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APS superintendent talks cheating scandal, future plans
by Caroline Young
May 29, 2013 12:40 PM | 2798 views | 1 1 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
File / Nathan Self <br>
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis talks about the strides he has made during his tenure leading the district.
File / Nathan Self
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis talks about the strides he has made during his tenure leading the district.
Ever since the 2009 CRCT cheating scandal, Atlanta Public Schools has been in a slow healing process.

Superintendent Erroll Davis, who just completed another school year last week, said it is going to take years to fully recover.

“But we’ve also made great strides,” the Buckhead resident said. “The lack of procedure and safeguards which, in many ways, contributed to the maintenance of cheating over the years have been completely turned around and now lauded by the [Georgia Department of Education] as being really state of the art.”

New standardized testing score safeguards include automatic triggers when scores move more than a certain percentage in either direction, Davis said. Plus, the system enhanced protocols for security of testing materials before and after tests, including video observation and time restraints.

“We’ve made responsibility and accountability a lot clearer to principals as well,” he said.

Forty principals in the system, which is nearly 40 percent, were let go since the scandal, Davis said, and over the past two years, 70 percent of principals in the system are new.

He said the system reassigned about a dozen faculty members, accused of cheating scandal involvement, after reviewing their cases.

“There’s almost a couple of hundred people involved,” Davis said. “The vast majorities were sustained in administrative hearings or people resigned.”

While he was distracted by CRCT hearings in the 2012-13 school year, he said there has been a lot of planning for the future.

“It was a year of redirection and rebuilding. We hired tons of teachers,” he said. “We spent a year developing a five-year strategic plan and we need to work on a buy-in for that plan, particularly at the board [of education] level.”

Although the board already passed the plan, he said the budget has to become “strategy-implementing documents” instead of aggregations of spending by a certain area.

As far as the new common core curriculum goes, Davis said he believes it was a success.

“We got a lot of training done and will continue to focus on training,” he said.

Davis also said he believes the district did a decent job of retaining top talent, despite salary freezes.

Davis said the board is in the early stages of a new superintendent search at the moment but is unsure of timing.

His contract expires in December 2014.

“I have made it clear it is not my desire to continue for any extended period of time in this job,” he said. “I accepted the job under the assumption it was a 90-day assignment. You can get caught up in work.”

He said he believes his job is for a younger person.

“I will be 69 in a month or so,” he said. “I have other things I need to get done in my life as well.”

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