Philadelphia's Testing Scandal

Jan 24, 2014

Philadelphia is firing principals in the latest scandal over cheating on standardized tests. As The New York Times reports, a large number of erasure marks in testing booklets raised red flags and led to the investigation that uncovered the cheating.

The scandal, one of the largest in the country, has implicated 137 educators at 27 different schools over a three-year period.

I have heard whispers about changed answers on tests in Rhode Island, but my efforts to get the booklets in question ran into a roadblock. The State Department of Education said there was no evidence of statistically questionable results at the school in question and refused to provide the booklets. Education officials cited the state's open records law, saying it does not require test booklets to be made available to the public.

It's worth noting that in Philadelphia, it was the testing company itself that noticed the erasure marks and notified district officials. The district launched its own investigation after learning of the irregularities.

When I made my request for Rhode Island test booklets, state officials said they would consider releasing the documents only if strong evidence of potential irregularities existed. Still, I would have liked to get a look at those answer sheets.