- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The official audit for D.C. Public Schools: All but two of 19 DCPS high schools violated policies that led to seniors receiving diplomas they had not earned.

Put another way, 937 of 2,758 grads had excessive absences and were ineligible for diplomas, or were ineligible or improperly credited for makeup classes, or took those classes concurrently with regular courses.

Looking at the problem a third way: 1-in-3 students who graduated in June 2017 were not supposed to.

The audit, conducted by Alvarez & Marsal and released Monday, was solicited by the city after NPR and WAMU Radio revealed in a joint investigation that senior at Ballou High School who were chronically absent had received diplomas. City officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, had bragged about the substantial rise in the graduation rate and the fact that nearly every single grad had applied to college.



Here, however, is the damning bottom line from the audit: “DCPS teachers and school leaders are subject to a variety of institutional and administrative pressures which have contributed to a culture in which passing and graduating students is expected, sometimes in contradiction to standards of academic rigor and integrity.”

The honchos at the DCPS Central Office also were cited for their lax oversight, and that’s alarming, too.

For its part, the Washington Teachers Union, which represents 5,000 active and retired teachers, surveyed members and found that 93 percent of teachers at Dunbar High felt “pressure” from DCPS administration to pass undeserving students and/or change students’ attendance records.

Dunbar’s principal has been placed on leave and Ballou’s principal at was fired, though neither action will change the institutional culture of the problem.

The only two high schools where teachers and administrators weren’t cheating and mimicking their DCPS counterparts were Benjamin Banneker and School Without Walls, and they could be models for DCPS’ next steps because both, as magnet schools, focus on teaching and learning rather than the bureaucratic rigamarole of central administration.

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s own words cut to the chase: “Taking it all in all and after all, Negro life in Washington is a promise rather than a fulfillment. But it is worthy of note for the really excellent things which are promised.”

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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