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Failing Exams Re-Scored to Passing; A Snapshot of a School in Trouble

Failing Exams Re-Scored to Passing; A Snapshot of a School in Trouble

Despite a long history battling the practice known as "scrubbing,"—re-scoring exams that are just short of a passing grade—one school in New York City has adopted the practice once again in a desperate attempt to boost student achievement.

"Under pressure to boost student achievement, the state-designated 'out of time' Automotive HS in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has resorted to rigging Regents exam scores. The failing scores of five students who took the Regents in January were switched to passing scores of 65 or higher on their transcripts, the city Department of Education has confirmed," according to the New York Post.

When a school is designated as "out of time" in New York, it means the school needs immediate attention or to be closed. Automotive classifies as "out of time," one of seven city schools given the term.

Even though "scrubbing" was banned by the state and has led to teacher dismissals, the process is now being sanctioned by the city as students struggle to pass exams with harsher grading policies on the statewide Regents exams.

"While declaring Regents scores 'final,' state officials last week said exams may be re-scored 'if the superintendent of schools has compelling reason to believe that an essay was not scored in accordance with the rating guide or according to the required procedures,'" the Post said.

This year, the Renewal Schools' Superintendent Aimee Horowitz approved the re-scoring of nine Regents exams from Automotive students though the reasons as to why have not been revealed.

Out of the nine students, five of those students' scores were changed to passing. The school is also looking into an option for allowing students to pass classes they otherwise failed if they passed the Regents exam, a move that would benefit students who failed the exams before re-scoring even more.

One parent of a student whose test score was changed to passing told the Post she does not support the move because she feels it is not doing her son any good.

"Her son 'spent most of the school year at a suspension site.' He was ousted from Automotive for fighting and accidentally jabbing a teacher who was trying to break it up with a pencil, she said," according to the article.

Automotive is plagued with low test scores, plummeting enrollment rates, and dismal graduation rates.

"The challenges ahead are immense. The vast majority of Automotive’s incoming freshmen have failed or scored below proficient on state exams, records show. Only about half of its teachers have applied to return next fall," the article said.

The school added after-school tutoring last year, an effort expected to be more focused on this upcoming school year. Additionally, Renewal schools will add an extra hour of instruction time in the school day to boost progress, the Post said.

Only time will tell if Automotive's efforts are too little, too late and if the school is truly out of time. 

Read the full story here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/29/2015

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