Much has been written about the Atlanta cheating scandal. The progress of Atlanta Public Schools was a beacon for many reformers of system success with real gains happening for a huge number of students. The cheating scandal rightfully raised questions on every claim of success and practically derailed all their efforts—the bad as well as the good. Of all that’s been written on the scandal, we recommend Aspen Institute’s Ross Wiener’s op-ed in the Washington Post and Former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall’s EdWeek Commentary. They shine clear light on the real lessons to be learned from Atlanta’s crisis. Hall warns, “As awful as this cheating scandal is, it would be even more awful if we learned the wrong lesson from it. The culprit is not standardized testing or teacher accountability. We need both.”
For us there are four crucial takeaways:
As Ross Wiener says, “Abandoning reliance on testing is neither feasible nor advisable. Important considerations of equity, quality and scale make it essential to use tests in strategic, consequential ways. But we need to be honest about unintended consequences and more attuned to the line between healthy and unhealthy pressure.”
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