Tag Archives: transparency

Prince George’s offers plan to tighten grading controls after claims of fraud

MAXWELL-1672x1254Prince George’s County officials will tighten practices for changing student grades, monitoring absenteeism and certifying graduation requirements under a plan that follows an investigation of alleged fraud in graduation rates.

The 40-page plan, slated for discussion by the county school board Tuesday evening, is expected to go to state officials by month’s end, in answer to wide-ranging problems detailed in a state report last month.

That report found nearly 5,500 grade changes in the days before commencement in 2016 and 2017 in the Maryland school system. A sampling of records showed that about 30 percent of students with late grade changes lacked documentation that justified graduation or were clearly ineligible, according to the report.

“We’re making a lot of significant changes,” said Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of the school system, the state’s second-largest. “It’s a serious issue and this is going to help us make sure we are doing everything possible to make sure that our students are ready to graduate on time and that the processes and procedures are followed.”

 The plan calls for stricter controls on access to student records, added training for employees and elimination of controversial “packets” of make-up work given to students hoping to recover from failing grades.

The district will move toward electronic grade-change forms, starting in a handful of schools in spring, to strengthen monitoring. Next school year, graduation certification also will be done electronically, rather than manually through “tally cards” — a change that officials said will improve and automate the process.

The district also will revise procedures for tracking attendance and clarify how unexcused absences will affect student grades. Students in jeopardy of failing a course may still enroll in credit recovery through an online program.

An outside firm will be hired to review how the district of more than 132,000 students has implemented recommended changes. Later, an outside firm will also audit a random selection of student grades and graduation requirements.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the investigation in Prince George’s after a minority bloc on the school board urged that he look into evidence from whistleblowers that grades and credit counts were manipulated.

A D.C. firm — Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services — conducted the seven-week inquiry, looking into complaints, examining records and doing interviews at the county’s 28 high schools.

[Firm hired to probe graduation rates in Prince George’s County schools]

Four-year graduation rates in Prince George’s climbed from 74.1 percent in 2013 to 81.4 percent in 2016. While the rate is still lower than last year’s state average of 87.6 percent, the gain over that period was the largest of any school system in Maryland.

Maxwell had cited improvement in graduation rates as a signature accomplishment.

In an interview, he said he did not think the changes being made would reduce graduation rates in coming years.

“I certainly hope not,” he said, adding that educators are working hard to make sure students get the support they need.

The state-ordered report that was released in November did not find any improper action was ordered by school system leaders.

Asked what went wrong, Maxwell spoke about longtime procedural issues and high turnover among administrators in schools and the central office. He noted that some schools used out-of-date forms to make grade changes.

Others have said in recent weeks that more investigation is needed.

Edward Burroughs III, a member of the Board of Education’s minority bloc, said this month that the audit did not go far enough. He hinted that there were other complaints that were not explored.

Maxwell said he saw no reason to examine the issue further, calling the investigation a “very, very thorough” review that provided useful information about a serious matter.

Raaheela Ahmed, also a member of the board’s minority bloc, said she thinks accountability for improper action is important but wants to ensure the school system focuses on those who called the shots, not those who may have been pressured.

“I want to make sure the right people are being held accountable for the situation we’re in, and not the foot soldiers,” she said. “It’s a very complex situation, and you don’t want someone to be held responsible for something they were told to do by someone else.”

Curtis Valentine, a member of the board majority on this issue, said he appreciated the urgency Maxwell and other leaders gave to the problems identified in report, adding that they were proactive in addressing issues on credit recovery before the report came out. “This is one step, and I think another step is that parents and educators feel comfortable enough to come forward with any concerns about the implementation of the changes,” he said.

Via Washington post

***

Advertisements

Transparency, Anti-Corruption, and Sustainable Development: Is Progress Possible?

20022016 christine lagarde

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks during a discussion in a past photo. IMF is starting to embrace new strategies to combat corruption. 

Brookings/The Partnership for Transparency Fund/World Bank Group – hosted a full day of discussions on anti-corruption on Monday. The first public session featured IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde – the second panel discussion highlighted  experts on corruption and extractives. The second half of the day, involving a small group on “Chatham House ” rules discussed ways to best approach research in the area of corruption and natural resources. The first two panels are captured on video –

The IMF and corruption discussion on Manday Septemebr 18th, 2017 starts at minute 41 on this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnMj-5P4snk

world-map
***

State lawmakers from Prince George’s seek broad probe of graduation rates

IMG_0158Members of the Prince George’s County’s legislative delegation joined the call Thursday for a state investigation into charges that county school officials doctored grades to increase promotion and graduation rates.

In a letter dated Thursday, the delegates called upon state Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon to examine the claims. The letter was signed by Dels. Jerry Walker and Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Bowie resident and vice chairwoman of the delegation.

The claims were made by four members of the county school board, including David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie.

“Given that the Maryland State Department of Education has oversight over public school districts in Maryland and the educational interests of the State, we respectfully request the resources of the Maryland State Department Education for purposes of an in-depth audit and further investigation of such serious allegations,” the delegates wrote.

The allegations of grade tampering came to light this week when county schools CEO Kevin Maxwell revealed that four school board sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking him to conduct an investigation into possible irregularities. He dismissed the claims as “politically motivated” and revealed that a similar probe conducted last fall turned up no evidence of grade-tampering. However, Dr. Maxwell has refused to sit down with reporters as such fox for on camera interview despite repeated requests.

At a jam-packed and often heated school board meeting Thursday night, during which the $1.9 billion school budget was passed, Maxwell repeated his defense of the school system.

“The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s schools stand for – past, present and future,” Maxwell said. “These allegations denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor administrator and employee in this system.”

In their letter, the delegates said the state probe of anonymous allegations last fall did not go far enough because the school personnel interviewed in that investigation were selected by Maxwell.

“It has come to our attention that a high level of concern exists for those schools that experienced a significant change in graduation rate or that have a significant disparity between graduation rates and the performance of students on high school standardized tests,” delegates wrote. “We are also aware that the local change in grading policy may be causing both confusion and disagreement among teachers and parents and this issue could certainly be clarified through a careful MSDE review.”

County officials adopt slightly increased budget for FY 2018
The other nine school board members and a group of county high school principals released statements this week denying the charges and supporting Maxwell.

But Ahmed and Murray stood by their claims, saying Thursday they’d heard and seen enough evidence from system employees to indicate that something was amiss with the grading system. Hogan’s office has forwarded the letter to state education officials.

“There was enough information that I had received – testimony, having seen documents – that there convinced me there was reason for some of these things to be true,” Ahmed said. “I had reason to expect issues – widespread issues.”

Tracie Miller, principal of Gwynn Park High School, was joined by several other high school principals at the board meeting in Upper Marlboro as she spoke out in defense of her colleagues at the meeting.

“We, as high school principals, are extremely offended about the allegations and hurtful accusations that we pressure teachers to to give students grades in order to (increase) the graduation rate,” she said. Such claims, she added, “stain all of us.”

Many parents have come forward with information that their children grades appear suspicious after receiving an A in their report card. Other students who skipped school for many days got A’s and B’s as part of their grades in a shocking revelation to make the adminstration look good.

image

***

2nd Major Meeting Planned in PG County to Discuss corruption and other issues

030912-Senate-hopeful

Senator C. Anthony Muse
Democrat, District 26, Prince George’s County (See Below)

SECOND EDUCATION FORUM. Please join Senator Anthony Muse and other sponsors at our next Prince George’s Education forum. Hundreds turned out at the last meeting. However,we cannot just meet. Many issues were identified and we need the information on these issues so that we, as a community, can ACT. Numbers matter. Please be present and invite as many as you can. Meet us there please share this on you FB page.

***

Read more  and call your representatives>>> Let us demand investigations.

***

19059909_10209248659281488_7448346462193070993_n

image

***

Maryland House moves to curb suspensions, expulsions of young pupils

md_general_assemblyThe House of Delegates approved legislation Thursday that would significantly curb the practice of suspending or expelling the youngest public school students without first taking other steps to improve their behavior.

The measure now goes to the state Senate, where a committee approved a similar bill Thursday.

Delegates voted 91-48 for the House measure, which bars the suspension or expulsion of prekindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grades students except in narrow circumstances — such as bringing a gun to school.

Students could be suspended for up to nine days in the House version — five in the Senate’s — only if a mental health professional determines there is an “imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff” that can’t be addressed another way.

The legislation directs that schools provide “intervention and support” for students who are suspended or expelled instead of merely sending them home.

Del. Brooke E. Lierman, the House sponsor, said she’s happy with the bill as amended.

“The bill still sends a strong message to the schools and the Maryland State Department of Education that the General Assembly does not think it is appropriate to suspend or expel our youngest learners,” the Baltimore Democrat said.

If the Maryland State Senate passes its bill as the committee amended it, the two chambers will have to resolve their differences before the bill becomes law.marylandmap2

***

Update on HB1565 – PGCPS Bill on Reform.

img_8982

Prince George’s House Delegation Education Committee hearing on HB1565 to address issues with the school board structure was held yesterday.

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County verified with several delegates concerning the bill HB1565. There are amendments currently pending including by Delegate Howard, Delegate Jay Walker. A possible hearing is supposed to take place next week on Wednesday March 8th, 2017 at 9am. However, delegates are not sure if the date conflicts with other hearings. In any event, it will take a while to decide if the bill dies in the committee or not.

According to delegate Howard, all senators from Prince George’s County except Senator Muse are against bill HB1565. She indicated she was fighting for the bill to be debated and is supportive. We will share the latest once amendments become available.

Remember , we must fight to help  stop….” Prince George’s County Public Schools diverting money through illegal procurement practices and stop using the annual school budget to create black holes to hide money that is later diverted to pet projects, bonuses and salaries of employees for central office staff. When the CEO of Schools, his executive staff and appointed board members are allowed to break the law; cover up the abuse and sexual molestation of children; lose a $4 million grant; fire whistle blowers reporting waste using manufactured evidence; give bonuses and salary increases to executive staff while only giving teachers a 2% cost of living increase; attempt to fund school background checks in the FY18 budget at $600,000 when the FY17 expenditure is projected to be less than $80,000; and consistently have more than $30 million in unplanned spending for non school-based programs or services, it’s difficult to make a legitimate argument that $20 million split between 24 counties is going to hurt our systems bottom line”… ( Tonya Wingfield via facebook)

princegeorges1

***

Update:HB1107 Hearing in Annapolis Maryland postponed.

14925273_10209778694056391_220817217610615058_n

Update: The hearing concerning bill PG -402-17 which was to be held on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 8:30am, room 218 Lowe House Office Building has been postponed. Please check these links for the future hearing and dates.

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&stab=03&id=hru&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=hb1565&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

School Board and CEO
If you are interested in testifying in support of PG-402-17, to return to an all elected school board.

We received this information late. You might want to call your elected officials concerning this bill.

See bill text at https://www.princegeorgeshousedelegation.com/legislation/bill-history?local=PG%20402-17

Read more >>> Kevin Maxwell, PGCPS CEO, gets four more years in Suspicious Circumstances
image
***