Falsification, annual targets, and errant leadership: media portrayal of the Atlanta test-cheating scandal
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Freeman, Eric. 2015. Falsification, annual targets, and errant leadership: media portrayal of the Atlanta test-cheating scandal. Educational Policy, November 2015:vol. 29:no. 7:pp 1012-1052
This analysis of the Atlanta test-cheating scandal differs markedly from the version reported in the press. Using discourse analysis, I examined over 50 articles published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), the hometown newspaper at the center of the investigation. Because newspapers are a primary source of information, the AJC's discursive framing of test-tampering and systemic wrongdoing was a powerful voice in shaping how the public understood what happened. But failure to situate the scandal in a context of economic deprivation and residential segregation while omitting discussion of the damaging cognitive and academic effects that stem from living in distressed neighborhoods meant the AJC depicted a misleading version of events. Although the school district has recovered, the inequalities which fomented the crisis remain intact. I revisit the Atlanta Compromise of 1973 to conclude that as in the past, a policy of schools alone is an insufficient corrective for educational disadvantage.
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