The state Education Secretary says the results of the 2011-12 PSSA tests reflect actual student performance after an investigation of exams from three previous years. Compared to the 2010-11 results, the latest Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores declined by 1.4% in math and 1.6% in reading
These are the first tests since the state started taking a closer look at alleged cheating in some districts. State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis says investigations continue in nine districts and charter schools and the department expects to file complaints against more than 100 educators suspected of misconduct in administering the tests.
Only 49% of the state’s public schools met Adequate Yearly Progress. Many districts fell short due to new federal regulations that require high school graduation rates to be factored in to the calculation. Statewide, the number of students performing at or above grade level for math was 75.7%, for reading it was 71.9%, for writing it was 73.2%, and for science it was 61.4%.
Tomalis calls the results a reset. He says if you take out schools under investigation, achievement was flat. The investigation has already resulted in increased test security measures, including monitors in schools that were under investigation.
The state’s largest teacher’s union is also pointing a finger at the Corbett administration for the lower PSSA scores . The Pennsylvania State Education Association says most educators know tampering or cheating is wrong, but it’s also wrong for the Corbett administration to use a small number of incidents to claim a statewide decline in test scores.
Spokesman Wythe Keever says the previous administration invested in public schools and students made steady gains, the Corbett administration cut nearly one billion from state funding and standardized test scores declined. He says the need to restore funding to public schools is urgent.