Atlanta Public Schools Accused of Cheating on Tests Despite “Freakonomics” Warning

As a parent and lawyer with a child in the Atlanta City Public Schools, I am disgusted by the corrupt culture of shortcuts that keeps rearing its head in our city. After reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner a few years back, I remember thinking to myself that the cat is out of the bag and teachers would know that widespread cheating on competency tests leaves a statistical “fingerprint” that is easy to see.


I should have counted on the fools that run the Atlanta City Public Schools to either 1) ignore its warnings or 2)neglect to read the book altogether. Either way, the school district is now going to pay the price for taking shortcuts.

Now the Federal Government is probing the Atlanta City Public Schools to determine whether the school system committed criminal fraud. The Atlanta Journal Constitution did learn from Freakonomics and studied the CRCT gains being posted by the Atlanta schools. They found statistically unlikely gains and changed answers in the test results of 2/3 of the elementary and middle schools.(“Feds Probe Atlanta schools” AJC Sept. 26, 2010 A23)

The School District has now hired the former Dekalb County District Attorney as their lawyer to defend them in the fraud investigation.

No City is free from corruption, but my adopted City is knee deep in it from Mayor Campbell’s old criminal charges to Hartsfield Airport’s favoritism in awarding contracts. “An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation in 2002 found that the majority of airport contracts were awarded to campaign contributors and close friends of former mayors Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell.” Jury finds for Corey Airport Services in lawsuit against Harstfield-Jackson; city AJC July 10, 2010.

As my youngest approaches kindergarten, I can only hope that the current Mayor Kasim Reed bucks the trend and shines a light into the shady dealings that have rotted this city’s infrastructure to the point of failure.

There is no shortcut to success.

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One response to “Atlanta Public Schools Accused of Cheating on Tests Despite “Freakonomics” Warning”

  1. Shelly Powell says:

    The DA of Fulton County held a news conference where he displayed an answer sheet that showed the errased answer and the new answer. The computer scoring the tests would not count the answer at all. If you can see the changed answer, it dosen’t count, the student or anybody else has not done anything to improve the score.
    I would go back to those who are making the claim of cheating and have them prove that the answers were counted. If they were not counted a class action suit should be filed, nameing the following: Atlanta Journal Constitution (Cynthia Tucker and others) the Fulton county DA, The State of GA, The maker of the tests and the scorer of the test. All staff and teachers should be made whole.