Prince George’s County Public Schools have increased their graduation rates faster than all other schools in Maryland. Measuring from 2013 to 2016, the graduation rate jumped from 74.1 percent to 81.4 percent.
Well . . . a fly has stuck itself into the soothing salve of their success — what county principals called an “unfair, ugly scrutiny.” Said scrutiny came from the Old Line State’s Board of Education, which voted to pursue an investigation* into what the Washington Post described as “grade tampering” to “drive up graduation rates.”
Keith Maxwell, the county schools’ CEO, says he welcomes the investigation.
Dozens of whistleblowers have reportedly come forward. Several spoke with the Post, anonymously, for fear of retaliation:
- “We knew that it wasn’t real,” said a teacher at a high graduation rate school. “It’s just common knowledge that they push kids through who shouldn’t be pushed through.”
- “I’m not averse to helping a student pass,” one educator explained. “But when people are pressuring you to do it, when it happens behind your back, that’s when it’s problematic.”
- “For a child not to come to class — maybe been in class three days in a whole quarter — and you’re going to change their grade?” questioned another teacher. “It’s not right. If they don’t come to school, and they don’t do the work, they deserve to fail.”
She added, “It doesn’t help them.”
Which is the point: the students are being cheated. If graduation doesn’t mean anything, then . . . their diplomas don’t mean anything.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
*The investigation had been requested by Governor Larry Hogan.