In the Media

Cizek shows NBC news magazine 'Rock Center' how Atlanta cheating scandal was uncovered

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Greg Cizek

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Gregory Cizek, professor of educational measurement and evaluation, was interviewed by longtime television news anchorman and reporter Harry Smith for a story on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” in which Cizek described how cheating on school tests in Atlanta Public Schools was uncovered.

“Rock Center” aired a story about the Atlanta cheating scandal on Monday night. Cizek’s interview, including video, is available online here.

Cizek, author of “Cheating on Tests: How to Do It, Detect and Prevent It,” demonstrated for Smith how erasures on test answer sheets can be detected on scanning equipment. He also described that the number of wrong answers erased and corrected to right answers on the Atlanta tests far exceeded what was statistically likely to have been done by the students themselves.

In July, investigators issued the results of a 10-month probe into alleged test tampering in the school system. They concluded that 178 teachers and principals had cheated in 44 schools on the spring 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test taken by 1st through 8th graders by erasing wrong answers and marking correct ones. Investigators said that the cheating had gone on for years.

Cizek described how he was brought in to help evaluate the data describing the erasure patterns on the tests.

“It was just sickening,” Cizek said in the “Rock Center” interview.” It was really heartbreaking to see the scale. I saw answer sheets with 25 erasures — the student’s entire performance had been altered. Whole classrooms of kids were told: you’re performing well — when, in fact, it was an educator or some other adult doctoring their answer sheets. It was just awful.”