In recent times, we have covered a grade-rigging scandal in Baltimore, Maryland that is worth paying attention to. Baltimore City Schools could be on the verge of gaining national attention, as the prime example of America’s broken education system.
Project Baltimore, an investigative reporting initiative, by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc, the largest U.S. broadcaster, has led the charge via lead investigator Chris Papst in uncovering evidence, which suggests Baltimore City school officials are running a grade manipulation scheme in the public school system.
In a report from August, Chris Papst’s team uncovered documents suggesting one school in Baltimore has the highest graduation rate in the area with zero students proficient in math. Throughout 2017, Project Baltimore has made the case with evidence—- grade manipulation is widespread.
Evolution of Project Baltimore’s evidence:
Back in May, Chris Papst’s team found “6 Baltimore schools, no students proficient in state tests”
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) May 18, 2017
Project Baltimore uncovers serious grade changing allegations at Baltimore City H.S
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) August 3, 2017
Baltimore City Schools panic—> launches internal investigation on grade-rigging
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) August 8, 2017
How can a high school with zero students proficient in math have the highest graduation rate?
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) August 10, 2017
Balt. City Teacher tells Project Baltimore: “We have graduated kids who can’t read the diploma”
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) August 31, 2017
Investigation into grade manipulation expands in city schools
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) September 28, 2017
Balt. School Administrator tells Project Baltimore 70% of City Schools change grades.
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) October 5, 2017
Baltimore City Schools #1 in America in Admin. costs says Project Baltimore
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) October 10, 2017
Project Baltimore: Text Message Instructs City Teachers to Change Grades
PROJECT BALTIMORE:Text Message Instructs City Teachers to Change Grades https://t.co/pvSWlnTtG6
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) October 19, 2017
Now the Governor of Maryland responds to the grade manipulation scandal in Baltimore
— Chris Papst (@chrispapst) October 24, 2017
As Project Baltimore’s evidence builds, City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises finally responds on allegations of grade rigging…
Per Project Baltimore,
In the memo, Dr. Santelises says grade changing does a “deep disservice to our students.”
She then outlined corrective steps the District has taken. In addition to launching internal investigations into two city schools, the central grading system is being analyzed, school leaders were issued grading guidelines and mandatory training has been ordered for those who input grades. Santelises concludes by calling our investigations “disheartening”.
She ends on a positive note saying, “I know that every day there are countless positive stories of learning, leadership, and professionalism unfolding in our schools.”
As we finalize first-quarter progress reports for distribution to students and families, many of you are no doubt concerned by recent news reports alleging widespread grade-changing in past reporting periods. I am concerned, too, and I want you to know that we are taking the reports very seriously. In August, we began an analysis of grade data held in our central systems. We have also provided school leaders with detailed guidance on required practices and processes regarding grade-changing and have instituted mandatory training for grade reporters.
Our responsibility to uphold the highest standards of professional integrity includes ensuring the accuracy of reporting on student achievement. Anything less undermines our professionalism and, more important, does a deep disservice to our students. Of course, there are legitimate reasons for changing grades—inadvertent omission of a grade on an assignment, late submission of make-up work, simple typographical errors that need to be corrected. But it is imperative that teachers take the utmost care in entering grades, and that all staff involved in grade reporting follow established procedures for reviewing and finalizing grades.
If you have questions about grading policies, please speak with your school leader or contact the Academics Office at 410-396-8810. I also encourage any staff member with knowledge or suspicion of improper or unethical behavior to report it, so that it can be investigated appropriately. Reports, which can be anonymous, can be submitted online or by calling 1-800-679-0185.
Both the seriousness of this issue and the sensational tone of the news reporting about it are disheartening. But I know that every day there are countless positive stories of learning, leadership, and professionalism unfolding in our schools.
I encourage you to keep those stories in mind and to share them with your colleagues, school communities, and social networks as a daily reminder of the important work that City Schools students, teachers, and staff are accomplishing together.
Sincerely, Sonja Brookins Santelises. Chief Executive Officer