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2 more Philly teachers face charges in cheating scandal
Ripples from Atlanta continue to reverberate as the debate over high-stakes testing rages on. - photo by Eric Schulzke
As the Atlanta testing scandal earlier this year made clear, when schools and teachers are placed under heavy pressure to perform on standardized tests, some will crack and resort to cheating as a way out. In the Atlanta case, 11 educators earlier this year were convicted for cheating to systematically improve the test scores of their students.

Philadelphia now has a very similar case as two more educators have been disciplined in a cheating scandal there, bringing the total to 12 disciplined and eight facing criminal charges, as reported by The Notebook, a Philadelphia education blog.

Some have tied the scandals to persistent pressure on teachers and administrators to produce standardized test scores.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelson Garcia calls this "test and punish," and argues that it is destroying the teaching profession while doing nothing for children. And teachers aren't the only ones pushing back against the high-stakes testing. As the Deseret News reported earlier this year, frustrated parents have led opt-out movements from New York to Florida.

People know that the test scores are flawed for a variety of reasons and that they cannot be relied on as the sole or primary factor to make high-stakes decisions, Robert A. Schaeffer, the public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, told the New York Times.

As The Notebook points out, back in 2006 the pressure on Philadelphia principals ratcheted up when a housecleaning took place in which principals were fired and new ones hired with a charge to increase test scores.

Philly schools chief Paul Vallas "contended that schools with persistently low test scores and other lagging factors need change, and that the person at the top must be the one held accountable," the Philadelphia Inquirer noted at the time.

"If the Phillies don't win, you're not going to fire the team. You're going to fire the manager or you're going to transfer the manager," Vallas said, noting that the seven principals being removed will be given leadership jobs elsewhere in the district.

"When there's persistent failure, you've got to look to the leadership."