Teachers Allege Grade-Fixing at Oakland High School

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is launching an investigation into possible grade-fixing in one of its high school’s credit recovery programs, EdSource reports.

The allegations focus on Castlemont High in East Oakland and its use of a district online credit recovery program that allows students to make up credits for failed courses.

Two teachers filed formal complaints with the district in June and July alleging that a teacher, two counselors and the school’s former principal were involved in falsifying district records. Each of the people named denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to investigating the Castlemont allegations, the district may hire an outside investigator to audit grades for all students who used the credit recovery program over the past five years.

The grade-fixing allegations were first reported Wednesday by NBC Bay Area based on information provided by three teachers. The allegations involved both fixing of transcript grades and giving students credit for online courses that were not completed.

One former district teacher who filed a complaint told NBC the grades of at least eight students were changed so they could graduate in June. “I noticed that a lot of students were receiving credit for classes that they were never enrolled in or were receiving (passing) grades for online learning that they hadn’t actually completed,” she said. A second teacher said that another educator emailed answers to students before the tests. Both teachers said they discovered that records had been changed to show passing grades for students to whom they had given failing grades.

District spokesman John Sasaki said none of the allegations involve wrongdoing by the district’s credit recovery program provider, Apex Learning. The Seattle, Washington-based company has been in business over 20 years and provides online credit recovery courses to some 2,000 districts nationwide.

Oakland Unified, which has used the Apex program for five years, has boasted that its graduation rates have improved from 70.3 percent in 2016-17 to 73.1 percent in 2017-18. Castlemont High’s graduation rates rose from 64.8 percent to 69.9 percent during that time.

Both were significantly lower than statewide graduation rates, which grew from 86.7 percent to 87.3 percent over those two years.