Yesterday I wrote about grade changing in an Atlanta HS. Aside from the responsibility of those involved, it brings larger perspective thoughts to mind.
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.
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.
The 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 Registrar 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?
Great to meet New DeKalb School Superintendent Green last night at Leadership DeKalb’s event last night! 200 people RSVP’d and it was my first time at the Mary Gay House in Decatur. Only 45 days on the job and everyone seems optimistic about his potential for success.
He says all administrative staff were out in schools for the first day. This was partially in response to my desire to see Department administration cleaned out and when I mentioned that there is a big disconnect between district admin and implementation at the school level. Admin’s job is not “done” when they develop a program or curriculum. they need to see it through to the classroom.
He said that we are going to get academic achievement up one way or another (not 100% sure what the “other” way is)
When taking about cleaning house, he said he has already started and when I mentioned the nepotism, he said “if they are qualified and are doing the job” but I told him I don’t want to hear any more stories about someone’s son or daughter, cousin or whatever with a job at the school department to give them a job.
I explained my experience with substitute teachers in DeKalb. How I couldn’t get a spot as a sub when I first moved here, but that there is now a huge gap of sub opportunities not being filled.
I explained that it needs to be ok to fail, and how I knew of a situation where a school got “all hands on deck” for a state review, but was awful most of the time.
He agreed that middle school is critical to college and career readiness, and also made an interesting comment. He said he doesn’t like school counselors, that all the counselors he has met didn’t care about counseling students and they simply wanted to do admin work. I told him about how in RI you have to be a teacher for 3 years before you can be a counselor and seemed to me that the lackluster teachers just got a cushy job at the counselors office.
I’m just hoping he doesn’t mean that school counselors aren’t critical to student success when he said he would rather have hired someone else for the counselors spot. I am hoping he said that because that person was ineffective and not because he doesn’t believe in the work of school counselors.