On a national level, the cheating story cuts to the heart of a major education policy debate over accountability. The Atlanta report’s conclusion that cheating resulted from a culture of fear, one spurred by rising test-score targets, fuels the argument that policies determined by test scores provide perverse incentives that are not in the best interests of students.
Atlanta’s story has its echoes throughout the country. Washington, D.C., is currently under local and federal investigation for test tampering — one teacher has already been fired. In the weeks following the Atlanta report’s release, news outlets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey published government-issued erasure reports that raise similar red flags in those states.