Students who’d earned D’s and F’s were given C grades on their June report cards, charges a Detroit teacher. The Detroit Free Press reports:
Science teacher Marjorie Pasqualle struggled in her classroom at Detroit’s Durfee Elementary last year — and so did her sixth- and seventh-grade students.
She endured taunts and threats, one student slapped her face and, in a chaotic atmosphere where students weren’t learning, she turned in 94 D’s and F’s for June report cards, records show.
But documents also show that the bad grades Pasqualle gave to students were changed to C’s on report cards and computerized student records — and without her consent, she said.
Rated “unsatisfactory” for poor class control and incomplete lesson plans, Pasqualle, 62, retired at the end of the year after 9 1/2 years in the classroom. The district is investigating the grade-changing allegations. Tracy Johnson, principal at Durfee Elementary, denies authorizing changes.
Pasqualle is not the only teacher to complain that failing grades are raised to make low-performing schools look better and to avoid retaining students in the same grade.
Teacher Mary Helen D’Angelo said a principal passed about three dozen fifth-graders who failed the MEAP test and her summer math class in 2009. “She told me, ‘It must’ve been something wrong with your teaching,’ ” D’Angelo recalled recently. “They came to me with second-grade skills.”
Altering records is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, up to two years in jail and suspension of a teaching certificate. Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for DPS, vows to fire anyone who changes a grade without the teacher’s consent. Bobb signed an order last year declaring an end to social promotion. Staff training will follow, he told the Free Press.
Teachers and union officials say there’s heavy pressure to pass students along.
In 2009, Bobb fired 33 principals at low-performing schools. In 2010, he replaced the principals and staffs at most of the 51 lowest-performing schools.
Teacher Tracy Arneau said she failed four first-graders in 2006 who were struggling readers, but the principal promoted them to second grade anyway. By fall, two of the students were placed back in first grade because they were struggling.
“They weren’t successful, fluent readers,” she said. “Passing them was a disservice to the children, the next teacher and the next class. Everybody loses.”
Pasqualle submitted computerized grade sheets in the spring that contained 68 F’s and 26 D’s. All were changed to C’s. The grades in prior marking periods — often D’s and F’s — were blanked out.
As a result, a student who’d missed 20 days of class in the semester and another who’d missed 39 days in the school year were given C grades. So did a straight F student with 37 absences who’s accused in a police report of assaulting Pasqualle.