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Gwinnett Representative to Introduce CRCT Cheating Reform Legislation

Proposal would require educators found guilty of cheating to return bonuses and incentive pay.

A Gwinnett legislator plans to introduce legislation he hopes will remove one incentive for cheating on the high stakes Criterion Referenced Competency Tests or CRCTs.

State Representative Billy Mitchell, whose district includes portions of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, plans to introduce legislation that would force teachers found guilty of cheating on the CRCT to return any bonuses or incentive pay.

“It is not uncommon for administrators or teachers to receive bonuses or other pay incentives based on their student’s achievement levels on the CRCT,” said Rep. Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) in a released statement.  “This legislation simply calls for the return of any funds to the school system that were paid to any administrator or teacher who admits to or is found guilty of cheating or causing the cheating on any standardized test.  By passing this legislation, Georgians will be able to rest assured that those relative few bad actors would not be unjustly enriched, while their students are placed in peril.”

The legislation would affect those personnel whose salary and bonuses are awarded based on falsified student assessment results or standardized test scores. The legislation would apply to those who falsified the scores as well as those who knew the scores were falsified. Not only would any monetary incentives -- including salary increases -- be forfeited, teachers found guilty would also be required to repay any amounts previously awarded that were based on falsified student assessment results or standardized test scores.

Some groups are already voicing support for the measure.

“No one condones cheating,” said Georgia Federation of Teachers (GFT) President Verdailia Turner. “The ill-gotten fruits of cheating should be returned to Georgia’s children. This proposal is both a fair and common-sense approach.”

President Calvine Rollins of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) also voiced support.

“GAE wholeheartedly agrees with the principle behind Rep. Mitchell’s proposed legislation, in that no one should profit from the harming of our children,” Rollins said.  “This proposed legislation would not affect honest educators, and would only apply to cases that have been fully vetted for the validity of the evidence. The current version protects educators’ due process under Georgia’s Fair Dismissal Law, and we want to ensure that this protection remains in the legislation’s final language.”

Rep. Mitchell represents the citizens of District 88. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2002, and currently serves on the Health and Human Services, MARTOC, Regulated Industries and Rules committees.

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