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Two Philadelphia School Principals Lose Credentials In Wake of Test Cheating Scandal

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- We're seeing the first Philadelphia fallout from a state investigation into cheating on standardized tests in the Philadelphia school district.

Two Philadelphia principals have surrendered their administrative credentials amid the state investigation into test cheating.  These are the first heads to roll in an investigation of 53 Philadelphia schools that has been going on for more than a year.

Barbara McCreery, the former principal at Communications Tech High School, and Lola Marie O'Rourke, who used to be the principal at Locke Elementary School, have both given up their credentials "in lieu of disciplinary action" from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Both lost their administrative credentials but were allowed to retain their teaching credentials.

The move follows an investigation into allegations that students were coached and answers were changed in state PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) test booklets.

"These two individuals, there was allegations of violating the integrity and security of the PSSA by erasing and changing student answers, creating answer keys, and manipulating student test data," says state education department spokesman Tim Eller.

Eller would not comment on whether any more Philadelphia principals would face any possible sanctions because of the cheating scandal.

Robert McGrogan, the head of the principals' union, says he advised the principals during investigative conferences although his union was not directly involved in these actions.

"The highest level of sanction for any employee would be to have their credentials revoked for life, so certainly the state, which issues licenses, has the authority take them away," McGrogan notes.  "And any licensed employee certainly would have the right to challenge them by securing counsel and contesting whatever charges are brought against them."

Stricter testing controls were put into place in Philadelphia last year (see related story), and test scores immediately plummeted (another related story).

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