Everyone loses when schools cheat, but especially students
The Education Trust knows that when poor children and children of color are given the right instruction and support, they can achieve at high levels. Our organization spends considerable resources to identify schools that are demonstrating this fact by helping their students to succeed. Some we honor with our Dispelling the Myth award because we believe these educators provide vital inspiration and information about the powerful role schools can play in improving the lives of their students.
That is why we are so troubled and saddened to learn that two of our past Dispelling the Myth campuses - Parks Middle School and Capitol View Elementary School - are identified among schools in Atlanta that investigators suspect of cheating on state assessments.
When teachers and administrators cheat, they damage the trust we have in our schools and the teaching profession. But, more importantly, they rob students of the opportunity for a good education.
Where there is evidence of tampering with test papers, criminal charges absolutely should follow. We should be careful to follow the evidence, though. In the case of the Atlanta schools, investigators allege that only a small proportion of districts educators cheated. In the case of Parks Middle School, the evidence appears convincing; for Capitol View, it remains inconclusive.
Our nation does not believe in collective punishment. We believe in following the evidence to affix individual responsibility. That is what should happen in Georgia, so that Atlanta educators who did not cheat are not tainted by the actions of those who did.
The Education Trust will no longer feature the work of Parks Middle School on our web-site or at our conferences; the same goes for Capitol View Elementary School, unless and until the courts exonerate the educators there.