EDUCATION

11 Atlanta educators convicted in vast cheating scandal; 'Very, very dangerous business'

  • Former Atlanta Public Schools school research team director Michael Pitts, right, listens as a jury found hims guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Pitts and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

    Former Atlanta Public Schools school research team director Michael Pitts, right, listens as a jury found hims guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Pitts and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Donald Bullock, left, former Atlanta Public Schools Usher-Collier Heights Elementary testing coordinator, reacts as a jury finds him guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Bullock and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

    Donald Bullock, left, former Atlanta Public Schools Usher-Collier Heights Elementary testing coordinator, reacts as a jury finds him guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Bullock and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Defense attorney Robert Rubin, left, and former Former Atlanta Public Schools school research team director Sharon Davis Williams, listen as the verdicts are read in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Williams and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)

    Defense attorney Robert Rubin, left, and former Former Atlanta Public Schools school research team director Sharon Davis Williams, listen as the verdicts are read in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Williams and 10 other former Atlanta Public Schools educators accused of participating in a test cheating conspiracy that drew nationwide attention were convicted Wednesday of racketeering charges. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Eleven former public school educators were convicted Wednesday for their role in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams — one of the biggest cheating scandals of its kind in the U.S.

The defendants, including teachers, a principal and other administrators, were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in the 50,000-student Atlanta school system. A 12th defendant, a teacher, was acquitted of all charges.

Thirty-five educators in all were indicted in 2013 on charges including racketeering, making false statements and theft. Many pleaded guilty, and some testified at the trial. Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall never went to trial, arguing she was too sick. She died a month ago of breast cancer.

Hall was named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009 and credited with raising student test scores and graduation rates, particularly among the district's poor and minority students. But the award quickly lost its luster as her district became mired in the scandal.

Hall insisted she was innocent. But educators said she was among higher-ups pressuring them to inflate students' scores to show gains in achievement and meet federal benchmarks that would unlock extra funding.

The cheating came to light after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.