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Philadelphia Educators Charged for Alleged Roles in Cheating on State Tests

Five Philadelphia educators, including an elementary school principal, face multiple felony charges for their alleged role in cheating on Pennsylvania state exams over a period of five years, the state's top prosecutor announced this morning.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane outlined the charges—which include perjury, tampering with public records, forgery, and criminal conspiracy—against four teachers and one principal who worked in the Philadelphia school district. A grand jury recommended the charges after state prosecutors presented evidence of the educators' role in the cheating.

"Cheating robs children of a good education and hurts kids and families," Kane said in a press release. "The alleged misconduct by these educators is an affront to the public's trust and will not beĀ  tolerated."

Kane's office has been conducting a criminal investigation into cheating on standardized tests in several Philadelphia schools. Allegations of cheating first surfaced in 2011, prompting investigations by the state education agency, as well as the Philadelphia school district.

"The educators charged today allegedly changed student answers, provided test answers to students and improperly reviewed [state test] questions prior to administering the tests," the statement said. "According to the grand jury, after the cheating stopped in 2012, the percentage of students who scored advanced/proficient on the [state tests] dropped dramatically across all grades and subjects."

Earlier this year, district officials fired three high school principals and said more than 130 other current and former educators in the city school system faced disciplinary actions for their alleged involvement in cheating on state tests.

The criminal charges brought against the five Philadelphia educators echoes those brought against 35 educators in Atlanta, where a widespread cheating scandal there led to the indictment of retired superintendent Beverly Hall. Hall, who has pleaded innocent, was to stand trial this month, but the trial was delayed until August because she is gravely ill.

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