Gov. Larry Hogan calls for criminal investigation into Baltimore City schools’ grading practices – Baltimore Sun

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Governor Larry Hogan is calling for a criminal investigation into the Baltimore City school system after the state’s education watchdog uncovered inconsistencies among teachers, vice-principals and principals changing grades. failure in passing grades.

The Office of the Inspector General for Education this week recommended that the Maryland State Department of Education authorize a performance audit of the city’s school system after its investigators found interpretations, applications and differing adherence to class change procedures among high school staff.

The survey focused largely on teachers and administrators rounding up grades when a student was within one to three percentage points of passing. The minimum pass mark for a student in a municipal school is 60%. Officials have identified more than 12,500 cases across the system where grades went from failing to passing between 2016 and the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Grade changes can happen for a variety of reasons, system leaders told investigators, such as when a student works with their teacher to complete missing assignments.

However, investigators also found that some principals and vice-principals instructed educators to automatically upgrade all 58% and 59% grades to a passing grade, according to redacted information. emails included in the report. It was not immediately clear how the general policies of rounding up failing grades impacted enrollment or graduation rates.

In a statement Thursday, Hogan said the report’s findings demonstrate a “staggering level of disregard for the integrity of the education system and a clear lack of accountability at the highest levels.”

The Republican governor referred the matter to the Maryland State Attorney and the U.S. District Attorney of Maryland for further investigation.

A U.S. attorney’s representative confirmed the governor’s letter was received, but said the office neither confirms nor denies the investigations. State’s Attorney Charlton Howard said his office was also not commenting on the status of the investigations, but confirmed that he had received the governor’s letter.

“We will review and take appropriate action,” he said.

Representatives of the Baltimore City School System and the Office of the Inspector General of Education did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

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In a statement posted on the system’s website, officials said the city’s schools fully cooperated with the inspector general of education during his nearly three-year review of grading policies.

“We are also committed to conducting a re-audit of current grading results in the 2022-23 school year,” officials said. “If interested, City Schools is willing to share information and ideas with other government entities, consistent with their statutory authority, to ensure a clear understanding of student grading.”

City school leaders defended the school system on Wednesday, saying the incidents cited in the report largely occurred before a grading policy change in 2019 and “did not illustrate the pressure across the system to change grades”.

Inspector General investigators did not find any violations of law or financial irregularities, the earlier statement noted.

Hogan’s statement called the city’s education administration and said the children have been denied the education they deserve.

“Beyond the legal implications, there has been a clear moral failing by school administrators who seem more concerned with their own image than the welfare of their students,” he said. “This scandal has broken the bonds of trust between city officials and parents, students and taxpayers.”

The governor has frequently blamed the city’s school system for chronic problems with student achievement and weather-related closures. Spokesman Michael Ricci declined to comment when asked why the governor believed a criminal investigation was warranted.

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