In a major victory for prosecutors, a number of Atlanta educators were found guilty today (April 1, 2015) for their roles in public schools cheating scandal, bringing a close to a half-decade drama that tarnished a major school district's reputation and raised questions nationwide about the wisdom of pushing educators to improve students' standardized test scores, according to the NY Times website.
Eleven of the former educators were convicted of racketeering charges in a decision announced in a Georgia courtroom. Only one of the 12 educators on trial was acquitted of the racketeering charge; verdicts on the theft and false statements charges were mixed.
The dozen educators who stood trial -- including five teachers and a principal -- were indicted in March 2013 after years of questions about how Atlanta students had substantially improved their scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, a standardized examination given throughout Georgia. Some 180 employees -- including 38 principals -- were accused of wrongdoing. Most of them pleaded guilty in court plea-bargaining agreements.
The illegal cheating scheme -- which had been authorized by Atlanta's then-school superintendent -- involved educators secretly changing incorrect answers to correct answers on hundreds of students' standardized tests. This was done so the Atlanta school department would receive millions of dollars more in federal funds as a result of "student test improvements." The educators, in turn, received large bonuses for their illegal and unethical actions.