Atlanta School Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall
The following statement was posted to the Facebook page of the Atlanta Education Fund.
A MESSAGE FROM Dr. BEVERLY HALL
July 8, 2011
I am shocked and saddened by the facts uncovered by the Investigators. The instances of cheating they have documented are serious and cannot be ignored. I am particularly concerned for those students who have been affected by misconduct and whose education has fallen short as a result.
I am also disturbed by the repeated references to statements by teachers and other professionals declaring that they cheated or chose not to reveal cheating because of a perceived atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation. A number of years ago, we installed a hotline by which persons with knowledge of misconduct could report it and could do so anonymously if they wished. Anonymous emails and letters provided a further channel of communication. Even so, it now appears that our efforts and procedures were not enough.
To the extent that I failed to take measures that would have prevented what the Investigators have disclosed, I am accountable, as head of the school system, for failing to act accordingly. I sincerely apologize to the people of Atlanta and their children for any shortcomings. If I did anything that gave teachers the impression that I was unapproachable and unresponsive to their concerns, I also apologize for that. Where people consciously chose to cheat, however, the moral responsibility must lie with them.
I do not apologize for the reforms my staff and I implemented during my tenure as superintendent. The public has a right to hold educators - and administrators - accountable if they fail to teach children what they need to learn. We set goals for our schools because our students deserve no less. But, most importantly, we accompanied our targets and the targets mandated by No Child Left Behind with programs and facility improvements designed to give principals and teachers the means to achieve them.
It is my hope that APS parents and supporters will not read the report as a sweeping indictment of the Atlanta Public Schools and the accomplishments of the past decade. The vast majority of our educational professionals are dedicated, hardworking and innocent of wrongdoing. They fully deserve our respect and our gratitude.
Progress has been made, and continues to be made, in Atlanta's schools. Cheating on the CRCT in 2009 or earlier by no means undermines the clear indication of improvement shown by the annual testing of all segments of our student population as part of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) performed and monitored independently by agents of the federal government's National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Only 35% of APS fourth- graders taking the TUDA reading assessment in 2003 scored at or above NAEP's level of proficiency. By 2009, that number had risen to 50%. In math, proficiency improved from 50% to 63%. Of the eighth-graders who were tested as part of the TUDA, 60% met or exceeded NAEP's reading proficiency standard in 2009, compared to only 42% in 2003, and they showed an 11% improvement in math proficiency over the same period.
The sad events of 2009 are shameful, but those events are in the past. Much has been accomplished, but much remains to be done. I have every confidence that, under Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis and under my ultimate successor when chosen, the Atlanta Public Schools will to move forward, not back. I will cheer for them the loudest as they continue their "Race to the Top."