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 email@example.com.
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.