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12 Mar 2012

School Reform Commission announces appointment of Testing Integrity Advisor and School District introduces new testing protocols

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March 12, 2012 Category: Local Posted by:

Last week, the Chairman of the School Reform Commission (SRC), Pedro Ramos, announced the appointment of Dr. David Adamany to the position of Testing Integrity Advisor to the SRC. The School District of Philadelphia also announced the introduction of a new multi-tier testing protocol that will be put into effect during the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) testing period. These steps underline the SRC and District’s commitment to ensure that PSSA test administration is conducted with integrity.


In addition, the School District, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General will coordinate efforts in the ongoing investigations into allegations of testing improprieties in prior years.


“We are committed to taking all the steps necessary to ensure the integrity of test taking in each one of our schools and we are also determined to conduct thorough investigations into all allegations of testing improprieties,” said Pedro Ramos, Chairman of the SRC. “We believe that the vast majority of professional educators act with integrity in the administration of the PSSA test and these steps will affirm their hard work and resulting student achievement.”


As the Testing Integrity Advisor, Adamany will work without compensation. He will collaborate with District officials and state agencies to review and monitor the District’s current and proposed practices and procedures for testing security and the administration of the PSSA exam. The Advisor will also advise and assist the General Counsel in his supervision of reviews and investigations, and will report to the SRC at least monthly. A final cumulative written report will be submitted to the SRC after twelve months.


Adamany is Chancellor and Laura Carnell Professor of Law and Political Science at Temple University. He served as President at Temple from 2000 to 2006 and was interim chief executive officer of the Detroit Public Schools in 1999 – 2000 after serving as president of Wayne State University from 1982 to 1996. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.


The comprehensive actions by the District to proactively address the concerns surrounding suspected PSSA testing improprieties are as follows:


1. Monitoring & Training


  • The Office of Accountability used the results of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) three-year forensic data analysis to identify patterns that required attention.
  • Schools with a high frequency of grade-level erasures over several years were considered ‘top tier’ schools and will experience materials security controls in 2012 that are unprecedented in their scope of control.
  • The Office of Accountability trained all principals and school test coordinators in PSSA procedures.
  • In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the District is enforcing stringent protocols, including materials embargo and preventing teachers from administering the test to their own students.


2. Coordinated Investigations

  • The School District of Philadelphia is working with PDE and the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to support investigations.
  • The investigation groups District schools into four categories:
  • 200 plus District schools are clear of any testing impropriety.
  • 22 District schools are still under analytic review by PDE and were given lower priority. The priority level of some of these schools may go up or down depending on the review. Some of these schools may also be cleared by the review.
  • 20 District schools will be investigated by the District’s Office of General Counsel and under the direction of PDE. PDE and OIG have agreed to assist in training investigators. SDP is seeking outside pro bono lawyers and trained investigators to serve in the investigation.
  • 11 District schools and two charter schools are currently under investigation by PDE and OIG; the District is not participating as the lead agency partner in these investigations. The District is providing logistic and other support to PDE.
  • Additional charter school investigation(s) will be handled by PDE.


3. Comprehensive Analyses

  • Accountability measures based on PSSA performance for any schools linked to any investigation into testing impropriety will be given special consideration; data and accountability measures will be subject to a comprehensive analysis that factors in other data sources (e.g. forensic data, local performance data, and other indicators of academic performance)
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