Saturday, December 29, 2012

Certain PPS teachers reprimanded for cheating

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Pittsburgh teachers reprimanded for 'testing irregularities'
“The investigation focused on excessive erasures that changed wrong answers to right ones.
In the letter, Ms. Dumaresq named 11 schools for which the department found at least one grade had "a high number of students with a high number of wrong-to-right erasures in at least one of the identified years."
The schools are Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5 in Lawrenceville, Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville, Dilworth PreK-5 in East Liberty, Faison PreK-5 in Homewood, Fort Pitt PreK-5 in Garfield, Fulton PreK-5 in Highland Park, Liberty K-5 in Shadyside, Montessori PreK-8 in Friendship, Roosevelt PreK-5 in Carrick, Schiller 6-8 on the North Side and Stevens K-8 in Elliott.
Ms. Dumaresq's letter did not say how many teachers were investigated nor how many would receive training . . . . .”

Read more:


Questioner said...

At a 2008 public hearing the Board and administration were warned of reports of cheating and notified that testing companies would provide erasure reports free of charge, but there is no indication that anything was done until the state found irregularities.

Anonymous said...

How many of these schools are STAR schools? How many of these teachers received bonuses? How many of these principals received bonuses?

What will happen now? Will they give back the bonuses?

Will these principals still be "super" principals, guiding all of those who did not resort to "irregularities"? (That program is now in place in PPS ??????

Anonymous said...

So, 19 teachers (classrooms?) in 11 schools, but only 2 teachers reprimanded and some sorts of difficulties sorting it out?

That is an odd mix of facts in the story. It would be important to know if that's 10 schools with one teacher and one school with 9 teachers...versus one or two teachers at each of the eleven.

The way it's written it sounds as though ONLY teachers are implicated, though the first example above (teachers clustered in one or two schools) would seem to indicate more systemic cheating, while the more spread out suggests renegade teachers.

I don't even understand the "maternity leave" issue -- I get that it means that the teacher who wasn't even in the school likely isn't responsible, but it doesn't say who might be -- the long-term sub? the ITL? the principal?

There are two schools on the list that I've heard recurrent rumors about more systemic cheating, but without more info, it's impossible to tell.

Anonymous said...

The title of Eleanor Chute's article is interesting to say the least.

'testing irregularities'

Raises a lot of questions, doesn't it?

As has been said here before, Eleanor Chute always casts PPS in the best possible light. (Does someone in central office have mate in high position at the PG?)

The PG protects the public from the "irregularities" of Pittsburgh Public Schools to the best of its ability.

Anonymous said...

10:49 - It is highly unlikely that the citizens of Pittsburgh will ever know the depth of deceit or decline in PPS. The cover-up process goes even deeper.

Anonymous said...

Was there any cheating? Who knows.

But I am very bothered by a process that makes career-damaging accusations based on "atypical erasure patterns."

How could a person accused of such a thing provide any sort of defense?

It's seems to me that the testing protocol itself is at fault. The tests should never have been left alone with any one person.

Questioner said...

PG reporters have noted that they don't write the headlines for their articles.

Re: the teacher on maternity leave- that fact was probably highlighted to shed doubt on the whole investigation, but this is just one year for one teacher of 19. What about the rest of the results?

Questioner said...

One of the concerns noted at the 2008 public hearing was that better procedures were needed so that staff would not be wrongly accused.

Anonymous said...

The article really tells us nothing. Other than the two teachers getting reprimanded what has happened? With only two actions couldn't a reader assume no wrong was done at most of the schools listed. This should advance the "district of first choice" goal. Not too many years ago there were in-school events, pep rallies, motivational measures made prior to the PSSA. Did the money run out to support those things? More likely they stopped working since kids are sick of the test by now and all the stress and hoopla around it.

Anonymous said...

Not good to hear about "stress and hoopla" around the PSSA. The PSSA has been in place for 15 years and the same thinking skills are tested every year. Most of the skills (not content) are tested every year from grades 3 to 11. If PPS students have not learned how to distinguish fact from opinion or identify the main idea, etc. after being tested on those same skills every year from grades 3 to 11 its a sad, sad day for education in Pittsburgh.

In most schools there is no preparation for the test, since the kids can 'ace it" without a care. Why? Because it is what they do every day in every class for as many years as they have been in school as part of the teaching and learning process.

The PPS scores, the inability to make AYP, and/or "testing irregularities" make you question what is going on every day in PPS schools?

Anonymous said...

The PA Standards constitute 87% of the new CCSS and the PSSA has been in place since the late 90's.

They just test whether you can read and understand what you read and do Math (the same Math we all learned in school) one way or another.

I wonder why this is so difficult for children in Pittsburgh schools?

Does anyone know?

There shouldn't be a need for in-school events, pep rallies, motivational measures, money, stress, or hoopla. Don't kids go to school to learn how to read and do math?

If they are not learning how to read and do math, there is no need for schools. Right?

Anonymous said...

11:45 - It may be generally true that reporters don't write the headlines.

Please note that this headline has single quotes around "'testing irregularities'". The single quotes mean that those are the direct words of the author (or reporter).

Sometimes we need to know the rules of grammar and punctuation so that we don't misinterpret the use of quotation marks, single or double.

The rules are to keep us from misinterpreting or making incorrect inferences.

Anonymous said...

How well does pps teach the rules of grammar and punctuation outside a journalism class?

Anonymous said...

Had to laugh about the comments under the article.
Typical teacher-bashing. Their time has come.
They even have a rich benefactor in Bill Gates.

A few years ago, a now-retired principal told me about the stress put upon him/her to "change" answers.
A year later, another principal echoed that comment.

Aw, but Eleanor would have found that out , right? She's always beating the bushes to get to the bottom of the story.

Anonymous said...

9:50 - I guess it depends on how well it was learned before becoming a teacher. The teachers known here taught it very well (never to be forgotten) in English and Journalism.

Is that no longer the situation in PPS?

Anonymous said...

December 19th 11:36AM Yes, the husband of Jodi Spolar works for the PG...this shouldn't surprise you.

Anonymous said...

When this is finally over, I hope the teachers are named instead of the schools. I'm a teacher at Arsenal and it's very common knowledge who the "cheater" was in 2009-2011. There was plenty of proof that they cheated on 4Sights, CBA's and PSSA's. For whatever reason, the principal back then didn't address it, but last year, no one tested their own students in our building! The new principal addressed that teacher and it makes me crazy that the whole school is being tainted for the actions of one!
Not too suprising for anyone that the only grade that didn't show growth in math and reading last year was the grade taught by that teacher! There were double-digit gains in the other two grades and a double-digit drop for her!
The Arsenal staff work hard and deserve recognition for our continued growth. We are finally moving the school in the right direction.
Articles like this just make the whole school look bad, which is not fair.

Anonymous said...

As a parent I do not need the name of an offending teacher, I would like to know if the offender is a veteran teacher or a newbie or if the teacher applies the fidelity we hear is so important. I imagine the stigma is hard to bear for staffers and when you factor the sad fact that often we parents only read the headline it is hard to undo the damage.

Questioner said...

Should parents be notified if their child's test had excessive wrong to right erasures so that pssa results are not reliable?

Anonymous said...

7:27 - forgive me but i must ask, fidelity to what? fidelity to programs that do not work is the biggest problem in PPS! teachers need to teach to the identified strengths and weaknesses of skills, rather than to a program that does not include all of the skills needed. from someone who knows the programs and knows the skills, it is being stated, unequivocally, that these are not acceptably aligned with one another.

so, how are teachers or students responsible for the poor results when the programs are not "faithful" to skills-alignment, nor are there REAL formative assessments to guide the teaching and learning process. these are facts not opinions from an educator who does know the meaning of the terms being used and the skills needed for success.

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh will not be successful until the teachers know what skills need to be taught. The consultants, if they know the skills, are not teaching our kids, teachers are the teachers. If teacher have neither the skills, nor the initiative, nor the time, nor the motivation to learn the skills that students need then an hour or a day with those who have been through a train-the-trainer model, which is essentially more out-of-classroom people training other out-of-classroom people to do what none of them have ever done themselves. Or following a curriculum that is also being written (by people twice-removed) as a one-size-fits-all? It is not working, people! And, that is no surprise given the process here!

Anonymous said...

Let's add one additional thought to the preceding at 8:59. It is possible that some teachers may have taken the initiative, the time, etc to learn the skills but are required to teach a curricula that is short on skills, with end-of-unit assessments that are equally short on the necessary skills, so the results are doomed to be equally lacking. Again, it is difficult to blame teacher or student in such a situation.

The solution is obvious, but out of reach, it seems, for PPS teachers and students.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Linda Lane, while it is nothing personal, you need to make this New Year's resolution for the sake of our children.

After firing French, Lippert, Otuwa, Fischetti, May-Stein and Rudiak, you need to elevate classroom teachers to the lieutenant positions in the district. Tomorrow.

You need to make it clear that only classroom teachers can move this district forward.

And right after that, you need to resign.

You and your upper levels of administration have failed this district's students horribly. Do the honorable things.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 8:46, often in my attempts to be brief I fail to be clear. Had my son's teacher been handcuffed by applying fidelity while she was teaching him the poor kid might never have learned a thing!! It was only by recognizing that he didn't get every math concept using connected/everyday that she offered old school stand-by stuff for us to do at home that gave him the tools to do math at all. I oppose fidelity that is so rigid it could prevent a kid from learing what is needed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 5:33! Nicely clarified.

When fidelity to a program/system/ method misses the essence of what it truly means to educate a child, it egregiously hurts the children as it places them in untenable positions.

Failure to recognize that one-size will never fit-all is unconscionable; and, those teachers who challenge authority and take risks by individualizing in terms of skills, content, time, culture, curricula and practice must be acknowledged, supported and applauded!

Anonymous said...

Please joing me in applauding failure to follow the rules of fideltiy.

Anonymous said...

Go to meetings where Lippert is presiding and you will be treated to the pretzel logic that goes something like, "Oh, it's not a scripted curriculum, it's a managed curriculum. Teachers can make choices based upon their own classes."

Yeah, right.

At the ELA meetings this year, English teachers were also treated to this idea that essentially shouted that it is clear that managed curriculum/forced curriculum is not working. PSSA scores prove it. Slam dunk. Game over. End of story. Judy Johnston and her IFL at Pitt? Absolute failure. Lippert's ideas to rein in teachers? Bigger failure.

But here's the kicker: try, just try, to deviate from scripted curriculum during an observation. See what happens. You will be on an improvement plan and on the road to termination so quickly that it will make your head spin.

And that my friends, is the gospel truth of PPS.

Now, you have an office of teacher effectiveness run by a woman who was also a failure as a high school principal making determinations as to who is an effective teacher. She wouldn't know one if she tripped over him. Now, the district has given so much power to that office that teachers are being observed by strangers who pop in. Hatchet man. They have no feel for the class, the kids, the teacher and his or her style. And they have the power to put teachers on improvement plans.

It's like something out of a bad horror movie.

Parents need to understand that we are in a time period when failed classroom teachers have been elevated to principal jobs via PELA. Still more failed classroom teachers are in supervisory positions. Still more have gone on to have positions of power in an insulated administration. These people answer to no one and aren't affected by budget cuts.

What you have in PPS central administration is a perfect storm of vested interests, patronage, politics, and individuals with an astounding lack of understanding where classrooms and urban students are concerned. The disconnect between central administration and the real world of teaching in PPS is other-worldly, as if the Steelers were run by a ballet company....complete with the ballet company enforcing their own outrageous mantras and philosophies which amount to drivel.

Problem is, the stakes are so much higher. This district has failed PPS students for the past 7 years and knows it. They would rather gloss things over with PR than admit the truth.

Someone above asks Lane to resign and fire her lieutenants. They talk about plugging teachers into supervisory roles. I can only agree. This alone would turn the tide. But again, I am afraid the call doesn't go far enough.

Lane, French, Lipert, Otuwa, Fischetti, Rudiak, May-Stein and others should be made to defend their actions before the board in impeachment-type proceedings. Their continued failures and refusals to change course have decimated this city. They should be made to atone.

Now that's a real resolution for taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Is that a possibility, a resolution for taxpayers? What are the real options? (Besides electing new Board members, who are very quickly inducted, trained and 'teamed' into the prevailing Broad/Lane/French/Fischetti/Lippert ORGANIZATION.)

Why is the failure of the PPS system being accepted carte blanche?

Questioner said...

Regina Holley in office over a year has not been a disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Agreed! Wholeheartedly!

But, Holley, with Brentley, are not enough. The frustration kept under control, so beautifully, is difficult to watch. They have learned to maintain professionalism at very high levels, given the inadequacy of responses to questions and the incompetence of CO in solving any of the significant, debilitating problems.

How can support be rallied for Regina Holley and Mark Brentley within a system that is, given the evidence, so controlled and so powerful and successful in maintaining that control?

Anonymous said...

As long as you have voters believing that maintaining the status quo is the way to go....and people like Fink and Colaizzi are continually voted it...then you will have the same rubber-stamping ad infinitum. Holley and Brentley will be given lip service and we'll continue to spiral downward.

Recall the last real search for a superintendent. Three candidates, two with bonafide education backgrounds. Those two are given short shrift in favor of Mark Roosevelt, whose resume is that of a career politician. (Because in Pittsburgh, we get giddy for name recognition.)

Then, we sell our collective souls to get on board with the Gates agenda.

How can things ever change. Candidates like Lisa Jones--who WAS a teacher and understands the needs of kids and families---lose by large margins.

Anonymous said...

BUT, there are more than 24,000 kids in this schools system, all of whom have adults in their lives who care about them. Right?

Doesn't that mean there are at least 20,000 adults in this city who care about whether or not their children/loved young ones are being educated?

How do we reach them and lead them into bold advocacy for their children in face of the dire futures their children will face if they do not STAND for PPS students?

Anonymous said...

As a parent in PPS If all you know is what you get you have nothing to compare it to. Many don't know their kids are being shortchanged. If you do complain nobody listens anyway. If you are tireless eventually you will get the glib response; "Mike Tomlin's kids attend PPS".

Boils down to shut up, it is good enough for you.

Anonymous said...

This never would have happened before the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/French/Lippert/Otuwa administration. It probably is not all their fault since they were put in these positions without the needed background or experience. They are probably doing the best they can and hiring as many consultants as possible to help them out. The problem is they don't know what they don't know so they can't even identify people who could solve the problems. They also don't want anyone to get too close or to get into the schools where things are not going well at all. It is most important to cover-up the real situation in the effort to keep their jobs. Kids are not the priority here, keeping their jobs is most important at any cost. So they just keep trying things one thing after the other and getting rid of anyone who states the obvious about the lack of ordinary school protocols and procedures. How long can this continue without someone putting a stop to it for the sake of the kids?

Anonymous said...

This is interesting, the same book cover and title by very different authors. I wonder why?

Is Dr. Otuwa's area knowledge as indicated in this information?

Did she write this or did the other two authors with the same title and cover?

Otuwa, Christiana
Sexual Harassment: A Profile of Sexual Harassment Cases and Their Impact on Public School District Policies

Sexual Harassment: A Profile of Sexual Harassment Cases and ...
Christiana Otuwa · 0 Reviews University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1997 ...


Gestão Democrática Da Educação:
Desafios Contemporâneos

Dalila Andrade Oliveira, Alícia Merodo Reviews
Vozes, Jan 1, 1997

This is the University that PPS gives as the place where Dr. Otuwa earned her doctorate:

School Performance/ Dr. Christiana Otuwa, Assistant Superintendent › Home › Departments › School Performance
Dr. Christiana Otuwa has worked in the educational system since 1988. She has served ... Dr. Otuwa holds a Doctorate degree from the University of Alabama.

Just GOOGLE it to check.

Anonymous said...

Once again! If there is one industry that must inherently have an ethics code, it is the education community. Simply put, each and every professional must be a model of ethics because being an inspiration or being a role model demands that one conducts himself in an exemplary way. PPS needs to hire an Ethics Professional to at least minimize the damage that we are forced to endure.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ethics? Please. Let's start with central administration, where it is apparently ok to simulate lewd acts on company time in a different city. Let's start with covering up illicit acts of abuse that involve administrators, teachers and security. Let's move on to payola and how decisions are inspired. Let's finish with moral obligations to citizens, families and children.

I wouldn't hire anyone from central administration to clean my house let alone run schools.

Anonymous said...

What is this about lewd acts? What happened where?

Anonymous said...

I posted this erroneously on another thread in reference to your question. should have been here...

I think the references to behavior of various individuals is in regards to purported tapes of people partying at various events. These references have appeared here from time to time--I think most recently when the accused officer was arrested in the Rooney case--and various instances have been discussed (whether they were real or conjecture).
I think the overall viewpoint is that everyone involved in the education industry must adhere to a personal code of conduct that includes morality and ethics in public life.