Early on in Beverly L. Hall’s 11-year tenure as superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, she figured that the academic gains she intended to make with the city’s mostly poor, black students would face skepticism.
“I knew the day would come when people would question, was the progress real?” she said in an interview last week.
So Dr. Hall took a risk, signing up for a trial program to track and compare urban school districts. Since then, Atlanta has made the highest gains in the program in reading and among the highest in math, making it a national model and Dr. Hall a star in the education field.
But that has not insulated her from a cheating scandal that initially threatened to engulf two-thirds of the district’s 84 schools. Even after an independent investigation recently found that the problem was much less widespread, critics have called for her resignation and attacked the investigation’s credibility.