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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The DOE-invented credit recovery scam and how it infected my school

For more on how credit recovery has led to accelerated rates of credit accumulation, especially at the new small schools, see Jackie Bennett at EdWize.  But the practice of passing students, regardless of whether they have actually attended class or done homework, has become widespread at many, if not most, high schools throughout NYC, as schools are pressured to raise their statistics or else be threatened with closure.  Below is the account of a teacher who, for obvious reasons, would like to remain anonymous.  If other educators or parents have a story to tell about credit recovery, please email me at leonie@classsizematters.org.
At my school for the past two years my principal has been using what have become simply known as "packets" for credit recovery purposes. Apparently my principal went to a session held by the Department of Education about how to do credit recovery for students and one of the options presented was having students complete a packet of material related to the coursework to be studied.
Now, I'm not sure of the details presented to her in regards to legality (for example: seat time? Can this be a class students have never taken or just one they took but failed? Who grades these, and whose name gets attached to the grade?) but I can tell you about how it has played out in our school.
When it started it was used in very specific situations, and only for students who had so many credits to make up in their senior year that it was impossible to program them for all of them. Then it started getting worse, especially as on-track seniors were allowed to leave school early. Packets started going out right and left:
             ·         Oh, you don't want to have classes after lunch? Sure, you can have a packet for that global credit.
              ·     Oh, you don't like your science teacher? Have a packet instead. 
There seemed to be no limit. Remember, my principal didn't make this idea up; it was recommended to her by DOE officials.
And then teachers were being pressured to give half-finished, crappy packets of worksheets a passing grade. My principal was angry at the teachers who refused to grade them. It became mayhem, and I think she may have even paid teachers at another school to sign their names to some of them.
Actually, it was only through actions made by our UFT chapter that we were able to strongly suggest that this educationally damaging practice be stopped. This is another example of why having strong chapters where teachers feel protected enough to speak about egregious practices is so important. Although I guarantee that come crunch time next May and June, we will see this happening again.
The DOE wants to see graduation rates go up, especially at the new small schools that have been opened under Bloomberg, of which my school is one. They have little incentive to crack down on this type of activity, except of course in the schools they are aiming to close.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course I would like to remain anonymous as well, but have seen this happen all over my school in the last few years. Administrators like to quote, or rather misquote regulations about seat time as well. For example, and I am sure you all can find the actual regulations, somewhere it says that students shouldn't fail ONLY for excessive absences (assuming of course that they master the material they have missed). Elsewhere it says that there is no seat time requirement for online courses. Principals all over the city are interpreting this and bending it to mean that a student could literally not show up all year and be handed a packet to make up the course. This is especially prevalent in schools such as mine where a 50% is the lowest grade we can give to a student that has shown up at least once. This allows the administrator to issue a packet.

Anonymous said...

Just as Diane Ravitch says on Twitter. There needs to be an independent investigation.

This happens at every school in the DOE. We need to EDUCATE children. What is the point of giving them a diploma if they don't utilize it. Also, by allowing "anyone" to graduate, we are demeaning the diploma of many students who works their butts off day in and day out.

Have you heard of the PLATO system? Students can sign up to answer multiple choice questions at a computer screen. No teacher. The Guidance team deems how much work is awarded credit. Really?

I was sitting beside a student who was registered and they were looking through the website portal. She mentioned to her boyfriend, "Oh... yes, this is easy. I can just google all the answers". I couldn't bite my tongue. "Yes, just think about how much you'll be able to learn with this".

Another student of mine asked if he should take the online course instead of re-taking the class over next year. It was a language course. I asked him, "Well, is there an oral section?" " Umm.., no I don't think so" .. "Well, do you want to pass or do you want to learn? I have no doubt that you will do well and get the credit, but you won't know a single thing in that language and you probably won't learn anything about the culture". "Hmm.. okay. good point. See you next fall. Have a good summer"

Why aren't administrators and counselors in the DOE helping our children learn and SUPPORTING the teachers by not undermining the education in our classrooms.

This frustrates me to no end.
~DOE teacher

rantingwoman said...

Principals are assuming kids who earn a 50 know 50% of the material and only need to learn 15% more to pass. This is a joke sine 50 is the lowest grade we are permitted to give a child who shows up to class occassionally.

Meyer said...

Can you talk about what parents know or think about this situation?

Anonymous said...

The practice of granting undeserved credit to raise graduation rates is very troublesome. The DOE is starting, however, to also analyze College Readiness metrics such as how many graduating students enroll in college and do not need remedial courses. I am hopeful that this will help to remove the focus from gaming graduation rates to actually making sure students are prepared for their next steps after graduation. What do you all think?

Anonymous said...

I have seen students earn 20 credits in one semester while being absent over 40 days. Credit recovery should be eliminated.

All these students feel entitled to earning credits by showing up the last week of class and asking for a packet. Principals push it, guidance counselors push it and the teachers bear the brunt of this.

End result. Graduations rates reach over 50%, schools don't get D ratings and students are still as illiterate or more illiterate than when they entered the school.

Real solutions require hard work and the DOE only runs in 2 or 4 year election cycle solutions

Anonymous said...

@DOE Teacher
"Why aren't administrators and counselors in the DOE helping our children learn and SUPPORTING the teachers by not undermining the education in our classrooms. "

Admins, mainly principals, sold their souls, and their ability to obtain tenure, for more money. It always comes down to money. If they don't meet their goals or AYP, they can say goodbye to those huge salaries.

Packets for enormous paychecks.

Anonymous said...

When the principals gave up tenure they entered the twilight zone of education. Their job is not dependent on what the children learn or what actually takes place in their school during the year but on statistics. Thus jobs throughout the system are based on test scores and graduation results.Low scores and they might lose their job. Ask the college teachers at our community colleges what our children are actually learning. It is very sad what our mayor and his cronies have done to the children of our city.

Anonymous said...

This is currently going on at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn. Every one of the chancellor's regulations concerning this issue is being broken. Principal Kathleen Elvin is interested in making our school look good even if it is only on a superficial level. Assistant principals such as Andrew Kenny, Marianna Werth, Emily Creveling, and Eunice Chao make up her army of offenders. Now an attitude has developed among many of our students that if they don't want to study, they can get a "packet" of work that would require just a couple of hours to complete. Having completed this, they earn credit for the course and move on to college. Needless to say, they arrive completely unprepared.

Anonymous said...

This is currently going on at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn. Every one of the chancellor's regulations concerning this issue is being broken. Principal Kathleen Elvin is interested in making our school look good even if it is only on a superficial level. Assistant principals such as Andrew Kenny, Marianna Werth, Emily Creveling, and Eunice Chao make up her army of offenders. Now an attitude has developed among many of our students that if they don't want to study, they can get a "packet" of work that would require just a couple of hours to complete. Having completed this, they earn credit for the course and move on to college. Needless to say, they arrive completely unprepared.

Anonymous said...

Students at John Dewey High School have learned that if you do not show up to class, you could get a packet and get a passing grade. Kathleen Elvin also had seniors sitting in a room during regents week in June doing very little work just so they could get seat time. No instruction, just seat time. Social Studies Assistant Principal Larry Orsini hands teachers grade change forms and forces his teachers to sign them if the student passes a regent. He does not care if the student did very little work, had poor attendance or did not take or pass tests. Principal Elvin requests that her other Assistant Principals do the same. In short, students do not have to come to class on a regular basis (45 absences), do minimal work (small learning packets) and pass no tests and still get credit. Education is not about educating students. It's about a school's passing percentage.

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