Philly schools: More data needed in cheating probe

PHILADELPHIA - August 15, 2011

Last month, state investigators found suspicious erasure patterns and unusual test scores at some schools.

Today, the School District of Philadelphia responded, saying it can't say if there was cheating. School officials say the state information is too general to even launch an investigation at any of the 13 schools the District concedes are under a cloud.

"We don't think that's adequate. We would like to see student by student files," Deputy Chief of Accountability Dr. Francis Newburg said.

Philadelphia is one of 49 districts statewide that was ordered to look into scoring irregularities on the 2009 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams, also known as the PSSA.

Philadelphia is asking the state for studies of other years.

"They really just looked at the 2009 PSSA results; they didn't do any multi-year comparisons," Director of Accountablity Daniel Piotrowski said.

Then there are the published allegations by staffers of students getting improper assistance on test day at Roosevelt Middle School.

"We have spent three days there interviewing students, teachers, administrators, no one named a teacher as doing terms of erasure," Newburg said.

So, again, could there have been wholesale cheating in 2009?

The District says it cannot answer that until it gets more information from Harrisburg or a whistleblower comes forward.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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