Officials said today that the schools' test scores were improved significantly by the changes, which meant the schools made "adequate yearly progress" under federal standards. If the answers had not been changed, the four schools would not have met No Child Left Behind standards and would have faced penalties under the federal law.
The schools had high numbers of erasures on a fifth-grade math Criterion-Referenced Competency Test taken last summer, Kathleen Mathers from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement told the state Board of Education.
"We have very strong information to say someone changed these answers," she said.
The school districts are also investigating, she said.
Schools that don't make "adequate yearly progress" each year must offer tutoring and allow parents to transfer their children to higher performing schools.
The state Professional Standards Commission, which oversees teacher certification, will investigate who is to blame for the cheating, Mathers said. The state school board will vote next month on whether to toss out the test scores, which would mean the schools would revert to the federal "needs improvement" list for schools that don't pass muster.
The schools are: Atherton Elementary in DeKalb County, Deerwood Academy in Atlanta, Parklane Elementary in Fulton County and Burroughs-Molette Elementary in Glynn County.