Thursday, May 29, 2008

SD of L puts lid on Wickersham Investigation

On Wednesday, NewsLanc broke the story that the Pennsylvania Department of Education received complaints in early April about the School District of Lancaster's administration of PSSA tests.

According to Mike Race, Deputy Press Secretary of the Department of Education, "Test documents were not properly secured and the test was not administered within proper guidelines."

The Department has directed the SDL to investigate the matter and report back with their findings. The State requires the District to complete their investigation within 45 days.

In 2007, the number of students at Wickersham Elementary School that scored proficient in reading dropped from 50 percent to 48.5 percent. Scoring below 50 percent resulted in the school now being on a warning status. It has not been disclosed whether the investigation is limited to scores only for 2007.

Wickersham had apparently met "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) academic targets on the PSSA in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. A banner hangs above the main entrance proclaiming the previous academic achievements. Meeting AYP requirements fall under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

In response to NewsLanc's request on Tuesday to interview Acting Superintendent Stephen Iovino, a short press release was issued to Lancaster media on Wednesday, May 28, which is posted below. The afternoon New Era covered the story in today's edition.

The SDL describes the occurence as a "personnel" matter as its reason for refusing to discuss details. This implies that one or more administrator and /or faculty member is suspected of falsifying scores for at least 2007. Despite several attempts by phone and in person, NewsLanc's reporter George Sheldon was not able to reach school principal, Dr. Bernard X. James Sr., to inquire if he is under suspicion.

Wickersham Elementary School is located just south of McCaskey High School at 401 N. Reservoir Street.