Philadelphia principal, four teachers charged with faking test results

Cheating on state tests at a Philadelphia school was so open that directions were given over the public address system, the attorney general says.
By Frances Burns  |  May 8, 2014 at 2:11 PM
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HARRISBURG, Pa., May 8 (UPI) -- Evelyn Cortez, the principal of Cayuga Elementary School in Philadelphia, is facing legal repercussions after orchestrating an effort to increase scores on Pennsylvania's achievement test, the attorney general said Thursday.

In addition to Cortez, four teachers including Jennifer Hughes, Lorraine Vicente, Rita Wyszynski and Ary Sloane were charged with perpetuating cheating over the course of the past five years. Cortez, Hughes and Vicente face the most serious charges, including corrupt organizations and perjury, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said.

For five years, Cortez openly ordered cheating on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, said Kane. Students were told to put their answers on scrap paper instead of the test booklet so teachers could check them, Cortez herself sometimes walked around the classrooms during the test and gave students a tap on the shoulder to show them if an answer was incorrect.

Kane said the scheme was so open that directions were sometimes given over the public address system. Students and teachers who refused to participate were allegedly threatened.

The school is located in the Hunting Park area, one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods.

"Cheating robs children of a good education and hurts kids and families," Kane said. "The alleged misconduct by these educators is an affront to the public's trust and will not be tolerated."

Kane said an investigation into cheating on the PSSA in Philadelphia is still taking place.

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