Executive Summary of
Academic Cheating Within the PSP 144th Cadet Class
On March 16, 2016, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) requested that the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General (OIG) conduct a comprehensive investigation into allegations raised about the PSP Academy. These allegations included:
· Cheating on a particular test in the 144th Cadet class;
· Inadequacy and ineffectiveness of current training and testing; and
· Misconduct by instructors, including racist and discriminatory behavior.
Additionally, PSP asked the OIG to consider what factors may have contributed to any misconduct uncovered and make recommendations to address the findings.
The OIG’s subsequent investigation was one of the largest the agency has ever conducted in its 29-year history. Eight OIG investigators worked solely on the PSP investigation, logging about 8,160 full-time investigative work hours or 1,088 days.
The investigators completed more than 105 interviews of graduated, dismissed and resigned cadets; current and past academy staff; PSP command staff; current and former troopers and others; traveled more than 8,840 miles throughout Pennsylvania and generated more than 6,570 pages of interview transcripts and memoranda.
The OIG investigators also obtained approximately 50.91 gigabytes of data from the PSP, including cadet dismissal packets, PSP training materials, study guide examples, resignation letters, academy personnel information, 16,196 pages of interview transcripts and other information.
The OIG investigation concluded with the following findings:
§ Cadet cheating did occur.
o Cadets were disciplined for cheating and other infractions in an earlier PSP Internal Affairs Division investigation.
o Academy instructors were aware of study guides created by and shared between cadets and classes.
§ The academy created an environment that allowed the opportunity for cheating.
o Academy instructors provided cadets with answers to examinations, according to cadets, instructors and PSP investigative documents.
o The academy rarely changed questions/answers on traffic law, criminal law and final cadet examinations.
§ The academy’s Emergency Medical Response Curriculum is apparently inadequate under American Red Cross standards.
§ A May 2014 internal PSP review recommended academy educational improvements, including instructor term limits, continuing education for instructors and changes to cadet training and curriculum. A former senior academy official from that time was unable to identify any specific recommendation that was implemented.
§ Since the cheating incident, PSP has made changes (and proposed others) to academy academic processes.
§ The OIG referred to PSP – and PSP adjudicated – three incidents of potential racist, discriminatory or other problematic activity.
The OIG made the following recommendations based on the investigation’s findings:
§ The academy should institute computer-based testing with random questions. Following the implementation of this testing system, PSP should allow cadets to exchange study guides. Note: On Jan. 4, 2017, PSP reported that the Office of Administration recently approved purchase of a computer testing system.
§ Until the academy obtains and fully implements a computer-based testing system, the OIG should periodically review the academy’s examination system. Subsequently, the Systems and Process Review Division of PSP’s Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards should conduct such reviews.
§ Instructors should be prohibited from sharing exam questions and answers with cadets before tests.
§ A complete Academy Instructor Manual should be produced as soon as possible.
§ Instructors’ competence should be evaluated frequently.
§ The academy should research and use effective teaching methods from other state police academies/colleges (i.e., adult learning protocols).
§ The academy should create and use four different traffic and criminal law exams.
§ The academy should consider using essay questions on exams.
§ Revision dates should be marked on academy examinations.
§ PSP should consider investigating whether instructors violated cheating and other regulations.
§ PSP should apply a three-to-five year term limit on all academy instructors.
§ The academy should ensure the Emergency Medical Response curriculum meets American Red Cross standards.
§ Instructors should provide necessary teaching certification documents, and the academy should keep those certification documents on file.
§ Cadets should be allowed to make anonymous complaints about academy staff.