PSSA results tumble at Roosevelt Middle School after big jump in 2009

Posted: September 30, 2011

State exam scores at Roosevelt Middle School, once heralded for its huge jumps in test performance, took a tumble in 2011.

Scores on the math portion of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment were down 23 points, to 52 percent passing. Reading scores dropped 18 points, to 69 percent passing. The school did not meet the state's benchmarks for adequate yearly progress.

Over the previous two years, Roosevelt's scores skyrocketed by 52 points in math and 51 points in reading.

As The Inquirer reported, the school was investigated for testing irregularities in 2010 and 2011. Separately, flags have been raised over potential improprieties in the school's 2009 exams.

Several teachers who told The Inquirer that they had witnessed deliberate test security breaches at the school in East Germantown in the recent past said security was tighter this year after the state received a complaint in February about possible cheating at Roosevelt.

The PSSAs were administered beginning in March.

"We had more visitors," one of the teachers said Thursday. "For the first time ever, there were people in my room during the test."

Another teacher agreed. "I'm not surprised the scores are lower," the teacher said.

Roosevelt is one of 13 public schools the Philadelphia School District says bears further investigation for possible cheating on the 2009 PSSAs.

The district has not named the schools, but an Inquirer analysis has identified them, including Roosevelt. The others are: Wagner Middle School and Strawberry Mansion High, plus Catharine, Cayuga, F.S. Edmonds, Lamberton, John Marshall, Thurgood Marshall, McClure, Munoz-Marin, Olney, and Ziegler Elementaries.

Before it goes any further, the district has said it wants the results of forensic analyses of the 2010 and 2011 PSSAs, plus additional data from the state as well as assistance in completing any investigations.

Officials have not said when the 2010 and 2011 reports would be issued.

Even without those reports, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis said there was no reason to doubt the statewide numbers released Thursday.

"The number of flagged students is so minimal compared with the total number of students statewide that we are confident with respect to the overall numbers," Tomalis said in an interview.

"We believe many test scores in schools and districts that were flagged are legitimate and strong. There are other areas where we are still examining the data," he said.

Over the summer - after the 2011 PSSAs were given - the state flagged dozens of schools and districts statewide for possible 2009 testing improprieties. The forensic analysis identifying possible problems with the 2009 test was not discovered until then.

Besides Roosevelt, a few others on the list of 13 Philadelphia schools had significant score changes in 2011, results released Thursday showed.

Strawberry Mansion's scores tumbled 24 points in math and 27 points in reading. The school had a new leader in 2011 after longtime principal Lois Powell-Mondesire was promoted.

On the 2011 test scores, Lamberton, a K-8 school in the city's Overbrook Park section, posted a 19 percent increase in reading and a 22 percent jump in math.

District offices were closed Thursday for Rosh Hashanah and officials could not be reached for comment.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146,, or @newskag on Twitter. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at


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