PROJECT BALTIMORE:Text Message Instructs City Teachers to Change Grades
BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- A Baltimore City Public Schools internal investigation into allegations of grade changing has expanded to include another school. First, it was NACA II in Northeast Baltimore. Now, City Schools has confirmed to Fox45 its investigation into allegations of grade changing includes Calverton Elementary/Middle in west Baltimore.
City Schools made the announcement following a series of Project Baltimore investigations that uncovered before-and-after report cards where failing grades were apparently changed to passing. And now, a teacher from Calverton tells Project Baltimore that grade changing is not just common, Fox45 obtained what the educator calls proof.
The below text, obtained by Project Baltimore, is short, but says a lot. We’re told it was sent to teachers at Calverton at the end of last school year. The time stamp on the text reads June 13, 2017 at 7:41 am. The person who sent it, according to the name on the text and our sources, is Calverton’s Principal Martia Cooper. The text reads:
“Good Morning people! (Secretary) is printing report cards so finally you can get cumes finished. Please double check end of year averages and make sure they are 60 and above, except our four retention candidates (2 elem and 2 grade 7). If you find any grade averages below 60, pkesss (sic) have (secretary) correct and give me a copy of those student names. Thanks!”
A Calverton educator, who reached out to Fox45, claims to have received that text. “[It instructed me to] go into my grade book, make sure no students are failing, and essentially change the grade if they are failing so they will pass with a 60 percent,” said the teacher, whose identity we are concealing upon request.
“I was frustrated as a teacher. We’re public servants. And when we see things like grade changing, that’s self-serving. That’s not helping the kids.”
After watching Fox45’s recent investigations into allegations of grade changing at Calverton, the City Schools employee contacted Project Baltimore to say a couple things. First, according to the teacher, grade changing at Calverton is “very common.”
Second, the educator told Fox45, changing grades is the easiest and fastest way to pass more students, which makes the school and its administrators look better. But, it does a huge disservice to not just the kids, but our entire community.
“Teaching a whole generation of kids that they don’t have to be accountable for their actions, or that hard work isn’t valued or valuable when they are in school, is so discouraging and damaging.”
But this teacher says grade changing at Calverton goes much further than just taking a failing grade and making it a 60. Some students who pass, according to this educator, don’t even have grades because they’ve never showed up to class.
“There were student on my roster all year that I had never met, had never seen. On paper they passed my class and passed onto the next year.”
Project Baltimore reached out to Principal Cooper asking her to explain this text. Similar to all other attempts to contact Cooper, we heard nothing back. So, we sent the same email to North Avenue and got this response.
“We received your email regarding the text. An investigation is currently underway with respect to grade-changing allegations at Calverton. The district does not comment on ongoing investigations.”
– Edie House: Baltimore City Public Schools
“I love my job and I love my students,” concluded the teacher. “I want to see the students at Calverton and other schools across the city, get a fresh start. And it’s going to be hard because the students are used to this now. But the students deserve better and our city deserve better.”