State Expands Analysis of PSSA Test Scores

Article excerpt

By this fall, the state Department of Education will know whether schools flagged in 2009 for possible cheating on a standardized test show the same irregularities for 2010 and 2011.

Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said on Thursday he ordered a retroactive analysis of the 2010 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment results, which determines whether schools are meeting standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It will cost $108,000.

Tomalis said he decided on an analysis of the 2011 test, which students took this spring, shortly after he took office in January.

"This whole issue of test security has been a concern of mine for many years," he said. "It's a big concern of people in education across the country."

The state did not perform a 2010 analysis, citing budget restrictions. Department spokesman Tim Eller said the 2009 report -- which didn't surface until this week -- was the first of its kind.

It found 90 schools statewide with testing irregularities related to statistically improbable changes in scores, participation and pencil erasures. Tomalis said he didn't find out about the report until this week.

New Jersey-based Caveon Test Security, which will help with the 2011 analysis, has been busier in the past two years as more state education departments seek to ensure the validity of test results, said company vice president Steve Addicott. …