Quality of education lacks with grade changing

Yesterday I wrote about grade changing in an Atlanta HS. Aside from the responsibility of those involved, it brings larger perspective thoughts to mind.

group of african american university students in lecture hall

What is the quality of education that goes along with a situation that ends up with grade changing?

I know that many school personnel are preoccupied with day to day responsibilities, of which I would normally call babysitting because I have seen too many ineffective schools and teachers, but someone needs to be looking at the bigger picture.

The technical interview stories revolved around a few key issues regarding grades.

  • Even though there was  “instruction” and “packets of work” none of the substitutes actually recorded any grades
  • Ms. Martin wanted to be fair to the students who showed up and did the “packets” that they deserve some credit. Apparently it is unfair to fail students who never received adequate instruction.
  • Dr. Smith the principal points out that you can’t fail a student who was not given a fair notice of the failing grade (I guess that is what the mid semester grading period is for?)

What I would like to know is how did Ms. Martin and Dr. Smith allow 12 weeks of virtually ineffective “instruction” and “packets” in order to create a situation where no grades could be reported?

So they didn’t get instruction so you can’t fail them, not their fault, but they still need grades – nevermind that they lost 12 weeks of adequate instruction!

Then when they are making up grades the registrar brings up that all the students shouldn’t get the same grades because so were absent more than others, some did more work than others. Apparently there is or at least was a policy that when grades could not be determined all students get an 80 or 85.

No one seemed to be bothered that the students clearly did not receive any adequate education for 12 weeks.

This should also help lead to a real overhaul of substitutes and hopefully also employ some training for substitutes. In DeKalb, I couldn’t even get in as a substitute, then a year later I hear that DeKalb has classrooms without subs because no subs want the jobs.

Still, what about the student’s clear lack of quality education? No one was willing to take responsibility for that.

More Atlanta administrators fail to take responsibility – grade changing

The AJC reported on August 20, 2015 about grades that were changed at Mays High School located in SW Atlanta. This report of the investigation includes many details of the incidents and interviews with various individuals involved.

An anonymous complainant and the teacher who’s students grades were changed both reported changed grades without the teacher’s consent.

changing of history gradeThe first suspicious case involved a failing 55 grade for a student in history. As this excerpt details, all of the teacher’s records have 55 and the student even signed a paper acknowledging the 55. Yet to both of their surprise, the student magically received a 70, passing grade. The teacher’s suspicion involved “Dr. Smith” an administrator for favoring the student because he was a school football player.

The next major piece involves times when this teacher was out on medical leave, mainly a 12 week medical leave. The Academy lead was Ms. Martin and she was apparently responsible for ensuring that the multitude of substitute teachers recorded grades for the students over 12 weeks. Each of the substitutes claims they weren’t asked to record grades. At midterm time, Ms. Martin decided to give 80’s to all the students because although “there has been instruction and packets of work” there were no grades. The Registrar wouldn’t change the grades without teacher permission and they went to Dr. Smith for approval which he did. And the only thing Dr. Smith did admit to.

The Regisprincipal interview Maystrar told investigators that he keeps records of every grade change. Yet when he was audited, these specific incidents were missing. I’m willing to bet Dr. Smith is covering tracks by hiding those files and forcing the registrar to receive disciplinary action.

Dr. Smith’s interview is seemingly void of any information, and for an administrator, should have known. And I think he’s covering up.

There appeared to be CLEAR evidence that student S.M. had a grade changed, the teacher and the student matched stories on those details. Yet, because there was no “evidence” and because no one made any admissions of guilt….I guess there is nothing else to do?

 

Yes, let’s tear it down TO build something new!

This sounds like pontificating on your part…

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

A school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work?

Last post regarding Anthony Cody’s piece:

He writes:

It is perhaps a basic truth that it is easier to tear something down than to build something new. This may explain some of the trouble reformers are facing. Our schools are flawed in many ways, and do not deliver the sorts of opportunities we want all children to have access to. Racial and economic segregation, inequitable funding, and the replication of privilege are endemic — though truly addressing these issues will require change that goes far beyond the walls of our classrooms. Corporate-sponsored reformers have blamed the very institution of public education for these problems, and have set forth a set of alternatives and strategies to overcome social inequities. Here we are a decade into this project, and the alternative structures are collapsing, one by one.

We cannot pass laws that declare others “accountable” for making sure 100% of our children will be proficient and act as though we have accomplished something. It is time to go back to basic premises, and in every community, ask ourselves what we want from our schools? How can we meet the challenge of educating all our children – not leaving any behind? The answers will not come easily or cheaply. But just as a previous generation faced the challenge of the 20th century Civil Rights movement, our generation must respond.

I believe there really is not distinction between tearing something down and building something new. You have to literally, tear something down in order to build something new. As I mentioned in a former post, What is antiquated about our schools?, we need to tear them down and build new models. Sometimes even actual, physical schools need to be rebuilt. Our schools were built hundreds of years ago for the purposes of “Americanizing” immigrants. We have made tweaks, but nothing substantially has changed. We have more research now on how students actually learn everything from the methods we use (lecturing is antiquated) to the times of day that students attend school and the school year calendar.

Honestly, some of the schools I have been in feel like we are warehousing children. That is not my intention, but it’s what it feels like when as a guidance intern I spend 30 quality minutes with a student and then are forced to send him back to the 5/6 teachers who don’t care and are not helping him learn. It’s like the law requires them to be here and so they are. But who is making sure that they have the teachers they need and the curriculum they need, the school climate and discipline and encouragement they need. It’s just not happening in enough schools. So yes, Please, let tear it all down and rebuild it. You can’t really rebuild a home with a shaky foundation or rotting walls….you need to just start over.

We have been pouring more money into schools (though I know it doesn’t seem like it). One of the reasons that teachers are such a hot button topic is because that’s where the bulk of the school department money goes. I’m NOT anti teacher (regardless of how many people like John Thompson insist it is so). I’m anti the people who work in in our schools who are not doing whats in the best interest of our kids. The especially includes administration. If I hear one more administrator say “Look at the great stuff we’re doing at the department” I’m going to scream because those “things going on at the department” hardly ever fully transition into implementation at the classroom level. But Administrators can’t admit that.

We absolutely need to invest in more community resources, more wraparound programs, we need to support the community organizations that are supporting our kids, we need to have more access to early education and pre-k options, we need to have more parent engagement & involvement. But we still need the best possible teachers and administrators and too many schools don’t have that. So please, while we are tearing it down TO build something new, let’s start with a clean slate that the administrative level too.