Ex-principal: Adult cheating hurts students

Test scores were up sharply at Communications Technology High in Philadelphia. The new principal, Saliyah Cruz, wondered how so many students could score proficient on the state exam while also testing into remedial reading and math. Two years later, an investigation found evidence of cheating by adults, reports NewsWorks and Philadelphia Notebook. Students paid a high price, says Cruz, who quit in frustration.

In 2010, 75 percent of 11th graders at Comm Tech scored proficient or above in reading. That was a 22 percentage-point jump over the previous year. In math, 70 percent of Comm Tech 11th graders scored proficient or above, 40 points higher than the year before.

. . . In both 2009 and 2010, a high number of student response sheets at Comm Tech had suspicious patterns of “wrong-to-right” erasures – a telltale sign of adult cheating.

When Cruz asked the school’s staff why scores had soared, they credited “Study Island,” a computer-based test prep program used at many Philadelphia public schools. Cruz expanded use of Study Island.

Reports generated by Study Island suggested that students didn’t understand the material. Interim tests used to predict PSSA performance pointed to huge score drops. Cruz’s own eyes told her that students weren’t learning.

Her staff resisted her efforts to get teachers to “change their instruction or re-teach content.” After all, the test scores were great.

As a result, says Cruz, students at Comm Tech got a Band-Aid when what they really needed was surgery.

With Cruz as principal, there were no more suspicious erasures. The school’s scores dropped 38 points in reading and 45 points in math.

At the district level, principals were pushed to show rapid gains, Cruz says. Slow, steady improvement was not good enough. Principals under suspicion of cheating have been promoted, including Cruz’s predecessor at Comm Tech, reports NewsWorks and Notebook.

About Joanne


  1. Well I feel vindicated. Anyone care to blame the students or their parents?

  2. The headline should say: Ex-principal at center of cheating scandal.

    • And yet it doesn’t. You should consider dealing with reality but I will acknowledge reality’s definitely got some serious inconveniences as far as you’d be concerned.

      By the way, 41% of Detroit’s public school kids now got to charter schools.

      That number will go up since the Detroit School district board of education is more interested in reclaiming their perquisites from the governor then they are in getting kids educated.

      • Allen, the principal was in charge, therefore she or he is responsible for what went on in the school.

        WTF does Detroit charter schools have to do with it? Were you THAT hard up for something to say and couldn’t come up with anything intelligent?

        • And there’s an example of the name-calling in which never indulge.

          As for the principal, oh *sure* she was in charge…provided she was willing to falsify scores so a rotten school could look better then it was.

          And if she wasn’t willing to play along?

          Then her superiors were more then willing to undercut her silly desire to run a good school. After all, in public education education’s the least important concern and if a principal doesn’t get that then to hell with her.

          Oh, and about Detroit, I’m just so pleased when another crack appears in the monolithic facade of that dreadful institution, the American public education system that I just have to relate it. And of course it’s gratifying to see you metaphorically grind your teeth in impotent rage.

          • Did you guys click through to read the original article? Cruz came in as principal for the 2010-2011 school year. The cheating was under the prior principal, McCreery. Under Cruz, the suspicious erasures went away and the test scores dropped back down to their realistic abysmal levels.

            The ex-principal who said that cheating by adults was hurting students (Cruz) is different from the ex-principal under whose watch the cheating occurred (McCreery).

          • Thanks a bunch for the recap but the area of disagreement between Mike and I lies in Mike’s reflexive defense of the educational status quo.

            Cheating on tests by education professionals undercuts the unspoken narrative that those education professionals are dedicated to the education of each and every precious tyke. Mike’s not concerned with principals but undercutting that narrative erodes the public assumption that teachers are also, one and all, founts of compassion. Can’t have that.

            The public education system is perfect other then the fact that the system isn’t overtly dedicated to the comfort and security of teachers. Annoying individuals like Principal Cruz endanger the preferable, if not particularly pleasant, status quo by concerning themselves with the education of the kids.

            Who the heck needs dopes like that? They just make life difficult for the education professionals who “get it” and whose goal in life is to make it through to retirement.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            I don’t think Mike has a “reflexive defense of the educational status quo.” I’ll bet he would change a lot of things if he had the power.

            What I think he does have is a romantic view of government, coupled with a diabolic view of profit-making businesses. Government is “public” and concerned with the “public interest”–or at least would be if it (and the public!) weren’t corrupted by greedy businesses who are always looking to make a buck by screwing people.

            Thus, his instinct is to oppose anything that takes money and power from “public” institutions–and to see anyone who argues for that as a paid tool of business, or an unwitting lackey.

            (Allen, I suspect he would regard you as the latter. Mike, I hope this is not an unfair characterization.)

          • No, I don’t think Mike, and many people who believe as he does, would change all that much. What’s there to change that’s worth the effort?

            Mike doesn’t have to demonstrate professional competence, is well paid for the short work day, and year, expected of him, has excellent job security once he attains a modest level of seniority and, up until recently could have expected that agreeable state of affairs to continue until retirement.

            Mike’s single, consistent beef with the public education system is that it isn’t run by and for teachers. He makes the occasional, insincere effort to defend “local control”, i.e. the district-based model but that modest effort is trumped by his consistent dismissal of any opinions or facts about education that don’t issue from a current or former teacher. Unless they’re supportive of the district model of course.

            As for his “diabolic view of profit-making businesses”, that’s just a handy cudgel to belabor one threat to the extant public education system – charters. Mike may also be an ideological lefty but he limits his posts to the self-serving defense of the district-based public education system since, on the subject of education, there’s a distinct, and expanding, rift on the left. He has no kind words for lefties so misguided as to note the horrendous job the public education system’s done for the nation’s poor.

  3. Well, we’ve filled kids heads with so much self-esteem nonsense and when reality comes up and bites ’em in the keester, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, least of all parents or students that they actually don’t know much of anything