Standardized test cheating scandal in Philadelphia leads to three principals being fired

Ongoing investigations on the Philadelphia cheating scandal resulted in the firing of three high school principals who’ve been implicated. Cheating allegations on standardized test exams from 2009 to 2011 spurred a statewide probing of Philadelphia schools’.

State prosecution begun in 2011 after information have been obtained regarding extensive cheating by teachers and principals in numerous Philadelphia schools. Already, three Philadelphia high school principals have been fired due to allegations that suggest their involvement in manipulating test scores.

In total, 138 educators and administrative staff are speculated to be involved in the cheating scandal. The Philadelphia school district and the State department of Education are carrying out the investigation. A suspiciously large number of tests were discovered to have wrong answers erased and the correct answers filled in. Inevitably, this instigated the investigations back in 2011.

The Philadelphia scandal reflects wider a pattern of problematic testing structure. In similar cheating scandals like those in Atlanta and Baltimore, the implicated educators often report that the pressure to reach district performance goals urges many educators to change standardized tests’ scores to keep their jobs and meet their superintendents’ milestones.

Philadelphia’s cheating scandal comes as no surprise to many. Since 2009, more than 35 states have been dealing with their own cheating scandals, at all education levels. From primary schools to top-tier colleges, no educational institution seems immune to cheating impulses.

When teachers, principals and other key players are held accountable for students’ performance, it partly explains why cheating is so widespread. Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers told the NY Times that standardized tests have become a means for punishing underperforming educators and schools, rather than promoting learning. Apart from the three laid-off principals, 29 employees have been also fired so far. Out of the 69 implicated employees, 46 were educators.

Would rigorous proctoring be the solution for preventing future cheating scandals in education, or does the solution lie in disassociating high-stakes exams from teacher performance? Leave us a comment and share your feedback.