published Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Cheating scandal costs some Georgia schools federal dollars

One of the many facets of federal involvement in education is a program under the U.S. Department of Education that sends money for teacher bonuses, classroom supplies and so forth to schools that have large percentages of low-income students and that get good scores on standardized tests.

A number of public schools in Atlanta received those bonus funds from Washington because of their students' seemingly good performance on the tests.

But to the horror of many people in Georgia, a lot of those good results turned out to be counterfeit.

Many of Atlanta's public schools were caught up in a decade-long cheating scandal that came to light in 2011. Nearly 200 principals and teachers across almost half of the city's schools were found to have provided students answers on tests, to have altered students' answers after the tests had been completed, or at least to have failed to prevent cheating by students.

Now, rather than rejoice at getting extra federal money for their supposedly "good" test results, the cheating schools have less than 90 days to repay the bonus money -- more than $360,000! -- to the federal government.

Sadly, that does not begin to calculate the damage done to students who saw some of their own teachers set a horrible example by helping them cheat on standardized tests. They will pay a much higher price for a long time.

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Please write George W. Bush and tell him his idea was dumb.

Your problem isn't a federal one though, it's with the idea of such rewards, it's been a problem with state education systems that try to implement incentives like that too.

February 5, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.
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