Whistle-blowing Teachers Targeted in Atlanta Test Score Scandal

More information continues to surface in the ongoing investigation concerning teachers cheating to raise students test scores in the Atlanta School District. Teachers who report instances of cheating that they witness find that they become the target of investigations, are punished for making those claims and in some cases face being fired.
The school district is being investigated for widespread cheating on the 2009 CRCT test. Many teachers have come forward to report that other teachers were cheating by changing students’ answers after they had completed the test or giving students answers while they were completing the test. Teachers are under constant pressure for their students to pass the tests and many educators have been reporting on cheating for years. Unfortunately, those who do the cheating seem to be praised and those who speak out against it are the ones at risk. When a teacher reports that they have witnessed cheating, an investigation is usually launched against the reporting teacher. There is no confidentiality when a report is filed and word spreads quickly about who made the claim and all of the details involved.

The practice of cheating on these standardized tests seems to be something that is accepted and expected among the teachers so many instances go unreported. Although the Atlanta School District claims to have a strict policy prohibiting retaliation against whistle-blowers, there is no Georgia law that provides protection. Teachers that teach in most Georgia school districts have little job security and no collective bargaining rights. This leads to many teachers receiving threats from administrators and principals when test scores are low. Many times, if a school wants a teacher out that has made accusations, they can be placed on probation which can lead to firing or given unfair performance evaluations. Proving these things can be an expensive process for teachers and some find it easier to find new jobs than to stay and see the battle through.
As the investigation continues, more light is shed on the common practices when it comes to standardized tests. It’s very unfortunate that teachers who try to stop the wrong doing of cheating on tests have to worry about losing their jobs or being punished for doing what’s right.
Via The Atlanta Journal Constitution