To boost graduation rates, some principals are making it nearly impossible to fail, reports Samuel Freedman in the New York Times.
Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy of the schoolâ€™s grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.
Indira Fernandez, a fifth-year senior in Lampros’s intermediate algebra class, skipped class two-thirds of the time and flunked the first semester. Trying again in second semester, she “missed one-third of the classes, arrived late for 20 sessions, turned in half the required homework assignments, failed 11 of 14 tests and quizzes, and never took the final exam.” When she showed up with doctor’s note two days after the June 12 final, the principal told Lampros to let her retake the missed final — even though the note excused her only from absences before March 15.
After two days of one-on-one tutoring by another math teacher, the student scored a 66 on the final. She was far below a 65 passing average for the semester, so Lampros failed her. The principal reversed the decision, allowed the girl to pass the class and receive a diploma. The teacher quit.
From Michigan, Mr. Lampros recalled one comment that Mrs. Fernandez made during their meeting about why it was important for Indira to graduate. She couldnâ€™t afford to pay for her to attend another senior prom in another senior year.
Meanwhile, Indiana schools are fudging school data, opines the Indy Star. For example, why did Indianapolis Public Schools report 969 seniors at the start of the 2005-06 school year but give diplomas to nearly 1,300 seniors in June, 2006?