A for-profit school that was promoted by Republican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee’s education problems, was recently found to be removing bad grades to “more accurately recognize students’ current progress.”
In a December email that was obtained by local TV station WTVF, it was revealed that Tennessee Virtual Academy’s vice principal directed middle school teachers to deleted failing grades from the months of October and September.
“After looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays,” the email says, continuing to read that each teacher needed to “take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress.” The email went on to read, “If you have given an assignment and most of your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade out.”
Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson said she was horrified at the news because the school’s actions were tantamount to cheating.
“Does it talk about we need to make changes in curriculum? Does it talk about we need to make changes in our teaching strategy? No,” Johnson said. “Those changes we need to make are deleting grades from the computer system.”
“To come in and say ‘everybody who made failing grades the first two months, we need to delete those grades,’ to me that’s a huge issue,” she said. “To me, this appears like it’s grade fixing.”
In light of the revelation, Tennessee Virtual Academy Principal Josh Williams ensured the public that the school had taken steps to “more accurately recognize students’ current progress.”
“By going back into our school’s electronic grading system and recording students’ most recent progress score (instead of taking the average throughout the semester) we could more accurately recognize students’ current progress in their individualized learning program,” he said in an email to WTVF subsequent to the news story.