The APS Cheating Scandal: How it all began

ATLANTA — It's been more than four years since the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal was uncovered.

The investigation into the school district's test scores started when a small group of reporters with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noticed odd patterns with Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests scores.

"All the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its reporters were ever after was the truth," Editor in Chief Kevin Riley told Channel 2's Erin Coleman. "The initial reaction was, 'It's not cheating, we're not doing anything wrong,' and that went on for years, and nobody wanted to believe that things weren't right with Atlanta Public Schools, and the paper was criticized for years, our reporters were criticized for years."

Those reporters looked at CRCT scores and noticed what was statistically improbable: huge increases in scores.

"There were cases where the chances of that happening were 1 in 10 million or 1 in a billion that kids would naturally make that kind of progress," Riley said.

John Perry was the researcher who did hours and hours of computer analysis on test scores. Alan Judd was one of those reporters who kept digging.

But the paper got push-back, particularly from the Atlanta business community.

"It was not something very many people wanted to hear. It particularly upset business leaders because all of a sudden, Atlanta was being painted as a place with education problems," Riley said.

Now, with the indictment of 35 educators on 65 counts, including former school superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, a new chapter of this story begins.

The AJC looked at test scores in every state and found thousands of schools have similar patterns. So it's not just Atlanta that has this problem.