WEST CHESTER (November 6) – State Senator Andy Dinniman today said the Corbett administration’s withholding of statewide standardized test results until the day after the election was another example of it putting politics before education and hurting students in the process.
“It wasn’t surprising that Department of Education officials were playing these sorts of games this fall, but it is troubling when one sees how obvious their motivations were,” said Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Last week, we were told that the department needed additional time – until ‘mid-November’ – to ensure the information’s accuracy. Now, suddenly 24 to 48 hours after the election we are to assume all the kinks were ironed out? That is quite a coincidence.”
The School Performance Profiles provide details on school performance and an overall academic score for each school building based on test scores, improvement of test scores and other factors. Test score account for 80 percent of the profiles. They were initially expected to be released in September. Last year, the information was released in the first week of October.
This year, school superintendents were notified that the profile information would be made available to them on the morning of November 5 (the morning after Governor Tom Corbett was defeated by Tom Wolf) and to the public on November 6.
The School Performance Profiles replace the system the Commonwealth previously used to track achievement, which was adequate yearly progress based solely on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams. In past years, district-by-district test results were released as early as June and statewide reports have usually been made available by the end of September.
“Clearly, the administration was continuing to try to hide its dismal and embarrassing record on education. It didn’t work before the election and it is not going to work now,” Dinniman said.
He also pointed out that in delaying the release of the profile information, the department deprived schools of valuable time that could have been used for student remediation and teacher development.
“The sad part is, we are already a quarter of the way through the school year. If this information was released on time, our schools would have been able to use it months ago to work to begin address some of these issues in the classroom,” Dinniman said. “After all, this information has little value if we are not going to use it to help identify the ways our students learn and improve the ways our teachers reach them.”
In addition, Dinniman said the department again fell short on a commitment to keep legislators from both sides of the aisle appraised of the release of the School Performance Profile data.
“In the past, I have actually been forced to file Right-to-Know requests to acquire basic information on standardized test development and results from the current administration. This time, department officials assured me that both the majority chair of the Senate Education Committee, and I, as minority chair, would be notified in advance of the release of the School Performance Profiles so that we could perform our committee oversight responsibilities to share the information and answer questions from other legislators,” Dinniman said. “Again, that did not happen. We were only provided with the results three hours before they were released.
“Over the last four years, I, along with other legislators, have tried to work with the department in a bipartisan manner only to be stonewalled on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, schools, students, teachers and taxpayers continued to suffer. Many of my legislative colleagues were tired of it and based on the election results it is safe to say voters were, too,” he added.