City Schools Administrator: Grade Changing on Decline, But Still Happening

City Schools Administrator: Grade Changing on Decline, But Still Happening

A high-level Baltimore City Public Schools employee says grade changing is on the decline, following a series of Fox45 investigations.

The last time Project Baltimore spoke to this administrator, who works inside Baltimore City Schools headquarters, it was September. We’re concealing this person’s identity, because after that first story aired, Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises had a message for her employees.

“The CEO met with our entire organization, meaning North Avenue,” says the City Schools administrator. “There was a specific statement that if we felt that there was any issues going on, that we felt were adverse, to bring them to her before going to Fox 45.”

Last fall, Fox 45 obtained copies of report cards from Calverton Elementary/Middle School. Each one had two versions. In the first, 13 students failed a total of 18 classes. In the second, printed 19 days later, each failing grade was changed to a 60- the lowest passing score. At the time, this administrator said upwards of 70 percent of all the high schools and middle schools in Baltimore were changing grades to pass students. Now, this administrator says that number has dropped to about 20 percent of schools changing grades.

“As a result of the story, the message coming across to principals that the way in which business was conducted previously needs to be changed,” the administrator tells Project Baltimore.

Those changes were laid out in an internal memo obtained by Fox45. They include new grading guidelines and mandatory training for employees who input grades. The central grading system was analyzed for errors.

We also learned, from an email in October, City Schools opened an internal investigation into grade changing allegations at Calverton. And that investigation includes a text message Project Baltimore obtained from Calverton’s Principal, Martia Cooper, instructing her teachers to change failing grades to passing. Eight months later, North Avenue tells us that internal investigation is ongoing. But the administrator who spoke with us says nothing will come of it.

“Some people should lose their jobs,” says the administrator, who believes it’s unlikely anyone will be fired. “Some people will be moved around to different positions. That is how it’s happened and will continue to happen. Or that person will be shuffled through the system. It's the culture.”

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