Cheating investigation shocks parents - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cheating investigation shocks parents

By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – School systems across the state place a lot of importance on CRCT scores. Teachers prepare students months in advance for the  annual test which is designed to measure skills and knowledge.

But school officials changing answers on this test to meet federal standards is not a new issue in Georgia.

"I don't see how they could get away with it," said Shaquita Dismuke.

Dismuke is like many parents in Dougherty County, shocked to learn the school system is under a state investigation for possibly altering test scores.

Dougherty and two other school systems in Georgia were found to have serious issues according to a state audit citing a high number of answers erased and possibly changed.

"I hope it's not true because that would be awful," said Kristie Singleton who learned of the news when she picked up her child from a local middle school.

Similar allegations in Dekalb County led to the arrests of Atherton Elementary principal James Berry and assistant principal Doretha Alexander. Last year, they were charged with altering public documents after an audit determined they changed answers on the 5th grade CRCT math re-test.

"For the answer to be changed on the CRCT, I feel that's ridiculous and these kids are coming for their education," said Singleton.

The CRCT measures academic achievement at the class, school, system, and state levels in grades one through 8. Poor performance can keep a student from being promoted.

If the Georgia Office of Student Achievement finds wrong doing, no individuals will be named. But it would come as a hard lessoned learned.

"The whole school system should work together and do things that are going to help these kids because that's what the problem is. A lot of children need to be told the truth and it needs to be brought out. If this will make a change, then it needs to be done," said Singleton.

In the DeKalb County case, principal James Berry pleaded guilty to the charge of falsifying documents. He received 2-years-probation and a $1000 fine. The case against the assistant principal has yet to go before a judge.

Governor Sonny Perdue wants to tie teacher pay to the performance of their students.

Critics say that could lead to more cases of altered tests.

That's why the governor is also pushing a bill to make changing tests a crime that could cost teachers their pensions.

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