Baltimore Schools Accused Of Inflating Grades To Pass Students

Baltimore schools are accused of handing out higher grades than deserved to thousands of students in a state investigation.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Baltimore schools

Schools have been found to inflate grades, otherwise known as handing out higher scores than earned, likely for as long as public schools have been in existence. However, it is a term being thrown around more and more, as the perception that schools are abetting this practice more often continues to increase. Furthering this notion, Baltimore schools recently were accused of raising grades for students, in a new, criminalizing report from a state inspector general. 

Chalkboard Review reports that this might not have been an honest mistake, where teachers were raising students’ grades just a little bit. After an investigation by an inspector general, it is now being recommended that Baltimore schools be audited, as the education administrator says that thousand of students’ grades were purposely altered from at least 2016 to 2019. Even the state governor, Larry Hogan, read through the report and Tweeted out against the public schools calling the evidence a “moral failing” on the part of school administrators.

In the Inspector General’s report, the findings showed how school administrators catered to a school system that allowed the district to get away with purposeful grade manipulation. Copies of email records depict the worse cases, where some Baltimore school administrators clearly asked teachers to alter some students’ grades without any clear reason why. In another instance, an anonymous staff member was interviewed for the investigation and outwardly promoted grade inflation to pass students on to the next level. This employee felt that students won’t have a better understanding of a subject just by repeating a failed class. 

In other findings, teachers were not blatantly altering Baltimore school students’ grades, however, some details depicted how a lack of understanding of how the grading system was intended to work aided in the ultimate grade inflation that took place over the years. Infinite Campus, the district student information software, was consistently reported to be a confusing system that staffers did not understand how to properly use. Because of this, the inspector general believes that learned behavior promoted oversights in the system, such as missed grade entering deadlines that further inflated grade levels reported by the district. 

Additionally, more proof showed just how easy it was for school administrators to squeeze grade changes through the system, often unnoticeable. Prior to 2019, only one signature from the Baltimore school principal was needed to enact any student grade changes. Now, teachers are required to provide context as to why they are requesting grade changes. 

Further trying to smooth the situation over, a spokesperson for the district attempted to downplay the Baltimore schools’ misconduct, calling the situation “growing pains” from application procedures. Miscommunication, negligence, and other factors may have led to the growing amount of grade changes found during this period, said to affect more than 12,000 students. Additionally, the spokesperson signified that oftentimes, teachers were changing a grade because the student was on the cusp of receiving a higher grade point average. 

So why exactly might the Baltimore school district be fostering a workplace that promotes the inflation of student grades? For one thing, it might be due to a feeling of compassion for students struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of school. But in a more malicious sense, it may be happening because school leaders don’t want their district to appear less desirable to families and communities.