Amid cheating allegations, district appoints 'integrity advisor'

Amid allegations of state exam cheating at multiple Philadelphia School District schools, the School Reform Commission on Tuesday appointed a former Temple University president as its "testing integrity advisor."  David Adamany will work without pay to "review and monitor the district's current and proposed practicees and procedures for testing security and the administration of the PSSA exam."

The news comes two days after The Inquirer reported about more cheating allegations at Cayuga Elementary.  Teachers from Roosevelt Middle School - have also told The Inquirer about what they say is widespread cheating over the past several years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state Inspector General's office are currently investigating possible PSSA cheating in dozens of schools statewide in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 exams.  Sources said that more than 50 Philadelphia schools are being looked at, as well a handful of charters around the region, and schools elsewhere in the state.

The district Tuesday said that 11 district schools and two charter schools are currently under investigation by the state education department and inspector general's office.  The district is not leading these investigations, but is providing "logistical and other support" to the state.

Twenty more district schools will be investigated by the district's General Counsel office under the direction of the state education department.  The state will train investigators, but the district is seeking outside, pro bono attorneys to help.

Twenty-two additional district schools are under "analytic review" by the state education department and were given "lower priority," the district said.  The review is ongoing, but some schools may be cleared.

Additional charter schools will be investigated by the education department.

The district on Tuesday also said it would begin a new, multi-tiered system of testing procedures for the upcoming PSSAs, which are scheduled to begin statewide next week.

In a statement, SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said that the district was "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."

Adamany will work with state and the district.  He will coordinate with the district's general counsel in the supervision of reviews and investigations, and will report to the SRC "at least monthly."  At the end of 12 months, Adamany will submit a final, written report to the SRC.  Adamany, who retired as president of Temple in 2006, is a professor of law and political science at Temple.  He served as interim chief executive officer of the Detroit public schools in 1999-2000, and holds a law degree from Harvard and a doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.