Davis outlines steps to prevent future cheating

4:34 PM, Jul 7, 2011   |    comments
Atlanta School Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.
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ATLANTA -- At a special meeting to address CRCT cheating at Atlanta Public Schools, the APS board nailed down several measures to make sure something like this never happens again.

On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal's office released a 400-plus-page report citing widespread cheating on the state's standardized tests within the APS system.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: APS CRCT Cheating Investigation

"It's been a long two days since receiving the report," APS Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis said at the board meeting Thursday. It's been just one week since he took over the helm from now-retired Dr. Beverly Hall.

RELATED: How much did Dr. Hall know about cheating? 

At the session, Davis outlined the school system's next steps. On Thursday, the APS board extended the interim superintendent's contract with the school system through June 30, 2012, giving him a full year to accomplish his goals.

First, Davis said, he wants to change "the culture of the organization."

He wants all school system employees to be surveyed about what state investigators called the "culture of fear" within the system. Davis emphasized that it would be an anonymous "blind" survey. He said he also wants to revamp the Office of Internal Resolution, which handles complaints from faculty, to make sure whistleblowers are heard.

"We need to demand that we listen more to our teachers," he said. 

Davis recommended a mandatory yearly ethics training session for every school system employee.

He also addressed performance standards, saying, "Consequences for operating outside our standards will be far more harsh than any performance goals."

He recommended that all test coordinators be trained by an outside authority. He said he wants CRCT scores to be rechecked and recertified if they seem unusually high, saying, "Performance targets will be realistic."

Most importantly, he said students who have been harmed should get remedial training, if needed. Davis called the current 12-week remedial program woefully inadequate and said it needs to be made permanent.

The school board unanimously approved Davis' recommendations.

Atlanta Public Schools begin classes in just over a month, which puts pressure on the school system to find replacements for any educators who could be dismissed.

"Those who have cheated will have forfeited their right to remain in our system," Davis said.

He said no action would be taken Thursday against the nearly 180 teachers and principals implicated in the scandal, but he hopes to have recommendations on their futures at the next school board meeting, which is set for July 11.

Each of the 178 cases will have to be handled individually over the next few days. Educators will be brought in one by one, and each will have a right to appeal.

Following Thursday's school board meeting, board members emerged from an executive session to announce the extension of Davis' contract. When asked about the two job candidates the school board had been considering for the permanent superintendent position, the response was, "We haven't told them yet."

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