With ink on Regents Exams still wet Chancellor Klein announced 70% graduation rates in the 2007 small high school graduating cohort. The New York Times reported on the press conference pointing out the lower percentage of English Language Learners (aka ESL) and Special Education students in the graduating classes.
With cohorts of less than a hundred students, substantial grants from the Gates Foundation and “coaching/mentoring” from the intermediary organizations that the support the schools (i.e., New Visions for Public Schools, the Urban Assembly, International Partnership Foundation, etc.) one would hope that the schools are doing well. Whether these gains can be sustained when the grants and the intermediary organizations are no longer connected to the schools is the key question.
Unfortunately in his rush to herald success the Department is encouraging practices that require close scrutiny.
One of these practices is called “credit recovery.”
Let’s say a kid passes the first two unit tests and fails the next three tests, rather than failing the student the teacher gives the student an “incomplete.” In the summer the student takes a “unique” course: he completes a project that incorporates the three topics that he failed. The project is deemed satisfactory and the “incomplete” is changed to a passing grade.
This may be a totally satisfactory way to complete a course, and it may not. The School Progress Report “grades” schools on a metric – a key is credit accumulation – and the school “grade” is directly tied to the principal’s rating. In Empowerment the Network Leader is “graded” by the principal …
Is it possible that principals are “crossing the line”?
Is someone overseeing “unique” courses? Is “credit recovery” a valid process to make up failed material or a way to grant credits that student didn’t earn?
Unfortunately, I fear the DOE policy is “don’t ask, don’t tell.”