by Christopher Paslay
Although dozens of school districts across the state are under investigation for cheating, it appears the Pennsylvania Department of Education has singled out the Philadelphia School District for special treatment.
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook writes:
“In the wake of concerns about cheating on state exams, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has prohibited Philadelphia teachers – but apparently not teachers in other districts across the state – from administering the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test to their own students.”
This stinks for three reasons:
- The Philadelphia School District is being singled out, despite the fact that numerous school districts across the state are under investigations for cheating.
- These special restrictions on Philadelphia schools violate the uniformity of the administration of the tests and therefore keep them from being genuinely standard.
- The fact that the state waited until two weeks before the tests to make this announcement is unacceptable. The logistical planning and training for the administration of these tests has been going on for weeks. Now, Philadelphia public schools will be forced to change plans and procedures, and this may very well result in unforeseen organizational issues that could compromise the efficiency of the testing environment. Was the state not aware of these restrictions before now?
Philadelphia School District officials, and perhaps even Mayor Nutter, must bring these equity issues to the attention of the state as soon as possible. The city must demand that its schools be treated fairly, and not allow the state to make-up rules as it goes along.