I chuckle how Tweed, the media mouthpieces, and even the Obama Administration trumpets the improved high school graduation rates since Bloomberg became Mayor in 2002. However, the improvements in the high school graduation rates are not due to improved academic achievement by the students but by less than legitimate methods to artificially boost the graduation rates. Lets take a look at some of them.
“Credit Recovery Program”:
Almost all high schools have installed a “credit recovery program” for their students. The “credit recovery program” is highly uneven and can range from real academic skill work (but never as much as was taught in the classroom) to doing an essay. Of course some schools went overboard and gave credit to outrageous situations like this. Some schools made it so easy that you just needed to Google the answer. Unfortunately, the DOE has not published any statistics to show what percentage of graduating students were aided by the “credit recovery program” but it would not surprise me if some schools had double digit improvement in graduation rates due to the “credit recovery program”.
In a select number of schools online courses are being used as a method to increase graduation rates. Some online courses are almost, but not quite as difficult, to pass as the actual classroom. Even in the more legitimate courses, the student can take the test up to five times before they cannot receive credit for the course. However, in many cases the online work can be done at home and there is no way to oversee if the student is actually doing the work or getting somebody else to do it for them.
“Life Skill Credits”:
Over the years the DOE has quietly allowed schools to give up to ten credits for foreign born students who’s native language is other than English. However, the criteria used seems to have been ignored as one school in particular gave up to twelve “life skills credits” to all students who came from another country, even English speaking ones like Jamaica and Guyana. Furthermore, no real effort was made to make sure these students actually attended school full-time in their native countries.
“Administrators Changing Grades”:
There has been increased pressure on Principals to improve their school grade and receive bonuses and one of the ways is to either pressure teachers in changing student grades or do it themselves. With Tweed looking the other way when some Principals have been caught doing it, more Principals are tempted to take the easy way out and do it also. Even when they are caught, the DOE appears to do nothing about it.
“Manipulating Dropout Rates”:
Finally, many Administrators will manipulate the dropout rates to make it seem that students who dropped out were never really at the school in the first place or transferred to another school. This practice intensified as principals were judged on their graduation rates. The lower the dropout rate, the higher the graduation rate.
Real academic achievement should be the goal not phony and artificially inflated graduation rates which has been the trademark of the Bloomberg/Klein Administration. I can only say to those clueless non-educators who trumpet the graduation rates, "BULLSHIT"!