The recent 65-count cheating indictment against 35 Atlanta school officials, including the superintendent, has reignited an intense national debate on the use of standardized test scores as a key feature in teacher evaluations. “This says that something about our incentive system and our accountability system is way off,” Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Christian Science Monitor. The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss called the scandal “the result of test-obsessed school reform.”
The Atlanta case may seem to be all about teachers and administrators who faked students’ test scores to improve their own ratings. But that analysis is far too narrow. The problem in Atlanta is, simply, corruption.