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Ex-Atlanta principal testifies about demotion offer because of incremental test score gains

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ATLANTA — A former Atlanta high school principal testified Wednesday that he was offered a demotion because double-digit gains that students made on a state standardized test weren't considered significant enough.

The second day of testimony in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial featured the former principal, a former teacher and an expert on standardized tests who explained how modern technology is used to pinpoint potential irregularities on students' answer sheets.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://on-ajc.com/YOSFqx ) that former Carver High School principal Tony Overstreet was hired in 2003 and was fired two years later — despite students making a 12 percent improvement in test scores.

Overstreet said ex-Superintendent Beverly Hall told him he'd done nothing wrong and did everything she asked him to, but she didn't have time for incremental gains.

The newspaper reports that Carver was the state's lowest performing school before Overstreet was hired as principal. Overstreet said he declined Hall's offer to leave his position and begin working as an assistant principal.

Former Atlanta Public Schools teacher Leah Cauley testified that she was fired from her job at C.W. Hill Elementary School after she reported that she saw a teacher coaching students during state exams. Cauley taught at the school during the 2004-05 year.

PHOTO: Dr. Gregory Cizek, University of North Carolina professor and testing expert, testifies in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, in Arlanta, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Justina Collins, the mother of a former Atlanta elementary school student testified Tuesday that she was surprised and concerned when her daughter excelled on a standardized test after struggling through the academic year.  (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
Dr. Gregory Cizek, University of North Carolina professor and testing expert, testifies in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial before Judge Jerry Baxter in Fulton County Superior Court, in Arlanta, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Justina Collins, the mother of a former Atlanta elementary school student testified Tuesday that she was surprised and concerned when her daughter excelled on a standardized test after struggling through the academic year. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

Cauley said after she reported what she saw, hate mail began showing up in her school mail box and district investigators wrote a letter accusing her of filing a false report.

"I had a really hard time reading it beginning to end because I was so shocked by the findings," Cauley said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Hall created an environment that put intense pressure on teachers to achieve substantial test score improvements.

Hall has denied wrongdoing and isn't on trial with 12 other defendants while she battles breast cancer.

An initial indictment implicated 35 district staffers in the cheating conspiracy and prosecutors have already agreed to plea deals with 21 other defendants.


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Judge Jerry Baxter listens as Fulton County Chief Senior Assistent DA Fani Willis questions witness Leah Cauley, former Atlanta Public Schools teacher, during testimony in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial  in Fulton County Superior Court, in Atlanta, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Prosecutors say 12 former Atlanta Public Schools educators and administrators cheated, lied and stole as part of a widespread but cleverly disguised conspiracy to inflate state test scores that affected thousands of students. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
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