By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With stricter controls in place to limit cheating, standardized test scores in Philadelphia are dropping sharply (see previous story).

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After nine years of modest increases, Philadelphia’s performance on the state PSSA tests took a tumble last year.

Test scores were down at every grade level in Philadelphia — overall, down nine points in math (to 49%, from 58%, scoring “advanced” or “proficient”) and seven points in reading (52% to 45%).

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State education secretary Ron Tomalis says a key statewide factor is tighter monitoring last year, to prevent teachers and administrators from manipulating the answers in test booklets.

“This is the new level that we’re going to measure kids by.  Because it’s very clear from the data that we’ve seen, that it’s been elevated –artificially elevated — for the last couple of years,” Tomalis said today.

In Philadelphia, the results mean that 33 schools made “adequate yearly progress” last year, down from 110 schools the year before.

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