The Effect of the Media – School Testing

Atlanta Testing Scandal Uncovered

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Journalism isn’t often associated with the most radical or fascinating of careers; instead the profession conjures opposite images of men bent over laptops behind media windows, waving frantically to be noticed by their audiences. Despite its stigma however, news writing is most crucial of all societal elements. What is read in a newspaper is not just words on paper but a truth meant to be considered by the audience, a truth that will affect on a personal, national, or global scale. The skills required of our reporters in identifying the relevancy of a story are remarkable and their sacrifices in the name of truth honorable. Though these qualities are emphasized on a daily basis by participants in the news industry, one can fully appreciate the artistry of the trade in analyzing the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s report of irregularities in standardized testing.

The story began in 1999 with public school reformer Beverly Hall preached a “no excuse for failure” policy in her appointment as superintendent. Nine years pass before the Journal ran a few tentative articles questioning the probability of student test scores, which were astronomically high. In response to this series, the Board of Education ordered investigations into cheating statewide in fifty-eight Atlanta schools two years later, but oddly didn’t delve too deeply into the matter. Still the articles ran and Governor Sonny Perdue began to heed the nagging voice in his head; he soon got involved to ensure that thirty-five educators, including Hall, were arrested on grounds of intimidation, hindering the investigation, and document destruction (in accordance with “A Timeline of How the Atlanta School Cheating Scandal Unfolded.” All were indicted. Twenty-one administrators plead guilty and thirteen went to trial, accepting responsibility for the manipulated education of Atlanta students. The story spread out of the Constitution’s hands and into politicians’; soon a federal rewrite of a national law that enabled high stakes testing was completed, all of which was inspired by a local paper’s courage to identify a source of misconduct.

Though perhaps not the most exciting of academic scandals, what is truly intriguing is the impact on current society; we see a problem isolated, responses put into play, political action and resulting public awareness, the root of which originated in a small, Southern paper. Journalism is essential to the validity of the common perspective, and its impacts continue to directly affect the public today.

 

Sources:

Staff Report. “A Timeline of How the Atlanta School Cheating Scandal Unfolded.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 2 Apr. 2015, www.ajc.com/news/timeline-how-the-atlanta-school-cheating-scandal-unfolded/jn4vTk7GZUQoQRJTVR7UHK/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

 

Staff Report. “AJC Investigation: Cheating on Student Achievement Tests.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 3 Mar. 2015, www.ajc.com/news/school-test-scores/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

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