This week on Banter, AEI Resident Scholar Nat Malkus joins the show to discuss the DC Public Schools graduation scandal. After posting a record graduation rate in 2017, an audit revealed that one-third of graduates received diplomas in violation of the District’s attendance policy. If the District’s attendance policy had been followed, the graduation rate would have fallen from 73 percent to less than 50 percent. What implications does this have for education reform and what systems should be developed to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future? Read more about the scandal at the links below.

Learn More:

Washington, DC graduation scandal: A canary in the coal mine? | In 60 Seconds | AEI | April 12, 2018 

DC’s dishonest record graduation rate is a disgrace—here’s how to fix it | Nat Malkus | Washington Examiner | March 12, 2018

Don’t assume high school graduation fraud is only in DC. It’s not. | Nat Malkus | USA Today | February 17, 2018 

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Published in: Education

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  1. Taras Coolidge

     Short and to the point. 

     The bottom line is, the public education establishment is using fraudulent statistics in the fight against calls for opening up its monopoly to competition.

     In his USA Today column (and similar words here), Nate Malkus urges that the public school teachers unions be enlisted in the fight against graduation fraud: “Unions have healthy incentives to protect teachers from untoward pressure, and no perverse incentives to inflate numbers.”

    Isn’t he just whistling in the graveyard? The unions have every incentive to — and, in fact, do — fight tooth and nail to preserve their monopoly.

    • #1
    • April 19, 2018, at 8:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. T-Fiks Member

    Washington, D.C.’s scandal occurs everywhere to a certain degree. The unintended consequences of emphasizing graduation rates and content “mastery” are very harmful.

    One of the most harmful impacts is that teachers are discouraged from building the kinds of habits among their students that are essential for productive workplaces and even civil society. Attendance can’t matter anymore, neither can assignment deadlines or classroom participation.

    “Standards-based education” diminishes all those things in favor of often vague “demonstrations of mastery.” As the pressure for student “progress” gets stronger and stronger, those demonstrations get less demanding. As mentioned in the podcast, credit retrieval instruments–sometimes written tests but often projects–become more and more farcical. One weekend’s project can compensate for weeks of attendance and classroom participation as well as hours of reading and responding.

    The pressure on classroom teachers to weaken standards is steady and powerful. Building principals’ teacher assessments often reflect poorly on those instructors who won’t go along to get along. Along with poor professional assessments, non-complying teachers are often given poorer course assignments and are often subtly ostracized in the building culture.

    The resulting teacher acquiescence often also includes drastically lowering grading standards, accepting class disruptions, and cutting down on behavioral referrals to administrators.

    Like many other society-wide policies to accommodate dysfunctional behavior, these policies harm vast numbers of lower- and middle-class people–students, in this case–who depend on effective cultural institutions to provide them a route to productive adulthood.

    • #2
    • April 19, 2018, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • Like