsible to do it, and you are to check for any stray marks that you see and erase them before you turn them in. Normally counselors do the same things once receiving them.

Answers are not changed on the tests ever hopefully. That would be unethical. In fact we are given normally very little time to do this so I am sure it is never done very sufficiently but this has always been a duty and responsibility when proctoring a test. We also have to note any irregularities.

Apparently someone did not report some irregularities at one school in Dekalb County and this is why we are in this mess.

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration your comments are correct and hit the nail on the head.

The Code of Conduct is there currently. The problem appears to be the inside Good OLD BOYS/GIRLS Systems and those that protect each other in the system.

Recently I talked to an administrator about a situation similar were I felt the law was not followed and I questioned the decision and I was told that as an administrator they have the right to make whatever decision they want. After my conversation, I left realizing that this was correct. Administrators can do whatever they want. They can break the laws and make decisions without considering the laws that are there to protect individuals and they are placed in positions of authority to do this. This is why I wrote the article a few weeks ago able how important good principal are, how hard it is becoming to find them, and in my opinion it is reasonable to pay them possible bonuses for producing improved test scores.

My question was to an administrator recently regarding hiring coaches at their school. I asked if they have to advertise at their school and at least look at the available individuals and their qualifications before they make a decision. I was told that this was an appointment and qualifications did not matter. They could appoint whomever they wanted. I thought about this and it was really scary to me. They could appoint someone who knew nothing about athletic injuries or practicing in heat and my child or some other child could be hurt seriously or killed. I decided to fight politically to have this changed so administrators could not just appoint someone without looking at all the qualified individuals on their staff who might be interested.

Do principal need to have to answer closely to a supervisor or should they have more local control? This is also an interesting questions?

If all the administrators at the county office including Dr. Lewis got out of their office during testing and were require to be in testing sites supervising testing we would not have this situation.
The school board could set a policy requiring ALL administrators are required to leave the county office and go into the school houses and help supervise testing. The school houses need the help and this would prevent this type of problem from happening again.

Anonymous said...

from anon12.08


I remember when I took the SAT many, many years ago. It was common knowledge that you received x-number of points just for filling in your name and such properly. Part of taking a standardized test is taking the standardized test. The STUDENT fills in the answer sheet, not the teacher or some other adult. If that is commonplace, well, then, that's one reason why there's so many problems with standardized testing. If the student does not know how to bubble in correctly or what his address or name is or the school code or any of that stuff, well, then, whose problem is it? The school's? Society's? Hell. Students take all these classes to do better on these standardized tests. Why not teach them how to bubble in and what the right codes are BEFORE they take the actual tests?

This is the year of the census. Census forms are being mailed out to households across America. If the forms are not correctly filled out (or are not filled out at all), then warm bodies fan out across the 50 states to find out the information that is missing. If student answer sheets are unscorable and lacking information, then those students are flagged for the RETEST and/or for TUTORING FOR THE RETEST. If we truly want to know what kids know on standardized tests, let the kids take the tests and let the adults monitor for CHEATING. All else be done away with. The kids turn in the answer sheets, the answer sheets are bundled up and secured, and the answer sheets are then sent to the scoring service. Otherwise, why bother with the whole insane activity in the first place? It's all about doling out greenbacks. If we can't have secure standardized testing, then do away with it and dole out the money based on the number of students receiving free lunch.

Peace out.

Cerebration said...

Listen to some of the outrageous lies perpetrated by Dr. Berry quoted in the AJC -

...Atherton Principal James Berry said the scores were the product of intense tutoring. ...

In an interview, principal Berry said the school made a tremendous summer-school effort to address failing students’ weaknesses.

“This was all but giving blood,” he said. “I pulled out every stop known to man.”...

Asked whether he had any concerns about test security or score validity, Berry said: “Oh my God, I hope not. I know the people that I chose were pretty honest. I would hope that that wasn’t the case. Well, I can honestly say to you that I don’t think that that was the case at all.” ...

Atherton originally placed in the 10th percentile among Georgia fifth grades on the math test, meaning 90 percent of the 1,200-plus schools scored better, the newspaper’s study shows.

After the retest, Atherton jumped to the 77th percentile. The move was unduplicated by any school statewide.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cerebration said...

Atherton is a school that is simply broken. Dr. Berry should have been one of the under-performing principals removed by Dr. Lewis in May. Someone should have gotten a $10,000 bonus to take his place and turn this school around. These children have really lost out.

Check out their grade level scores -

"GOSA also inquired as to why the 5th grade students at Atherton were considerably more successful in mathematics than the students in other grade levels. In 2007-08, the failure rates by grade level on the CRCT in mathematics at Atherton were as follows:

32% of first graders did not meet standards
33% of second graders did not meet standards
69% of third graders did not meet standards
57% of fourth graders did not meet standards
0% of fifth graders did not meet standards; (100% of fifth graders passed the mathematics CRCT)


I mean, really, Dr. Lewis could look at those stats and think that this data is for real?

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, you are correct except we are not talking about students taking the SAT that students or parents pay for. We are talking about a test that stray marks, and misinformation on the front sheet could be the difference between a school making AYP or not. We are talking about a situation if the information is not correct on the front then the child may not be considered present and then the school may not make AYP.

Again, the problem is the whole issue of AYP.

Honestly I do not think their is much of an issue about double checking about this information. That is the job of proctors. IF proctors had more help in the room when they reviewed this information then there would be less chance of problems. IF there where more proctors walking around the room looking for students making stray marks and getting those taking care of in case they are in the wrong place as the test is progressing again there would not be this issue.

Again, lets get the administration and all the county office staff out of the offices to help teachers proctor these tests. IF this is a priority then make it a priority and give the teachers and staff more than enough help at the schools to make sure no one has to spend time going back to make sure things are done correctly. I speak at the July 18th school board meeting and I might suggest this.-

Anonymous said...

Eitel's comments may sound odd, but they are SOP, usually its done before the answer sheets leave the classroom.

In fact, I would not let my kids leave the room until I had checked that their required personal info was on the form, and then I counted every answer sheet, and every test booklet, got back my spare pencils, etc. Only then were the students dismissed. Never would I fill in an answer sheet, nor would I let a kid add answers to ones he left blank, or anything of that nature.

There is ethical treatment of answer sheets, and unethical ones. I worked with the testing coordinator at my old school, and have read Mr. Eitel's directions in the past. I won't say his instructions always made sense in terms of workflow for the school, but I would never say that he was unethical. He has integrity, and his request falls under ethical guidelines.

To remark on Ella Smith's point, which is unrelated to the above. I once had a teacher who was overjoyed about a law that was passed regarding discipline. It allowed a teacher to have a student removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons. The student would be removed, THEN hearings would follow. The teacher had a constant disciplinary issue with a student and went to an administrator to invoke the law. The response from the AP: "Ms. Wxxxx, we don't feel the need to follow that law at this school..." Seriously.
[I'm the same anon at June 25, 2009 9:25 AM. My current situation prohibits me from posting under my own name]

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration, relooking at those comments made by Berry does jog my memory. It will be interesting to see who really made what changes when this situation comes to trail.

Berry felt safe making these remarks. He did apparently feel protected and apparently for good reasons. The whole situation is embarassing to our school system and it should make all employees in the school system made at the reflection this puts on each of them when they are called to proctor a test and abide by the code of ethics.

Cerebration said...

If you guys would watch the episode of the Simpsons posted here, you would see that Bart spends a minute "cleaning up stray marks"... it's funny - for real.

ps - anon - you said "It allowed a teacher to have a student removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons. The student would be removed, THEN hearings would follow."

Good idea - but here's a question -- would TEACHERS stand for the reverse to be true? In all honesty - I completely agree with that premise. There was a really good teacher at Lakeside (male - ex-military) who had a heck of a time with a young male discipline problem in his class. He requested assistance from Mr Chelf and the discipline office almost daily - he got none. Finally, he and the kid ended up in a physical tussle - and guess what - the teacher got fired.

(Course, so did Chelf, but that was for different reasons apparently.)

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, we need to talk sometime. I do not like stuff like that at all. I am sorry this happened to you.

Another answer to the problem in the whole state is that all state testing be done on the computer. All current End-OF-Course Tests are done on the computer and we have experimented with the Georgia High School Test on the Computer. I see this as the answer. No one can tamper with these test. Once they are exported by the student no one has access to them at the school. We do alot more of computerized testing at the high school than the grade schools do but if the grades were given at different times then computer labs could be used in grade schools.

Cerebration said...

Great idea, Ella. I would endorse that - except that we would need a whole lot more computers since everyone takes the test at the same time... Maybe it's time to allocate individual laptops!

Ella Smith said...

In high school this is not a problem because of the labs but in grade school the test would have to be staggered. I do not believe there is access to computers in grade school like in high school.

In grade school it would have to be 3rd grade one week, 5th grade one week, and so on, to be able to do this. The state would also have to come up with additional funds for computer labs for testing which is greatly needed in schools.

Anonymous said...

Back to the Lewis issue. His statements are beyond belief. I don't think there is any other superintendent in the state that would defend two administrators who have admitted involvement in tampering, with enough evidence for criminal charges.

Their action broke every code of conduct and professional ethics for educators. Lewis' judgement needs to be called into question.

This man runs a billion dollar operation that affects every resident in the county, whether they have children in the system or not. The Board of Education has to ask itself some hard questions regarding Lewis' continued employment.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, due to the posts on this website I am sure school board members are communicating back and forth. Before Cerebration started this site this may have gone by unnoticed or it may have taken weeks for this to become a big issue.

Cerebration really has done a great thing. GO GIRL!!!!

It will be interesting to see what shakes out. We have had supers actually get catch in bad situations in the past which made poor judgement calls in their personal life (Dr. Halford) He actually got a DUI and the school board stood behind him and he continued on as the school super.

themommy said...

I am horrified by this memo. Makes me sad and wonder why we pay so much for public relations, BUT

Anon at 12:01 AM, DeKalb is the only system involved in this scandal where anything has happened. Fulton is hiring an independent auditor to try and determine, in part, if the state's analysis is correct!

In Fulton County, officials plan to hire an independent auditor to review the state’s investigation and the test results, said Susan Hale, school system spokeswoman.

“Right now, we’re standing behind the students and teachers and their success,” Hale said.

Anonymous said...

For a few years now, Sequoyah Middle School has been celebrated as turned around for AYP.

2 things the new principal did to make AYP were; reduced the number of Special Needs Students so that there were not enough of them to form a subgroup; (all subgroups must meet the standards for a school to make AYP)this subgroup was the only factor that prevented Sequoyah from making AYP the previous year. The other thing he did was to have the test read to an extraordinarily high number of Latino students (more then 50% of the entire school). Having the passages and question and answers read dramatically improves the chances for success.

Then the following year ago there was a new big push to desseminate the state guidelines as to what level of ESOL students were entitled to have the test read to them.

After that years testing (2008) the rumor spread that Sequoyah was being investigated by the county for reading to too many students.

We all assumed no impropriety was found since the principal still has his job.

Now I'm wondering, does the state know of these potential improprities and have they investigated or is it the same crew from DCSS who also investiagted and praised Principal Berry?

Anonymous said...

My oldest is going to start at a DCSS school in August. I'm seriously re-thinking it after reading Dr. Lewis' remarks on the test cheating scandal.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, we really do have a good school system and I would hate for you not to send your child to the DeKalb County School System because of this memo. Two out of four of my children attending the Dekalb County School System from Kindergarden and one in in college doing extremely well. He still has the HOPE scholarship and the other one is doing extremely well academically also. Both score well on standardize tests after attending the Dekalb County School System. I really hope you reconsider.

Cerebration said...

Anon - any child with supportive parents who help that child at home with homework, projects, extra learning, family fun and tutoring when necessary will do very well in DCSS. If you are an involved parent who is educated enough to help educate your child - your child will do well. Please know that you will have to work with your child with their early reading skills every day and you will most likely have to teach them their times tables - these basic skills are not well tended to in the classroom - there isn't a lot of time for that - too many 'extras' going on.

If you pay attention, are loving, kind and supportive to your child and view the teacher as a partner with whom you will work to educate your child, then your child will do well - as long as your child is not in a really bad school with terrible discipline problems. You don't have to be in a "wealthy" area to enjoy a good elementary school - there are many schools in the system who are low income but the students do very well and the school atmosphere is caring and loving - Medlock, Montclair and Dresden come to mind. Very sweet schools full of caring teachers. Make sure that you are involved in a school with a caring staff.

What goes on that is troublesome in the system usually involves administrators. A caring staff will get the job done in spite of poor leadership.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, thanks for the info about early reading and times tables. Anonymous my oldest starts kindergarten in August too. We looked at a lot of schools including Catholic (got wait listed). We are going with a Theme school due to parental involvement.

Cerebration said...

Anon - you may wish to attend this meeting - we've just been informed about it - there's a wonderful group of people who have been working diligently to start a charter school - looks pretty incredible.

Check out the post about the upcoming info meeting
Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m.
at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church,
4882 LaVista Road in Tucker.

Anonymous said...

News Flash from Illinois--
The Lt. Governor asked all of the state employees to write a memo to express support for Gov Blogo being "tried" in the press after he made a "mistake" and didn't rape or murder someone.

Anonymous said...

In September, members issued their first round of penalties when they suspended former Atherton Principal James Berry for two years and former Atherton Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander for a year. In general discussion Thursday, members indicated they gave Berry a harsher sanction because he confessed. Sanctions by the commission can range from a reprimand to loss of license.


Does anyone know if former Atherton Assistant Principal Doretha Alexander is still on the DCSS payroll? She was switched to an administrative position.

Please tell me that NOT ONE PENNY of our taxpayer dollars is going to pay her salary and benefits when she committed a crime and broke the sacred trust of all Atherton students and parents.

Cerebration said...

In general discussion Thursday, members indicated they gave Berry a harsher sanction because he confessed.

Huh? What's the lesson here?

Kim Gokce said...

"what is the lesson" ...

De Nile is not just a river in Egypt ... it is the preferred self-defense strategy I see everywhere in public life. Only fools like me openly admit when they are wrong. It is very revealing how this case was handled. By denying any guilt in this case, individuals would be protecting DCSS in this way of thinking and should be treated more sympathetically.

I've become rather good at admitting my mistakes ... not so impressive when you consider how many opportunities I have. Perhpas our leaders just haven't had the privilege of being wrong often enough to be good at recognizing it.

Cerebration said...

So – Womack says Lewis is just as good as any executive leader he’s ever had in any of his companies. Well, let’s say that one of his “managers” decided to cheat on the company P&L statement to make his or her department look like they were making a profit, when in fact, they were losing money. Say that manager got caught – would Womack approve of that manager’s boss asking the rest of the company to sent the cheater a sympathy letter? C’mon…

Kim Gokce said...

I noted the "sentence" today for Doretha Alexander. Crime may not pay but denial sure seems to ... "James Berry received two years [probation], with state officials indicating he received a harsher sanction because he confessed."


Former DeKalb official gets community service in school scandal