Jun 12, 2010

Inspector General Investigates DCPS High School for Grade Tampering

By the way I posted the requested video clip of Fenty under the video section above the header. Click on the video link.

I received an email which indicates that the Office of the Inspector General School is investigating allegations that a DC public high school administrative team fixed grades so that students could graduate. ( I have removed the name of the school for purposes of this story). The grade-fixing allegations were made this month by teachers at the high school in question. I think this email from a DC insider is very telling and worth sharing. Some employees feel they have to resort to 'cooking the books' just to keep their jobs under the current regime. There is a push to make the statistics look good at any cost. Grade changing is unethical, illegal and a disservice to our students. Back in the October 2009, I heard of a similar story at a DC City Council hearing in which a school counselor accused David Pinder, principal of McKinley Technology Senior High School of altering students transcripts. Other staff at McKinley also confirmed this story at the hearing. Later the Office of Inspector General became involved in this case and to my knowledge is still investigating.

I have to give 2 thumbs up to the DC teachers who decided not to look the other way and report these violations of grade tampering to the Office of the Inspector General. Here's to you !

The Washington Teacher

Hey Candi,

"Some of the teachers at a DC public high school called the DC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and reported they have failed students only to find the grades were changed by the school's administrative team later. The OIG called the principal yesterday and told her they want to conduct an investigation and see her books which is why she was seen crying by some of the staff. The bldg. rep. held a union meeting this morning and laid into the teachers who called the OIG rather than coming to her first so she could schedule a proper meeting between them and the principal. She basically called the teachers a 'bunch of cowards for going outside the building' by calling the OIG and she said thats why Chad Ferguson wants to fire the whole bunch of them!! Wow, what a way to boost morale, loyalty and support from the teachers!! Next the building rep said that the teachers cannot fail students based on poor attendance alone according to the DCMR. I know that the DCPS attendance policy states that if a students misses so many days of school they can fail a class.

Since I was not familiar with the DC Municipal Regulations, I did as you suggested and looked up the code for attendance in the DCMR and it says the same thing as DCPS attendance policy; that a student shall receive an F if they have 10 unexcused absences during an advisory and they shall receive an F for the course if they have 30 unexcused absences. There is nothing different between DCMR and DCPS attendance policy so I don't know why the building rep. would tell teachers that they cannot fail a student based on attendance alone when its in writing that they can!!

Besides, the teachers didn't just fail their students based on poor attendance alone; they failed them because they didn't do their class work, missed tests, quizzes, book reports, and did not turn in research projects. Even when given a work packet to make up for all the work they missed during the semester/school year many students still didn't complete it. The principal did not like this because it makes her graduation and promotion numbers look very bad. What ever happened to the Chancellor's standard for more rigor in the classroom? How is giving a work packet at the end of the class to a no-show student just as rigorous as attending school regularly and doing all the required work for a passing grade? Sounds like a double standard to me. If that's the case teachers should just pass students regardless of attendance, quality and accuracy of work if the principal is just going to change their grades from fail to pass anyway."



Anonymous said...

Not just grade tampering, but test score tampering, too:


Read the article and you'll see this is not just happening in DC.

So much for pay for performance. This is what happens when you tie performance and job security to grades/test scores. Whatever happened to real, organic teaching done to make students well-rounded citizens of the world and not robots programmed to spit out answers to a test?!

Anonymous said...

At my unnamed school during DCCAS, I know teachers in the testing grades were doing something they weren't supposed to do. And I don't blame them. I know they were walking around while the kids were taking the test and saying stuff like "Look at number 17 again carefully". Of course, the kids knew that meant number 17 was wrong and they should pick another answer. I'm sure it gets worse. But with 50% of those teachers' evaluations based on test scores... and no monitor in the room...

Anonymous said...

I see Rheeform is alive and well. As folk boost about the graduation rate at the newly reformed Anacostia, I strongly suggest that a real close look at the practices there regarding llth graders promoted to senior status and allowed to graduate and other irregularities reported by some members of that staff.

Principals are also requiring teachers to produce back up documentation, phone logs, Stars notes, sending letters to parents 10 days before failing a student, etc. to justify changing grades. New and illegal rules are applied to pressure teachers into passing students who have failed. This tactic was used at Dunbar and other schools.

Anonymous said...

sounds like my DC public high school, but I don't think it is, which makes it worse, doesn't it?

Props to the teacher who brought this investigation forward, and let this be another call for the rest of the DCPS teachers who SEE the truth of what is going on here. We ALL must tell these stories, over and over, to whoever will listen. WE are the voice for our students until we teach them to find their own. If we stick together, teachers and students, we will be strong enough to fight back against those who are trying to destroy (i.e. "reform" or "turnaround") public schools. We are stronger than Michelle Rhee (or whoever comes after her).

Anonymous said...

Michelle Rhee is a DC government worker, plain and simple. My tax dollars pay the salary of this ineffective failure and poor excuse for a leader of a public school system. If any teacher or principal who changed grades of a failing student, needs to know two things. Michelle Rhee is Not going to save your job,and you might as well kiss your butt good-bye.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous (5:32pm), we need to make students well-rounded global citizens and this will not happen by "Teaching to the Test."
What's worse is that IMPACT creates more pressure, especially onto those teachers in Group 1 where 50% of their scores are based on high-stakes tests, such as the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment Systems (DCCAS).
I've actually resigned from my position last year as a high school language teacher, when I didn't follow-through with my principal's orders. First, he asked me to create a "make-up packet." Which I thought was crazy (for a lack of better words). I don't know how a "packet" can make-up for: 180 days of classwork, labs, discussions, projects, homework and in-class participation?! Second, after I consulted with my department chair, other teachers within my department, and my former professors at a local university about creating this "packet," the student never completed it. It should be safe to assume that if a student has a 53% attendance rate, he or she would complete a packet to pass, but that was not the case. Next, I was told to tutor the student one-on-one and assist her on finishing this packet (during after school hours), but she only attended ONE of those sessions. My principal wanted her to pass this class so she will graduate, but I told him it was not possible given the circumstances. I ended up resigning from my position before graduation because the principal was making my life miserable,lowering the morale of my colleagues who were in similar situations, and for other personal reasons (moving out of the District). I found out later that my student walked across the stage with a diploma, but I know she was not able to demonstrate any knowledge of the course/content given that colleagues said that she failed their classess too. It's unfortunate that leaders are short-changing our youth and lowering expectations...for what? Higher pay or pay performance? That's just crazy!?

Anonymous said...

The group 1 teachers are screwed. What would you do to keep your job? REALLY what would you do? Once the cheating starts it will make it nearly impossible for the next teacher to show growth unless they cheat too!! Who will benefit from this IMPACT Eval? NOT our students. Scores will rise but will students know more? The mayor and Rhee can boost the scores up but are they REALLY?

Anonymous said...

The building rep at the unnamed school is an example of current building reps all over the city.

Most are in bed with the school's administrators and will do anything to protect their positions. Most are working under very favorable conditions.

PS is this the same school where the Instructional Coordinator is creating work packets for students in order to pass? It seems to be. What is with these "work packets"?

This is a SHAME. If this principal is not removed it will be because she is a RHEE FLUNKIE and obviously so is the building rep.

Anonymous said...

I read the article in the NYT. Maybe the SEO should hire the firm who conducted the investigations in the stated mentioned. Maybe this company can determine if cheating has/is occurring in DCPS. Let this company go back a few years to review the past test document to see what they find.

Cheating is not only happening in the high schools, but also at the middle and elementary levels. Ask so of the soon to be assistant superintendents.

Regardless, this practice is unfair to students.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon 2:10, for expressing the way I feel these days.

I'm a Group 1 teacher. I don't cheat. I refuse to shortchange my students by emphasizing test prep over the content and skills they need to do well next year.

But I do feel that Group 1 teachers are being sacrificed while the other 80% are likely to reap the rewards that are built into the new contract.

I'm not hearing a lot of empathy or understanding in these blogs about the plight of Group 1 teachers.

Perhaps that was the plan all along.

Anonymous said...

The work packets for high school students, that some bloggers are discussing, is also given to elementary school children, too. Our principal all but threatened to lower our Impact scores if we did not volunteer to tutor one or two students. Many teachers were not happy with this so-called volunteer tutoring. Our school had a Saturday Academy program that tutors children before the DCCAS. This Saturday Academy was not for students who were on the verge of failing in their subjects, but was for students who were proficient and advanced. The lower performing students were not even considered for the Saturday Academy. Our students are no more than pawns in the Rheeform movement.

Anonymous said...

I have confusion on how this will now effect our evaluation system. I know teachers in my school have altered their grades so they will not lose points on the IMPACT system. The principal passing students to increase their graduation rate is just as unethical as teachers manipulating their data and grades so they are more likely to achieve the pay incentive.

Similarly if a student does not attend class, or if you are a high school teacher who is teaching the freshman bulge of repeaters, you must fail them. As a result your data is skewed because if 10% of your class is a no show (which is common in DC) then you loose points in IMPACT evaluation.

What can we do in this system? Is the teacher's union putting anything into place to prevent teachers from being unfairly penalized for teaching the repeaters and special education students?

edharris said...

Miss Rhee is promoting herself nationally. (Maybe that's why she hired Miss Dunn)
From the NY Daily News Sunday:
In no other industry or business would decisions be made about employment based only on years of service and not effectiveness. It's time to use common sense.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9:58
In response to your question what can the union do to prevent teachers from being unfairly penalized.....?, there is nothing to prevent teachers from being penalized. Parker always states there is nothing we can do about the teacher evaluation. I guess thats why we did the survey. For now I think you may be on your own.

efavorite said...

Is this what's it's coming to? Rhee's cheating is causing principals to cheat and teachers (some at least) to cover to keep their jobs?

Pardon me for saying it again, but how does this help the kids?

Bravo to those teachers who spoke out. Let's see what happens to them now.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the position of the DCPS and the union and common sense of the people all say: teachers who alter the test scores should be immediately terminated? (No excuses)

Separately, but equally, principals who alter scores or supress them to boost graduations should be terminated as well? (No excuses)

Does this make sense, ladies and gents?

Anonymous said...

I am at a school and I will admit that I gave grades this semester because it is "understood" that a certain number of students must pass. There were students that seldom attended that received passing grades (D) because the administration gave a list of students who would be retained. If a student was not on this list, they have to pass the class. Grade inflation is very much a real problem and the explanations gave by teachers was I don't want to lose my job regardless of the documentations etc. I am not proud of what I did which is why I am desperately trying to get out DCPS.. I have compromised and allowed my integrity to be compromised that I can no longer feel good about myself or the job I do.

Anonymous said...

Any confirmation on the IMPACT workshop that is scheduled for teachers this week? Understand the final scores are being calculated etc. and principals are required to share PD with teachers and staff this week.

Is there any truth that the DC_CAS scores will be back next week?

Anonymous said...

lol we should start a pool "I Bet it's my School" and see just how many teachers believe that the unnamed school is theirs. Shoot I'd put money on it that it's mine lol

I also heard teachers got firing letters this Friday telling them they were excessed

Anonymous said...

If Rhee reinstates the High School Principals who have been tampering with students' transcripts, the Inspector General needs to fire the identifed principals in Ward 5.

Anonymous said...

The same thing is happening at Eastern SHS. Where a student whom played sports failed three classes and was able to graduate. The principal asked several teachers to change the students grade.These administrators don't realize it but they are hurting these kids not helping them.

The teachers that were fired were not fired because of classroom performances. They were fired because the principal didn't like them for personal reasons

Anonymous said...

Read the article in the NYT concerning Rhee.


I guess she is trying to be the chancellor of NY. Then Sacramento. That is it, she wants to run all public schools across the country. She is setting up shop just as she did the Teacher Project.

Watch out Arne Duncan, she wants your job. President Obama, don't do it. You know the saying "because it looks good doesn't mean its good for you." She is not a good choice regardless what she says or puts on paper.

Anonymous said...

Michelle Rhee is an underhanded charlatan and DCPS is still a joke because of her. The union is powerless and can do nothing. George parker is a joke as well. The new contract is a death certificate

Anonymous said...

Rhee Rheeform is Bad for DCPS students, teachers, and other citizens in this great city.
In DCPS, changing grades has been the practice and common thing since Chancellor Michelle Rhee came to DCPS. Administrators fixed grades at Ballou High School when Ms. Karen Smith was the principal, and continue today during Mr. Rhaman Branch, the current principal at Ballou High School. The fact is that, you have to cooperate with them to change any student's grade or you will be on their hit list. They cooked DCCAS, End of the year tests and other tests just to make their job look good and continue to render disservice to our students and the District of Columbia. If a teacher refused to change or cook grade(s), they can be rated poorly, RIF'D or set up for harrassment by students. Rhee and Fenty are not the solution for our city because they continue to set the District of Columbia back.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

As a retired teacher I have one bit of very good advice for teachers:

You do not give up your rights as American citizens when you become teachers. ALWAYS go outside the schoolhouse door when a crime is committed. File complaints with the police, social services, the city, state and local governments. This will give you the power that you need to fight the corruption in the school district. It will also protect you to some extent because it is against federal laws to harass a teacher who makes a valid complaint with the proper authorities. Most of all, it will put the fear in the administrator who has tried to put the fear in you.

Congrats to the teachers who had the courage to complain about the grade tampering.

Anonymous said...

Candi, just read on the DCPS website that several schools including Garfield are going to be reconstituted. Isn't that one of your schools? Please comment about this and you don't have to post this. I don't know if you've mentioned the school(s) where you work, but your insight on this is always valuable.

Kingston6 said...


Davis Elementary School

Garfield Elementary School

Hamilton Center

Stanton Elementary School

Ballou Senior High School

Luke C. Moore Academy

So if I am interpreting this info correctly...teachers at these schools have to reapply for their jobs?

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I need to make a comment.

Five years ago, when I emailed principals and teachers, I got NO response. NOTHING. Teachers were in their cars and on the road at 3:31 every day, unless they taught aftercare. I tried calling the central office, and that was a joke. I took my kids out and put them in charter schools.

Today, my youngest is in 1st grade, at our neighborhood school. Teachers and other school staff are responsive to emails. It is obvious that the principal cares DEEPLY about involving parents and educating children.

I understand that some veteran teachers do not like anything Rhee says or does. But as a parent, I can tell you that Rhee has changed my child's life. The entire culture of the schools has changed for the better.

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous @ 12:38

I was not at Garfield this school year. Schools that will be reconstituted - the staff will have to reapply.

Anonymous said...

I have been told that if the administrators have not been terminated to date, they do not have to reapply for their jobs but all other personnel do.

Take Hamilton Center for example, this principal is a nightmare for students, parents and teachers but again it is the teachers fault.

Also, Luke C Moore principal is in deep do do but Rhee and Wilholt will cover her behind because she is one of their new rising stars.

I guess the building rep AT THE UNNAMED SCHOOL knew what she was talking about when mentioning Chad Ferguson wants to fire teachers. Proof she is in bed with the administrators and will be returning to the school. What a shame.



EFavorite said...

I wonder about the anon parent at 2:09.

It's possible that the new principal may be more responsive, why credit Rhee with this?

There's no indication that it has anything to do with the Rhee administration - or with Rhee.

It seems very strange and over-the-top to say "Rhee has changed my child's life." Especially about a first grader!

Also, why would a parent send another of her children to DCPS after her horrible experience?

Why not put her youngest in a charter school too? Why take a chance?

This doesn't ring true to me.

Anonymous said...

ANON 2:09 at is a Rhee plant.

Anonymous said...

June 15, 2010 2:09 AM:

Five years ago many teachers did not have regular access to e-mail or e-mail accounts.

With the Modernization Bill that was passed by the City Council when Janey was superintendent, millions of dollars were made available to renovate schools which included $$ to equip schools and classrooms with the Internet. You should not just assume it is Rhee's magnificent leadership.

And please stop with the stereotypes of teachers who left at 3:31 back then. Yes I am sure that happened but guess what? Staff morale is so low in DCPS now that many more people leave earlier to save their sanity.

Anonymous said...

IT IS TIME FOR TEACHERS TO RISE UP!!! But we won't, the vets are hoping for early retirement and the younger teachers know they will not be in the system long, just long enough to get their student loans paid off. The only teachers that really care and are vested are the ones that have 10 - 18 years. The culture is rif them out, impact them out and now reconstitute them out; either way RHEE wants the population of teachers to change.

All of the 10-15 year teachers at my school have been targeted this year by our new riding in on a "white" horse know it all principal. This lady has alerted her counterparts of the date of their observations and given them scores based well beyond the 30 minute observation. These young whipersnappers CANNOT teach...evident by student achievement this year but the principal continues to pad their impact scores so they will be okay while the more experienced teachers are getting lied on and lied to during their impact and the union can/will do nothing to help them.

Anonymous said...

Why does Anon. at 10:50 charge that Anon. at 2:09 is a Rhee plant? Because the view stands out on this blog? Some people might think the view is plausible, and quite possibly valid. Are any posts on this blog validated? There are an awful lot of accusations, and they are almost always without any public source.

I think Candi has her eyes open and tries to include as much diversity of views as she can, and I thank her for that.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 2:09,

Maybe you are truly a parent and you are speaking of your personal experience with DCPS. If so, I am glad that you have such a glowing opinion of Rhee-form but I must also share a personal experience with you through the eyes of a child.

I know a third grader who attends an open spaced school and was having academic problems. The teacher was sure that he had ADHD and possibly a learning disability as well.

Formal testing found that he was of average cognitive functioning and academic functioning. In addition, significant attention problems were not found. Well, the question was posed...Why is the student having trouble in class if he tested "average"?

Upon further investigation it was found that this student was placed in a 3/4 combination classroom because his 3rd grade teacher was RIF'd back in October with no replacement. His new teacher is a good one but she is overwhelmed with her larger than average class size and the fact that she is responsible for teaching 3rd and 4th grade standards...WITH NO ASSISTANT!!! So how does firing teachers under the malicious lie of a RIF, and not replacing them equal good reform? It does not. It equals bad rhee-form!

This child was almost retained or put in special education based on the despicable plan of Ms. Rhee!

This child cannot speak for himself. All he knows is that he lost a teacher he liked and is now in an overcrowded classroom with a teacher who is trying to DO IT ALL!!!

Anon 2:09, you might say "Well this is probably a school in SE". Well this happened in the upper part of NW. So Rhee-form is pervasive!

So don't believe the hype! Rhee-form may have worked for you but it is harming hundreds of other children who deserve BETTER!

DCPS children deserve a competent school leader who is EXPERIENCED, CREDENTIALED and CARING! Ms. Rhee is neither of those and she is harming our children!

Anonymous said...

Just talk and talk will materialize to nothing. We know all the evil plans and acts of Rhee but we cannot just continue to talk and talk without any action. Rhee was given all the power by Fenty and the councilmembers but she continue to mess up. Now its too late for the council members to take the power back. The only option is to run Fenty and Rhee out of D.C. because they have done enough damage to the District of Columbia. Organize, Organize and Organize all races (young and old)in a big way to run them out of the city because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.