Cheaters’ prep

Already accused of cheating on the state exam for two years in a row, an Oakland charter school also appears to have changed transcripts to qualify students for college. The San Francisco Chronicle has documents for five students.

In spring 2006, teachers’ records for an 11th-grade boy at University Preparatory Charter Academy in East Oakland showed an F and five D’s.

His report card for the same period featured three D’s and three C’s.

His transcript — the one received by the California State University campuses that accepted him — glowed with three A’s and three B’s.

A teacher at the school e-mailed me months ago to ask my advice on how to inform the hands-off board what was going on. Finally, eight former teachers blew the whistle, blaming Principal Isaac Haqq, the school’s founder, for altering grades, misnaming courses and blocking low-scoring students from taking state exams.

The 11th-grader’s records for spring 2006 show that his grade-point average jumped from 1.55 on his report card to 2.93 on his college transcript.

Besides the grade changes, his records also reveal morphed course names. What is called “math” on the teachers’ records becomes “math analysis” on the boy’s report card, and “trigonometry” on his college transcript.

“English” is changed to “English Literature” on the report card and “English 3” on the transcript. “History” transforms to “World Civilization” and then to “U.S. History.”

Of the school’s 475 students, 279 are on independent study; they don’t attend classes. Teachers charge low scorers are dumped into independent study, which doesn’t cost the school much, and listed as 12th graders, which means they’re exempt from state testing. In fall 2006, 365 of the school’s 475 students were listed as 12th graders; only 100 seniors graduated in June and 40 went on to college.

Some graduates who got into elite colleges praise Haqq’s dedication. Teachers say he focused on the best students and set the rest up for failure.

Principal Haqq, who has a history of “breaking the rules,” as the Chronicle put it, has resigned. The school is likely to lose its charter in August, barring a miraculous turnaround.

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  1. Resigned? Why isn’t this criminal fraud and why isn’t there any word about impending prosecution?

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    And what happens to the poor kid who got into college even though he didn’t really pass highschool?

    Wasted time… wasted money… and he’ll probably never learn to read and do math properly, so he’ll never escape poverty….

    How could the principal have IMAGINED that this was a helpful move???????

  3. SuperSub says:

    Deirdre –
    Didn’t you know that colleges have magical programs that improve students’ intelligence and capabilities simply through attendance?

    I know in NY there’s state laws concerning manipulation of official student records… not sure what CA has.

  4. thirteenburn says:

    Typical liberalism.

    While it doesn’t come out and say it, I’ll be willing to bet that not only is the student in question a minority, but the the school itself as well, as that’s been the liberal canon for decades. Affimative Action, etc., have diluted the societal pool with people who don’t deserve the job or the class space in colleges, but because of their skin color, they are deemed to be “held down by the racist culture in this country” propagated by the likes of race pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and then given those spots or jobs over the like of people far more deserving of them.

    I don’t understand all the anger in the comments section as you all consistantly vote for liberal democrats over and over again and in my opinion you all get what you deserve.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Drop the stupid righteousness. You have no idea how I or the others have voted.

  6. Thirteenburn: This principal is an outspoken Republican. The guy who first called the CDE to blow the whistle is politically on the far left, and would probably support affirmative action, but not this lying. Right and wrong just don’t follow party lines in any simple way, and you can’t predict from party affiliation who will be honest and who will cheat.

  7. Anyone else think that the principal probably has a personality disorder?

    I’m not excusing him in any way, but really, his biography is unusual in a way that suggests pathological narcissism probably at best.

    I’m baffled how this case connects to voting records or politics of the electorate as it seems to hinge on one nutjob.

  8. This story touches one of the biggest problems in education: the idea that administrators (and sometimes parents) equate receiving passing class grades with success whether students have learned anything or not and the burden is on the teacher to give them, not the kid to earn them.

    In any school concerned about graduation rates or the numbers of failures, review the number of policies in place that actually have anything to do with learning as opposed to grading.

    Almost invariably, you’ll see policies against giving zeros for assignments not completed or requirements about the minimum grade as student is given for work not done at a certain point in the semester. You’ll see chances to make up work from the start of the year at the end of the year, which is great if it’s something that the kid can still benefit from doing, but pretty pointless if it was a building block for a skill or project that’s already been completed.

    When we are pressured about failure rates at my school, I’ve started sarcastically suggesting that we cut out all the time consuming BS and just make a D the lowest possible grade. If what we are being asked to do just raises the grade without really requiring additional proof of mastery, what’s the difference really?

  9. Anonymous says:

    NDC wrote: Anyone else think that the principal probably has a personality disorder?

    Yes – a common perception among teachers at the school was that he had some kind of psychiatric disorder and was “off his meds.” (I worked there.)

    Thinking of it, it’s curious no-one has raised this issue in public before now.