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Ex-Atlanta schools chief, 34 others indicted in cheating scandal

March 30, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Former Atlanta schools Supt. Beverly Hall, center, was indicted along with 34 fellow educators.
Former Atlanta schools Supt. Beverly Hall, center, was indicted along… (Curtis Compton / Associated…)

A former Atlanta schools superintendent helped fuel widespread cheating on standardized tests with bonuses for increased scores and a practice of punishing whistleblowers and praising cheaters, prosecutors said.

Beverly Hall, who resigned from Atlanta Public Schools in 2011, was indicted along with 34 fellow educators  Friday. They are accused of participating in a widespread conspiracy to cheat on standardized tests. Hall and others benefited from the cheating by taking bonuses for increased test scores, according to the 65-count indictment which was posted online by the New York Times. Among other charges faced by the defendants are making false statements, theft and influencing witnesses.

“The refusal of Beverly Hall and her top administrators to accept anything other than satisfying targets created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education,” the indictment says.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution began reporting on possible cheating in 2008 when it published an analysis that showed statistically improbable increases on test scores.

In 2011, an investigation for the governor found cheating in one year at nearly 80% of schools examined and identified 178 educators involved, including 82 who confessed. The report said misconduct occurred as far back as 2001. It concluded that Hall knew or should have known about the cheating.

In a news conference Friday, which was posted online by the Associated Press, Fulton County Dist. Atty.  Paul Howard said the educators named in the indictment and under Hall’s leadership had “a single-minded purpose and that purpose is to cheat, to manipulate grades…without her this conspiracy could not have taken place.”

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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