ALBANY — Investigators probing suspected CRCT cheating in the Dougherty County School System said Wednesday that Phase I of the investigation is drawing to a close with Phase II focusing on 11 flagged elementary schools.
Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers said investigators, using the same criteria employed in the Atlanta investigation, will delve more deeply into the 11 DCSS schools that had greater than 20 percent of their 2009 test scores flagged. Originally, 14 Dougherty County schools were under suspicion.
The flagged schools are Radium Springs, Sylvester Road, Lamar Reese, Sherwood, Morningside, Alice Coachman, Turner, Martin Luther King, Northside, Jackson Heights and West Town. DCSS has five other elementary schools.
Last month, investigators seized computers from Jackson Heights, but did not remove computers from any other schools.
“The first phase of the investigation has gone very well,” Bowers said. “We’ve conducted around 450 interviews and we will wrap up Phase I this week. The next phase we will analyze the interviews and data we’ve accumulated.
“Overall, the investigation has gone very smoothly.”
Investigator Richard Hyde said the 14 Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents who have been involved since the probe began in earnest on Aug. 8 will return to their regular assignments today after giving a briefing to GBI Director Vernon Keenan.
“These are the best group of agents I have ever worked with,” Hyde said. “They are highly motivated and very efficient. We’ll begin the second phase of the investigation Monday with just the people from the governor’s investigative team. We hope this phase is over by the end of October and our goal is to be completely finished by Thanksgiving.”
“Right now, we are looking at just 11 schools,” Bowers said. “Now that might change later, but we are seeing the same percentages here as we did in Atlanta.”
No DCSS middle schools were flagged.
“We are going to begin intensive interviews of principals and administrators,” Bowers said. “There will be lots of additional analysis of GBI data then we begin drafting reports on the individual schools.
The investigation into the exams administered to first- through eighth-graders in Atlanta and Dougherty County began in August 2010 at the direction of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. At issue is the number of erasures on the 2009 CRCTs in which wrong answers were corrected.
State officials were concerned that at some of the schools there were too many of those corrections, and eventually focused on Atlanta and Dougherty County.
The findings of state investigations into Atlanta’s school districts were announced July 5. Among other things, the governor’s report found cheating in 44 of the 56 Atlanta schools examined and said that 178 teachers and principals in the schools had been involved in the cheating or should have known it was going on.
A preliminary probe in February of last year flagged the 56 Atlanta schools. Dougherty County had the state’s second-highest number flagged at 14.