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Grades Changed To Pass Failing Students At Baltimore City Middle School

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Changing grades to promote students. That's what teachers at one Baltimore middle school are accused of doing.

As Gigi Barnett explains--the problem may extend to other city schools.

Just before the end of the school year at Booker T. Washington Middle in Baltimore, teachers entered their final grades. Now, some of those teachers are learning that the students they failed were promoted.

Someone changed their grades.

"I don't believe this," a mother said.

This parent didn't want to be identified. She's upset that, in some cases, grades were changed from a failing 50% to a 90%--that's an "A."

"I guess this is the kind of world we live in. Where, you know, people are killing people and then don't do time and kids that's not going to school that's graduating, so," she said.

Teachers reported the changes, and an investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, the district says it has no idea who made the changes. Only principals or high-ranking school leaders can do that.

Some parents are baffled, but not surprised.

"How...who else can get into the system? Kids is passing and not knowing. Not on the level," said Tamiria Livemam, parent.

As school leaders at headquarters try to figure out who changed the grades at Booker T. Washington, they're also looking into whether this is a more widespread problem and happening at other schools.

In a statement to WJZ, the district's Chief Academic Officer Sonja Santelises writes:

"When a school-level allegation emerges, it is standard practice for us to review our district-wide data to determine the scope of the issue. In preparation for the upcoming school year, we are also taking immediate steps to strengthen our guidance on this topic so that all school staff are knowledgeable of the parameters for making grade changes."

In some cases, grade changes are allowed. But the district says it has to be justified, meaning students have to do the work first.

Back in 2011, school leaders changed their grading policy. That blocked teachers from giving students less than a 50% when they failed a class.

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