Progress reports for the city’s roughly 500 high schools are slated to be released this month, but grades for two Bronx schools will not be among them.
One is Herbert H. Lehman High School, where executive principal Janet Saraceno is under investigation for grade tampering, as I reported last month. The Department of Education also may not release the progress report for John F. Kennedy High School because of missing information and inconsistencies in the data it sent to the department, said DOE spokesman David Cantor.
If the problems with Kennedy’s data are resolved by the time the department releases the reports, the school’s report card will be made public on schedule, Cantor said.
Several other high schools are being examined by the Office of Special Investigations for tampering with students’ Regents scores or inappropriately changing students’ grades after they passed the exam, but their report cards are on track to be released.
“There’s not a template or a rubric for determining this,” Cantor said. “If the allegations are significant enough that they could materially affect the grades of the school, we would hold the progress report back. It doesn’t happen very often.”
Progress reports for high schools assign a letter grade to each school based on students’ credit accumulation and graduation rates, as well as the percentage of students who pass Regents exams.
Current and former teachers at Lehman have charged Saraceno — who was hired with a $25,000 bonus to improve the school’s academics — with giving dozens of students credit for courses they failed or never took. Transcripts given to GothamSchools show that in some instances, a student failed a class, passed the Regents exam by a slim margin, and then had his failing grade overturned. In others, students were given two credits for a class they passed once, or for classes that never appeared on their schedules.
In a memo Saraceno sent to Lehman teachers on October 1, she congratulated the staff on the school’s results from a preliminary progress report. “We made modest gains in the graduation rate, but increased credit accumulation for first-year, second-year, and third-year students by 8-10%,” she wrote.
Though Kennedy is not currently under investigation, the Office of Special Investigations twice scrutinized the schools’ Regents scores following accusations that failing scores had been changed to passing ones. The first investigation found that the school’s principal Anthony Rotunno had the right to change students’ grades. A second inquiry determined that the changes made to 16 students’ transcripts were done according to department guidelines.