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Judge to sentence former educators for role in nation's largest cheating scandal

A judge was scheduled Monday morning to sentence 10 of the 11 defendants convicted this month of racketeering for their roles in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams.

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A judge was set to hand down sentences Monday for most of the former Atlanta educators who were convicted in a widespread conspiracy to cheat on state tests.

Fulton County Judge Jerry Baxter was scheduled Monday morning to sentence 10 of the 11 defendants convicted this month of racketeering for their roles in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams.

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The sentencing hearing was to begin at 10 a.m. in Atlanta.

The racketeering charges carry up to 20 years in prison, though it's possible they could get far less severe sentences.

One defendant, who was pregnant when she was convicted, will be sentenced later. One of the 12 defendants was acquitted of all charges.

The case is one of the nation's largest cheating scandals of its kind.

The former educators were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in Atlanta Public Schools. In all, 35 educators were indicted in 2013 on charges including racketeering, making false statements and theft. Many pleaded guilty and some testified at the trial.

A state investigation found that as far back as 2005, educators fed answers to students or erased and changed answers on tests after they were turned in. Evidence of cheating was found in 44 schools with nearly 180 educators involved, and teachers who tried to report it were threatened with retaliation.

Former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall was among those charged but never went to trial, saying she was too sick. She died a month ago of breast cancer.

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Hall insisted she was innocent. But educators said she was among higher-ups pressuring them to inflate test scores to show gains in achievement and meet federal benchmarks that would mean extra funding.