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Humanizing the Education Machine by Brian Cahill, Bill Latham, Rex Miller

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Chapter 16Leading Change at Your School

Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

—Don Berwick, past president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

The front page of the December 14, 2008, Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ripped the lid off the story about Atlanta Public School (APS) teachers changing test scores. That story became the pulled thread that unraveled the culture of cheating in the APS.

The final report, hand delivered to the governor in June 2011, summarized the scandal: “. . . institutionalized corruption of standardized tests, directed from the central office, for a decade. Teachers and administrators gave children answers, erased incorrect answers, hid and altered documents, offered monetary incentives to encourage cheating, and punished employees who refused to cheat.1

Beverly Hall, the superintendent at the time, had become a nationally known champion reformer. In her more than 10 years of APS leadership, test scores improved—dramatically. The district had become a national model and Hall was named National Superintendent of the Year.

In March 2012, Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School, was the first to fall in the scandal. He was a good teacher, but the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation set new rules for test scores in 2002, and imposed new consequences for failing to achieve those results. The APS layered it's own local and tougher expectations on top of that, making the mission ...

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