The AP provides details of exactly how cheating in Atlanta schools occurred. Teachers actively changed students' wrong answers to right ones, and also sat struggling students next to their high-scoring peers so they could copy answers. 172 teachers were identified in a report on the matter, and 82 have admitted their guilt. They may face a variety of charges.
The article quotes teachers describing the intimidation they faced from principals who threatened their job security. It's clear that there was incredible pressure from school administrators to raise student scores, regardless of how far behind students were when the year began. And now it seems the district may have to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars earned for good test scores at a time when funds were short to begin with.
It's disheartening to think that faced with thousands of struggling students in a huge urban school district in a major city with millions of people, educators put all their heads together, used the wisdom of their professional experiences and all of their schooling, took advantage of whatever resources they had access to and decided the best way to bring scores up would be... to hope everyone cheated off the smart kids and to rebubble the tests of the kids who didn't.