May 6th, 2013
05:31 PM ET

Atlanta teacher accused of cheating: 'I'm completely innocent'

(CNN) - Thirty-five educators were indicted this year in a cheating scandal that rocked the Atlanta Public Schools and drew national attention. A judge recently lifted a gag order in the case, and two Atlanta teachers accused of cheating on standardized tests shared their perspectives on the charges.

"I'm struggling. I'm still struggling," elementary school teacher Angela Williamson told CNN. "To have to continue to fight to defend my name, my character, my good teaching reputation that I once had, it seems like all that has been stolen from me."

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Filed under: Cheating • Teachers • Testing
Atlanta schools chief looks beyond cheating scandal
Atlanta's public schools are recovering from one of the largest school cheating scandals in U.S. history.
April 4th, 2013
02:57 PM ET

Atlanta schools chief looks beyond cheating scandal

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - This week, 35 former Atlanta Public Schools teachers and administrators, including the former superintendent, Beverly Hall, turned themselves into police. They were indicted on charges ranging from racketeering to theft, all tied to a district-wide cheating scandal that was discovered in recent years. It's been described as the largest school cheating scheme in the history of the United States.

The teachers are accused of erasing and changing standardized test answers to improve scores. Those scores are tied closely to state and federal funding as well as teacher bonuses.

The arrests were another step towards closure of a three year saga that's left an indelible mark on Atlanta.

Errol Davis took over as superintendent when Hall resigned in 2011.

CNN Radio interviewed Davis about his journey through the scandal and about changes he's made on testing security at Atlanta's public schools.

Read the full story on CNN's Soundwaves blog

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Filed under: Cheating • CNN Radio • Podcast • School administration • Testing
March 29th, 2013
09:46 PM ET

Grand jury indicts 35 in Georgia school cheating scandal

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - In what has been described as one of the largest cheating scandals to hit the nation's public education system, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators and administrators were indicted Friday on charges of racketeering and corruption.

The indictment is the bookend to a story that was once touted as a model for the nation's school districts after the district's test scores dramatically improved in some of its toughest urban schools.

Among those indicted by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury was Beverly Hall, the former schools superintendent who gained national recognition in 2009 for turning around Atlanta's school system.

"She was a full participant in that conspiracy," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told reporters during a news conference announcing the charges.

"Without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree in which it took place."

The indictment follows a state investigation that was launched after a series of reports by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper found large, unexplained gains in test scores in some Atlanta schools.

A state review determined that some cheating had occurred in more than half of the district's elementary and middle schools. About 180 teachers were initially implicated in the scandal.

Read the full story

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My View: Cheat or be cheated?
October 25th, 2012
04:15 AM ET

My View: Cheat or be cheated?

Courtesy Denise PopeBy Denise Pope, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Denise Pope, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education. She is co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and intervention project that provides schools and families the tools they need to raise healthy, motivated students. Her book, "Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students” (Yale University Press, 2001) was awarded Notable Book in Education by the American School Board Journal, 2001.

Students and faculty at Harvard note that the campus is “in shock” over the recent accusation that 125 students cheated on a final exam last spring. Parents at Stuyvesant High School are stunned to learn that 66 students were accused of using cell phones to cheat during an exam. But those of us who research student behaviors aren’t surprised by the latest cheating scandals.  We hear stories like these all the time.

In fact, 97% of the high school students in our Challenge Success survey admitted to cheating at least once during the past year, and 75% admitted to cheating four or more times.

Many students point to examples of cheaters on Wall Street, in government, sports and show business, and tell us that the standards for honesty are different these days:  “Everybody cheats.”

The problem is so prevalent and widespread that many parents and educators tend to throw up their hands in defeat.  But we know something can be done about the rampant cheating in schools. We reviewed the research on cheating from the past 15 years and summarize our findings here to show you what really goes on inside the classroom and to help you find ways to increase honesty and integrity in your homes and schools:
FULL POST

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My View: An easy out for athletes in Harvard scandal?
A referee waits during a game between Harvard and Vanderbilt during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
September 25th, 2012
06:00 PM ET

My View: An easy out for athletes in Harvard scandal?

Nicolaus MillsBy Nicolaus Mills, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Nicolaus Mills is professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence College and is working on a book about the West Point football team of 1964 and its service in Vietnam.

(CNN) - Harvard is caught up in a student cheating scandal that its dean of undergraduate education calls "unprecedented in its scope and magnitude." As a Harvard grad, I am embarrassed, but what has me really worried is that Harvard, despite officials acknowledging the seriousness of what has happened, gives signs of trying to finesse the consequences of the scandal where key athletes are concerned.

The scandal centers on 125 students, as many as half of them varsity athletes from the men's basketball, baseball and football teams, according to The Boston Globe. They stand accused of copying from one another or plagiarizing on a take-home exam in a spring 2012 government course, "Introduction to Congress," with an enrollment of 279.

At Harvard the standard penalty for cheating is that a student can be asked to withdraw from the university for a year. In the case of athletes, withdrawal means the loss of a year of athletic eligibility, according to the NCAA, if they are forced to leave after they have registered for classes.

Harvard is seeking to avoid that problem. The secretary of Harvard's Administrative Board, the body that rules on individual cheating cases, sent around an internal e-mail to resident deans saying that fall athletes might "consider taking [a leave of absence] before their first game."

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Allegations of widespread cheating in government class probed at Harvard
Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S., is investigating allegations of cheating on a take-home final exam in May.
August 30th, 2012
07:24 PM ET

Allegations of widespread cheating in government class probed at Harvard

By Julia Talanova and Jason Kessler, CNN

(CNN) - Harvard University is investigating allegations that almost half the students in an undergraduate class last spring may have plagiarized or "inappropriately collaborated" on their final exams, the school announced Thursday.

Following an initial investigation, Harvard's administrative board, which enforces academic regulations, undertook "a comprehensive review of the more than 250 take-home final exams" submitted at the end of a course, the school said in a statement.

The Harvard Crimson, the school's flagship student-run newspaper, identified the class in which the cheating allegedly occurred as Government 1310: Introduction to Congress.

A document on the website of Harvard's registrar's office says the class had 279 students.

"We take academic integrity very seriously because it goes to the heart of our educational mission," said Michael D. Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, in a written statement.

Last semester during grading, "the faculty member teaching the course questioned the similarities between a number of exams," according to the statement.

The board then reviewed the questionable exams and interviewed the students who submitted them, eventually launching a wider review along with the class's professor, the statement said.

That review is still underway.

A copy of the take-home exam found on Harvard's website shows that it laid out a series rules for students to follow.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Cheating • College • Policy • Practice
August 20th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Suspicious test results in Philadelphia public schools

(CNN) – In Philadelphia, a community news organization reports 53 schools were flagged for cheating across multiple grades. As in Atlanta, many of the cheaters aren't students; they're educators – teachers and principals. CNN contributor and educator Steve Perry tells Soledad O'Brien that he has a solution using technology that could limit this kind of cheating.

We want to hear your solutions – how can cheating by educators be stopped?

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Filed under: Cheating • NCLB • Perry's Principles • Policy • Practice • video
July 10th, 2012
11:01 PM ET

Tennessee teachers accused in test fraud

By Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) - A Memphis, Tennessee, man faces a 45-count indictment after prosecutors say he took money from teachers who paid to have other people take their certification exams.

Clarence Mumford, 58, allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars from the scheme, which operated between 1995-2010 and involved teachers and aspiring teachers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

"Mumford's conduct has done harm to the systems in which unqualified teachers have been able to teach, to the individual schools, to qualified individuals who could have obtained jobs filled by unqualified teachers, and, ultimately, to a generation of our schoolchildren," said Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

It was not immediately clear whether Mumford has retained representation.

According to the indictment, dated Monday, Mumford charged teachers between $1,500-$3,000 per exam. As part of the scheme, he allegedly collected teachers' IDs and made fake driver's licenses.

The purported scam involved approximately 70 teachers, according to Kristin Helm, spokeswoman at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations.

Read the full story

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April 24th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

U.S. News: Report: Community College Attendance Up, But Graduation Rates Remain Low
According to the article, community colleges are supposed to be a stepping stone to either four-year schools or high-tech careers. A new report shows that while enrollment at community colleges is up, less than half of their students graduate or transfer to a four-year college within six years.

WTHR.com: Students pay price for underage drinking
This past weekend was the biggest annual party weekend of the year at Indiana University. More students than ever were issued citations related to underage drinking, but will it change student attitudes towards alcohol?

ABC13: Boy, 16, takes special needs friend to prom
Amber House's parents know she is a social butterfly, but they thought House wouldn't get a date for the prom because she has Down syndrome. It turns out Matt Gill already asked her, and Gill says House always was his first choice for the big day.

Time.com: Berkeley High School Students Pull Off Ferris Bueller-esque Attendance Hack
Some Berkeley High School students hacked into the school's attendance system. Dozens of students who allegedly bought or sold login information or changed school records have been suspended and the school may expel the ringleaders.

Mail Online: When playtime wasn't ruled by 'elf and safety: Photographs show how children had fun before the inspectors took over
Most of the images in this photo essay were taken on British playgrounds in the pre-World War II era. The clothes, the asphalt surfaces, and the equipment have changed, but recess was then, as now, a time for fun outside.

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Filed under: Cheating • College • Issues • Policy • Practice • Today's Reading List
April 17th, 2012
01:45 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Al.com: Atlanta newspaper's report on school cheating left out key details, USA professor says
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted a nationwide study on cheating on America's high-stakes tests. Mobile, Alabama's school district, which was mentioned in the report for statistically improbable test scores, says the AJC's data doesn't tell the whole story.

Wired: Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video
In a flipped classroom, students watch online video lectures at home, then work on "homework" in class. The article points out that the content still needs to be relevant to a student in order to facilitate learning.

Larry Cuban: Connecting School Reform to Online Instruction in K-12 Classrooms: The Next New Thing
Studies show that achievement through online learning isn't where it needs to be. Larry Cuban says, "If you want to understand what happens to technological innovations when they are adopted and end up in classrooms, know what occurred to major school reforms that succeeded and failed."

SunSentinel: Students asked to sign honesty pledge before FCAT
Last year, Florida school officials invalidated thousands of students' scores on the state's standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The students' answer sheets were flagged when they were too similar to other students' answers. Students are being asked to take an honesty pledge before taking this year's FCATs.

KansasCity.com: Schools take on hunger, even after school
About 10% of Kansas City, Missouri's elementary students are receiving a third daily meal in their after school programs. School officials fear that the district's cafeterias are providing the only source of nutrients for some lower-income students.

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