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Amid New Reports of Atlanta Schools Cheating, Superintendent Calls for Change

Amid recent reports of grade-changing at some Atlanta high schools, Atlanta schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the district may be dealing with a deep-rooted problem.

When a jury convicted 11 former Atlanta educators in a test-cheating conspiracy in the spring, some education experts thought it may signal the end of high-profile academic misconduct cases for the 49,000-student school system. 

But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported on multiple cases of possible improper grading practices in recent months, "including cases of principals pressured to alter grades; retaliation against those who balked; and supervisors allegedly ignoring or implicitly approving the signs of cheating," the Associated Press writes.

The reports have emerged since the end of a months-long trial where eight educators were sentenced to prison for their roles in cheating on state tests, a scandal the Journal-Constitution also uncovered.

Vowing to stamp out cheating in the district, Carstarphen said that attitudes must shift.

That will only come about if district employees are able to report possible wrongdoing without risking retaliation, Carstarphen said during a July 7 press conference.

That's a critical step, Steve Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, told the Associated Press.

"You have to have that culture built that it's just an expectation that 'We do not do that; we don't behave that way here,' and then when someone does, people call them on it," Dolinger said.

The district is in the midst of a grade-changing investigation that should wrap up this month, Carstarphen said.

In the test-cheating case, jurors in Fulton County, Ga., had to decide if the educators were conspirators in a widespread cheating scandal. Following six months of testimony, the jury found that the former teachers and administrators plotted to artificially inflate test scores by changing answers or guiding students to fill in the correct responses on the 2009 Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, the state's annual assessment.

The latest cases unearthed by the Journal-Constitution aren't as far-reaching, but still pose problems for a district looking to rebound from a fiasco that drew national headlines.

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