State Cracks Down on PSSA Cheating

Sep 21, 2012

Pennsylvania’s Education Secretary says student progress on statewide tests this year declined, but the drop can be chalked up to a crackdown on cheating by educators.

The data shows 76 percent of students throughout the commonwealth tested at or above grade level in math, and 72 percent met or surpassed grade level standards for reading. Secretary Ron Tomalis says the data set from this year’s test scores is the first to accurately show student achievement in Pennsylvania schools, without the contaminating effect of falsified tests.

“We can’t go back and figure out when the cheating started, where it started, and what year, but the things that we did this year, the efforts we took, we believe that we have an accurate read.”

The state has investigated six school districts and charter schools and continues to investigate nine others, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, that are suspected of tampering with results of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSAs. The tests measure whether students are meeting annual learning benchmarks required under federal law.

Tomalis says the state will file complaints against more than 100 teachers and administrators for their involvement in falsifying test scores over the past three years. “If there’s inappropriate behavior happening in Pennsylvania classrooms, we’re going to make sure that that doesn’t continue, and those people will not be in the classroom.”

Some of those complaints could result in educators losing their teaching certification.