Pa. ed. chief orders more tests probed for possible cheating

Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis today said he has ordered all PSSA exams from 2009 on reviewed for possible testing improprieties.

"It's very concerning," Tomalis said of possible cheating in an interview.

Tomalis had already ordered 40 districts and nine charter schools flagged for possible cheating in a forensic analysis of 2009 PSSAs to investigate testing irregularities.  Now, he wants forensic analyses done for the 2010 and 2011 PSSAs, as well.

He said he wanted the work to be done as quickly as possible, and said he expects reports by the early fall.

The districts - including Philadelphia - will have 30 days to respond to the Department of Education's demands for a probe into 2009 testing flags.

Multiple Philadelphia schools had several flags for statistical irregularities.  That does not necessarily mean cheating, but can suggest it.

The state could conduct its own inquiry if districts' probes are found to be inadequate.