“Standardized testing should play a role, but it has now become the predominant, and some would say the only, factor in assessing whether schools are successful, whether teachers are successful, and whether students are successful,” she says.
“Hopefully, this is now pulling the curtain away from what teachers and parents have been saying for two or three years now, which is that we are fixating on testing, as opposed to being fixated on teaching and learning.”
The scandal in Atlanta has gained particular attention since it seems to have been so widespread, and to have emanated from the very top, where Dr. Hall, the former superintendent, allegedly governed by fear and pushed principals to deliver results by any means necessary. During the decade she led the district, she replaced 90 percent of the principals, and focused unrelentingly on test scores.
The seeming turnaround that those scores saw brought her significant accolades and financial rewards. In 2009 she was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators, whose director said that Hall had “turned Atlanta into a model of urban school reform.” Atlanta was often cited as a success story by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.