Home > Uncategorized > Another DC Miracle Debunked: 1/3 of DC Graduates Did Not Meet Standard

Another DC Miracle Debunked: 1/3 of DC Graduates Did Not Meet Standard

January 30, 2018

WAMU in Washington DC provided a report on Washington DC public schools touting a miraculous turnaround in the percentage of students who graduated from high school… a miraculous turnaround that now seems to be the result of faulty reporting on the part of administrators and teachers. Multiple media outlets yesterday, including WAMU, reported on a recent audit conducted by by consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal which found that

…attendance policies were rarely followed and credit recovery programs, which allow students to retake courses they’ve failed, were misused at most DCPS high schools. Some students were allowed to pass courses even though they missed a majority of the class.

WAMU, after it’s initial report on the miraculous turnaround at one specific school, heard from hundreds of DC teachers who suggested that the miracle they touted was the result of tinkering at the main offices in the school district. WAMU then conducted its own investigation of one school and found that was true. Alvarez and Marshal was hired by the mayor’s office to determine if the failure to keep track of student records was limited to one school or was systemic. The results were embarrassing, to say the least.

The report pointed to a culture of passing and graduating students that had become the norm, even if it conflicted with academic standards and integrity.  It cites aggressive graduation goals, a burdensome amount of documentation required to fail a student, and empathy for students with serious needs as pressures that contributed to that culture. Finally, it found that a lack of support from the DCPS Central Office contributed to many of the system-wide policy violations. Training, communication and system monitoring were all considered inadequate.

Bowser blamed much of the failure on the district’s attempt to clarify and implement its grading policy a few years ago.

What DCPS failed to do was put together the training and controls and accountability necessary to make that a successful rollout,” Bowser said.

But what the report DIDN’T note was that as of February 2016, 45% of the DC students were enrolled in charter schools… and the fact that these charter schools were “successful” was a feather in the cap of the mayor, the Superintendent… and the “reformers” who often cited and lionized the leadership in DC schools. But the headlines trumpeting the successes of DC public schools always mention this fact… the stories that undercut the successes, well here are the headlines referenced in my Google Feed:

Third of DCPS High School Graduates Shouldn’t Have Graduated Last Year: Review

Attendance, credit violations by graduates at all but 2 DC high schools, report finds

Any mention that 45% of these schools were charter schools? And while the stories all talked about PRINCIPALS who were put on leave, none of them cited the Superintendent, the person who, in the words of the Mayor, “failed to… put together the training and controls and accountability necessary to make that a successful rollout” AND one of the leaders the NYTimes recently touted as an ideal candidate to lead the NYC schools. When schools “succeed” beyond expectations their “charter” pedigree is highlighted. When they engage in dishonesty, that pedigree vanishes… and the public schools are effectively smeared. The shame is that this mis-reporting by the media doesn’t garner the same headlines as the mis-reporting of the Principals.

 

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