Digging Deeper: CRCT investigation begins August 8th - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: CRCT investigation begins August 8th

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State investigators will arrive August eighth to begin their investigation into CRCT tampering and cheating in the Dougherty County School System.

The Superintendent said he would not tolerate cheating. Now, he's asked anyone with information to come to him, but state investigators say any cheating should be reported directly to them.

Murfree reiterated they won't tolerate any interference in their investigation, but why would teachers or administrators cheat?

Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree says cheating will be punished.

"If they say that they have been cheating and we find names, that we will end their employment immediately, having said that we have no reason or evidence to suggest that the result of our investigation are not reliable and valid," said Dr. Joshua Murfree, Dougherty County School System Superintendent.

State investigators disagree. They've already had cheating confessions. Some parents stand behind Dr. Murfree and his concerns that students be the focus, a parent proctor at Merry Acres found no cheating.

"In the last two years I know cheating has not occurred and it sends a strong statement to a child that they don't have the ability to learn and test and I'm concerned about the impact it will have on my child," said Thelma Johnson, a parent and test proctor.

We dug deeper into the Criterion Referenced Competency Test. The test measures a student's understanding of the state's curriculum. The results help determine a school's Annual Yearly Progress. Schools with poor scores are placed on varying levels of probation. Dougherty County School Board Member David Maschke and Carol Tharin say test results are an important tool to measure teacher and student progress.

"It's vital that both be measured because, if a student sis not performing I think it is at least some reflection on the ability of the teacher, so I think that it's two separate issue that need to be looked at," said School Board member Carol Tharin.

Board member Dr. Anita Williams Brown, a former educator, disagrees to judging teachers based on the tests. Both Tharin and Maschke feel the system could do more with results.

"I don't think we're doing enough, we've had poor results for several years and that should tell us that there's a problem somewhere, maybe in multiple places," said Tharin.

We found in third grade reading from 2007 to 2011 there was no improvement, 18 percent didn't meet standards. In fourth grade from 2007 to 2011, reading scores continuously fell. Parents worry scores will continue to fall if the investigation isn't concluded soon.

"Given the investigation and they're trying to pick up on learning new things in school, kids have a hard time adjusting," said parent Betty Gilbert.

They don't want to see teachers disrupted while class is in session.

Investigators expect to question about 350 teachers and principals when they arrive August 8th to complete the Dougherty Schools investigation.

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