Reprise 2013: How Pennsylvania Schools Made a Cheating Scandal Disappear
Tainted scores throw an entire way of running schools into question.
City Paper by Daniel Denvir Posted: Thu, Jul. 18, 2013, 12:00 AM
The odds that 11th-graders at Strawberry Mansion High School would have randomly erased so many wrong answers on the math portion of their 2009 state standardized test and then filled in so many right ones were long. Very, very long. To be precise, they were less than one in a duodecillion, according to an erasure analysis performed for the state Department of Education.
In short, there appeared to be cheating — and it didn’t come as a total surprise. In 2006, student members of Youth United for Change protested being forced out of class for test-preparation sessions and won concessions from the district. In 2010, principal Lois Powell-Mondesire left Strawberry Mansion; after her departure, test scores dropped sharply.
Republican Herald BY PETER E. BORTNER / PUBLISHED: APRIL 13, 2017
The Erie School District’s projected budget deficit remains a huge challenge, but it has dropped by $500,000. Due to additional savings this fiscal year, the district administration has reduced the deficit to $9.5 million from $10 million for fiscal 2017-18, which starts July 1. The district still is hoping to get additional state aid to help eliminate the deficit and improve its buildings and programs. But as it waits on Harrisburg to fashion a statewide budget, due July 1, the district continues to search for more savings and revenue and adjust its budget. “We always refine it,” Superintendent Jay Badams said. Badams and the district’s chief financial officer, Brian Polito, explained the reduction of the deficit to $9.5 million at the School Board’s nonvoting study session on Wednesday night. The board met for four hours to review the five options the administration has developed to reconfigure the district’s schools — the massive cost-savings initiative the district is set to undertake in 2017-18, no matter what the outcome of the request for additional state funding.
Want to know what’s spent per student at a public school near you? Or whether it’s more or less than what’s spent at another school up the road? While it may seem crazy, in most communities you’d need to be a forensic accountant to get answers to such seemingly straightforward questions. That’s because what typically gets tracked and reported in this country is district-level spending. (And even that can take several years to be released to the public.) But that’s all about to change. A sleeper provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act—come December 2018—will serve up a motherlode of never-before-available school-level financial data. If we seize the unprecedented opportunity this data offers, we will be better equipped to tackle some of education’s most pressing issues—like the need for greater equity and productivity—and help schools across the country do better for their students. Backed with bipartisan support, ESSA’s financial transparency clause calls on states to publicly report spending by school starting in the 2017-18 school year—and do so just six months after the school year ends. This wasn’t intended as some compliance thing, where the data get sent to the feds for review and a box gets checked on a form somewhere. The intent was to make spending data public and accessible to communities and school systems, unmasking systemic fiscal inequities among schools in the same district and making it much easier to investigate (and understand) the relationship between school outcomes and school spending. Bottom line: This data bonanza has the potential to touch school leaders, students, and communities nationwide.
— Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Senate Appropriations Committee chair
- Monday, May 1, 6-8 p.m. — Parkway West CTC, 7101 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA 15071
- Tuesday, May 2, 7:30-9 a.m. — A W Beattie Career Center, 9600 Babcock Blvd, Allison Park, PA 15101
- Tuesday, May 2, 6-8 p.m. — Crawford County CTC, 860 Thurston Road, Meadville, PA 16335
- Wednesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m. — St. Marys Area School District, 977 S. St Marys Road, Saint Marys, PA 15857
- Thursday, May 4, 6-8 p.m. — Central Montco Technical High School, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
- Friday, May 5, 7:30-9 a.m. — Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4525 Education Park Dr, Schnecksville, PA 18078
- Monday, May 15, 6-8 p.m. — CTC of Lackawanna Co., 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
- Tuesday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. — PSBA, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
- Wednesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. — Lycoming CTC, 293 Cemetery Street, Hughesville, PA 17737
- Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. — Chestnut Ridge SD, 3281 Valley Road, Fishertown, PA 15539