Dr. James L. Berry, who was the school’s principal for four years, quit last week after admitting that he tampered with the June 2008 CRCT mathematics retest at the school.
Robert Moseley, the school system’s deputy chief superintendent, said Thursday that news of the cheating was devastating.
“We were not surprised,” he said. “We were shocked and extremely disappointed. It is a very, very serious incident but it was isolated and we dealt with it swiftly and decidedly.”
Atherton is one of four elementary schools being investigated by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement over changed answers on the Criterion Reference Competency Test. The other schools are in Fulton County, Atlanta City Schools and Glynn County. The state is recommending that the results of more than 100 students from the four schools be thrown out.
Preliminary audit results reveal that someone at the schools deliberately changed the answers on the fifth-graders’ tests by erasing wrong answers and replacing them with right ones.
Moseley said that 32 students took the retest at Atherton. The average point gain was 72. The other schools had gains of 16 to 57 points.
Mosely said the students were cheated by the administrators.
“No teacher or students were involved in the testing violations,” he said, adding that a number of parents had called the school.
“We are going to try to restore the confidence of the parents,” he said.
On Wednesday, District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming said her office would investigate the incident. Moseley said that announcement changed everything.
“Before the DA’s announcement we had a little more leeway, but in the light of the investigation, we can’t say much more about it,” he said.
Moseley said that they are interviewing candidates and hope to have Berry’s replacement on board by July 1.
He said assistant principal Doretha Alexander has also been reassigned while they investigate whether she was involved.