PHILADELPHIA – Dozens of Philadelphia school employees allegedly involved in a school cheating scheme could soon face termination after officials launched multiple investigations into questionable erasure patterns on state tests.
Three principals were fired from the district last week and school officials expect termination proceedings to begin against numerous other employees in the coming weeks.
“Some administrators were giving answer keys to teachers who passed them on to students. In other cases, principals took completed exams home at night and doctored the answer sheets,” the New York Times reports. “And in some schools, teachers and administrators gathered secretly in conference rooms with test booklets, pencils and erasers and changed wrong answers.”
The questionable erasure patterns, discovered by a company hired to grade the tests, were found on tests from 2009 through 2011. The widespread cheating involved 138 educators at 27 schools, including three charter schools, according to the Times.
Lewis C. Cassidy Elementary Principal Deidre Bennett, Kensington Urban Education High School Principal Michelle Burns and Lamberton Elementary School Principal Marla Travis-Curtis were fired this week.
“Twenty other educators have retired, resigned or been laid off for economic reasons, and another 37 are still employed by the district, awaiting disciplinary action,” the Times reports.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan used the cheating scandal to rail on standardized tests and the looming threat of district officials converting bad schools into charter schools.
Jordan told the Wall Street Journal that during the time the cheating took place “there was a mood in the district that people knew they have to improve student outcomes or they would be in trouble.”
So that somehow justifies cheating to improve student outcomes? That’s seems to be the union’s line of logic here, which is virtually the same position the teachers union took in the Atlanta cheating scandal.
Commonwealth Association of School Administrators President Robert McGrogan is already trying to blame the problems on investigators, instead of focusing on holding administrators accountable for their actions.
“They acted in haste,” he said. “The district basically did ready, shoot, aim – instead of ready, aim, fire,” McGrogan said.
The bottom line is, for whatever reason, a lot of Philadelphia school administrators and teachers fudged student tests to make themselves look better, plain and simple. The sad part is student test scores are so terrible, it’s hard to imagine how bad the real results are.
There is a silver lining, however. The cheating scandal provides an excellent opportunity for district leaders like Superintendent William Hite Jr. – who wasn’t in Philadelphia when the cheating occurred – to purge the district of its immoral and lazy educators to make room for those who actually want to teach.