Phila. school district responds to cheating suspicions

July 13, 2011 4:22:47 PM PDT
Investigators are looking into possible cheating on statewide tests in Philadelphia public and charter schools.

Sources say the Roosevelt Middle School in East Germantown is on the target list of state investigators. Some teachers there told outside investigators they'd witnessed many test security breaches.

Plus, Roosevelt student have had what is considered a remarkable rise in test scores in recent years, scores rising by 50 points and more.

60 schools have been flagged statewide for irregularities that have general some suspension of possible cheating. 22 are Philadelphia public schools and another seven are Philadelphia charter schools.

In Philadelphia, the staffers in charge of Standards and Accountability say they have not seen the state report.

They probed 15 allegations of cheating in the district this year.

"Those were reports that came about from our own internal monitoring because the school district has always taken a proactive stance around test integrity," Deputy Chief of Accountability Fran Newberg said.

The probe by Pennsylvania's Department of Educators comes days after a massive teacher cheating scandal was officially uncovered in the Atlanta, Georgia public schools.

In a terse statement, the leader of Philadelphia's teacher union said: "My teachers don't cheat."

Local officials say there is no sign of mass scandal here.

"We stand behind the vast majority of our teachers who we are sure are doing a faithful job of adhering to the tests," Dan Piotrowski said.

A state probe into cheating in Pennsylvania could take months or maybe years before completion.

For years now, through various administrations, the Philadelphia School District have hailed the rising test scores. Now, any hint of scandal, even though not proven, is a brutal kick in the stomach as mass layoffs proceed, as well.