Philadelphia school principal, four teachers face criminal charges for cheating scandal

By Kyle Johnson,

A Philadelphia school principal and four teachers face criminal charges over allegedly cheating on a state test to improve scores.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says the cheating occurred between 2007 and 2012 on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment at the Cayuga Elementary School, reports NBC 10. When the cheating was uncovered, testing scores fell the following year, with the School District of Philadelphia saying the drop was a significant one.

Teachers Lorraine Vicente, Ary Sloane, Jennifer Huges, Rita Wyszynski and principal Evelyn Cortez are accused of both providing answers to students and reviewing actual test questions before students took the test.

According to prosecutors, Cortez would visit classrooms during exam time and look over students' shoulders and inform them if she noticed a wrong answer.

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

The grand jury report outlined the stress the PSSA scores put upon school educators as poor scores could result in a demotion or loss of job, according to The Associated Press. "When PSSA scores went up, school principals received promotion and accolades. Others avoided demotions and terminations."

Kane noted that she believed the problem to be "very widespread," as cheating has been discovered in schools in Atlanta, Nevada and others.

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