Baltimore City Schools trying to move past 'grade-fixing' scandal that rankled teachers, parents – Fox News

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Long Island academic joins ‘The Story’ to sound off on how giving undeserving kids high marks is endangering the US.
Baltimore City Public Schools are changing grading policies that appeared to become a breeding ground for grade-changing schemes and sparked a controversy that headed to the legal realm earlier this year.
Allegations against the schools that administrators changed students’ failing grades to passing ones sparked complaints from teachers and parents alike.
“My son is really in desperate need of tutoring in math,” Baltimore City parent Gregory Gray said during the early stages of FOX 45’s investigation in 2017, according to the outlet. “How did my son pass if he didn’t know none of this math? They pass them; they just passed them along.”
The outlet says it also obtained emails from the district detailing pushes for teachers to round up grades, so failing students could pass.
Front of school building in the morning. (iStock)
A Maryland Inspector General for Education report found that between 2016 and 2020, Baltimore City Public Schools changed over 12,000 failing grades to passing ones.
Despite previous efforts to change the district’s grading policies to one that more accurately reflects the grades students earn, the report found the practices still continued after a 2019 policy change.
The district implemented multiple changes at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, including “clarifying [grade] rounding processes” and “implementing checks and balances so that no single school staff person is solely responsible for any aspect of the grading entry or review process,” among other measures, according to a July report from the district.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (AP )
“Equity means equal outcomes regardless of effort or ability,” former Princeton and Vanderbilt professor Dr. Carol Swain told Fox News Digital. “Grade fixing is the ultimate form of equity in action. 
“Handing out grades like candy on Halloween is an easy paycheck for educators running a system that operates much like a factory conveyor belt where the main objective is to indoctrinate while methodically moving bodies through the system.
“The tragic outcome is that many of the graduates will never know their own potential because instead of an education they will have been rewarded with an empty piece of paper that places them on a path to what could become a lifetime of underachievement.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R., criticized the district for its “clear moral failing” in a June press release detailing the issue and his referral to the Maryland State Prosecutor and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland for an investigation.
“In its final report, the Inspector General confirmed the existence of a massive grade-fixing scheme in Baltimore City Public Schools, documenting thousands of instances of wrongdoing and systemic problems. The report reveals a staggering level of disregard for the integrity of the educational system and a clear lack of accountability at the highest levels. For years, the school system has denied and dismissed allegations of grade fixing, and tried to sweep it all under the rug. None of this should be allowed to happen in any school system, let alone in one of the most highly funded large school systems in America. All involved in this culture of corruption must be held accountable,” Hogan said in the press release.
“After a thorough review of the Inspector General’s findings, I am immediately directing the Maryland State Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any alleged criminal malfeasance that may have occurred…
“Given that in addition to substantial investments of state tax dollars, the school system receives federal funding on an annual basis, I am also referring this matter to the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland to investigate and, where appropriate, bring federal criminal charges against those who perpetrated this fraud and abuse,” he added.
Grading problems, particularly brought on by changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, caused controversy with parents and teachers who felt as if children were being rewarded without effort.
“Regarding the current grade formula change, it simply means that any student with a 59.5 will get a 60, thus meeting the pitiful low standards that continue to be prevalent in the Baltimore City Public School System,” Blanca Tapahuasco, a parent affiliated with Baltimore City Schools, told Fox News Digital.
“Grade changing only gives schools a cover-up to make themselves look good,” she later added.
Ashley Jacobs, executive director and co-founder of Parents Unite, had similar misgivings with the grade fixing scandal and any school policies that would reward a “free pass” to a student.
“What is the purpose of school?” Jacobs told Fox News Digital. “Is it simply to move children along to the next grade regardless of whether they have mastered relevant concepts? We are failing students if we don’t collectively raise our expectations around schooling. Grades are a measurement tool to evaluate ‘progress.’ Progress doesn’t happen without expending effort, and it is not always easy or fun.”
In Washington, D.C., a “no-zero” policy, aimed at preventing students’ grades from falling too low, wreaked havoc on schools by encouraging students to show up to class to be counted present just to receive a 50 percent on their assignments before they left.
“Essentially, with the 50 percent grading rule, if our students completed one or two assignments, they would pass — and they knew it,” an anonymous teacher said, according to Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews.
Other teachers have complained about the policy in other areas, claiming lax grading policies remove the incentive for discipline and hard work, including Chalkboard Review editor-in-chief and English teacher Daniel Buck, who told Fox News Digital in August that the A-F scale “provides both carrots (good grades) and sticks (zeros).” 
“The current incentive structure in schools should be scrutinized to ensure that each child is given the opportunity to reach his/her potential,” Jacobs said. “This cannot happen without assessment that is aligned with what children must learn to be legitimately promoted to the next level. Children are not being properly prepared for adulthood if they are given a free ‘pass.’”
“Students deserve better,” she concluded.
Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this report.
Taylor Penley is a production assistant with Fox News.
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2022 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.


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