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Atlanta Cheating Trial: Former Governor Says Test Fraud Had to Be 'Conspiratorial'

By guest blogger Madeline Will

The test-cheating that occurred in the Atlanta school district had to have been systemic and conspiratorial, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue testified on Monday.

Perdue's testimony, part of the ongoing trial of 12 former Atlanta educators accused of cheating, painted a damning picture of former superintendent Beverly Hall, a one-time national superintendent of the year who is accused of conspiring to inflate students' test scores on state standardized tests. Hall has denied all the charges, but is not currently standing trial because she is fighting Stage IV breast cancer. Her trial has been postponed indefinitely.

Perdue testified that when a statewide analysis of the 2009 state tests uncovered suspicious wrong-to-right erasure rates at 58 Atlanta schools, he had personally called Hall to let her know and tell her that the district needed to conduct an investigation, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Hall was defensive and Perdue "got the feeling that she just wanted this to go away," he said.

Perdue, alarmed by the results of the erasure analysis, testified that he felt that educators were collaborating to change the test scores and that it was "conspiratorial" and "systemic," according to the AJC.

Though Atlanta civic leaders urged him to drop the issue, Perdue ordered a blue ribbon commission to investigate, and then appointed special investigators—with help from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation—to get to the bottom of the scandal.

Their report implicated nearly 200 Atlanta district employees and eventually led to the indictment of 35 former teachers and administrators.

The trial is wrapping up its seventh week, and continues today. The AJC has regular updates, and we will be posting a roundup of the rest of this week's testimony on Friday right here. If you're just tuning in, catch up with last week's roundup.

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