A former Atlanta Public Schools principal testified Friday that some of her incoming sixth-graders couldn't read, write or do multiplication despite the fact they passed the
Patricia Wells was principal at Carson Middle School in northwest Atlanta. She testified in the witness influencing trial of former APS Area Director Tamara Cotman. Prosecutors said Cotman intimidated a witness during the GBI's investigation into the CRCT cheating scandal.
Wells told jurors she and other teachers noticed something was wrong with her incoming sixth-graders just weeks into the new school year.
"It meant they can't read," said Wells. "They couldn't write. It was deplorable. Could not multiply. They weren't proficient in those areas."
But Wells said the students had passed the CRCTs, which meant they were supposed to be proficient in those areas. When she said she met with several of the students, some told her there was cheating on the CRCT.
When Wells brought her concerns to Cotman, her direct supervisor, she said Cotman seemed more concerned about direct proof than getting to the bottom of the problem.
Wells later testified that weeks after that meeting, Cotman gave her a Professional Development Plan, or PDP, which essentially is a warning to improve or you could be removed from your job. She said Cotman cited the fact that Carson Middle had not met Adequate Yearly Progress.
"It was always pounded that we needed to make AYP," testified Wells. "How am I going to make AYP if my kids are not equipped to make AYP? It was a big concern for me, because I'm like, how can I make AYP if my kids are not performing at the level that they should be?"