PSEA President: Test tampering is wrong, and so are the Corbett Administration’s excuses on education
PSEA President Mike Crossey released a September 21 statement in response to the Corbett Administration’s claim that a statewide drop in PSSA scores is a result of a yet-to-be-completed investigation of cheating in a small number of schools:
“The Corbett administration released Pennsylvania’s PSSA test scores for the 2011-12 school year and tried to blame a slight drop in statewide scores on a miniscule number of schools in which there have been allegations of cheating on the tests,” said PSEA President Mike Crossey.
“Focusing on an investigation in a small number of classrooms in a small number of schools instead of acknowledging the impact of nearly $1 billion in funding cuts to all schools is a disservice to students, teachers, parents and taxpayers.
“Tampering with student tests is wrong, and that is why PSEA supports efforts to ensure the validity of testing procedures and student test score results,” Crossey said. “But it is important to remember that the vast majority of educators followed the rules. In the small number of cases where that didn’t happen – allegedly 100 educators out of more than 130,000 statewide – those individuals should be held accountable.
“As parents know, Pennsylvania educators are dedicated to student achievement and work every day to help them learn,” Crossey said. “But who really thinks state government can cut nearly $1 billion from the public schools, cut 14,000 educators, and eliminate programs that work for students – without impacting student achievement?”
“It defies logic that the Corbett Administration could reasonably expect student performance on standardized tests would improve after cutting nearly $1 billion from the public schools,” Crossey said. “These unprecedented cuts have forced school districts to increase class sizes, cut programs that work for students, and eliminate tutoring programs that help students who struggle to meet academic goals.
“Under the previous administration, Pennsylvania invested in public education and students made steady gains in academic achievement on PSSA tests and several other indicators,” Crossey said. “The Corbett Administration cut nearly $1 billion from public school funding – and PSSA scores declined.
“And now, the same Corbett administration is claiming the reason for a drop in test scores is because test security was tightened.
“Let’s weigh the evidence: On the one hand, 60 percent of school districts increased class size; 58 percent cut music, art, physical education or advanced placement classes; 75 percent reduced staff by furloughs or attrition; 37 percent cut tutoring and after-school programs; and our schools lost 14,000 education professionals,” Crossey said.
“On the other hand, we have some classrooms in 3 percent of school districts and charter schools involved in cheating investigations,” Crossey said. “Attributing the cause to the miniscule number of cheating investigations and overlooking funding cuts is illogical and nonsensical.
“The need to restore state funding to public schools is urgent,” Crossey said. “Earlier this year, PSEA released ‘Sounding The Alarm,’ a research report showing that a combination of nearly $1 billion in cuts and a toxic mixture of bad state education laws are forcing dramatic cuts to student programs and pushing a growing number of school districts to the financial brink.”
Learn more at www.psea.org/soundingthealarm.
PSEA has created an online calculator to help Pennsylvanians understand how Gov. Tom Corbett’s state funding cuts have specifically affected their local school districts.
Crossey said the calculator, which shows how much state funding for local schools has dropped since Gov. Corbett took office, is available at www.savepaschools.org and www.psea.org/schoolcuts.