In grad-rate crisis in D.C. schools, deep questions of ethics

Feb 11, 2018 by

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Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo –

Monitor editors and writers spend a lot of time looking for credible signs of social advancement. But when the “progress” tag is wrongly worn in the pursuit of recognition, that’s worth probing, too, out of respect for those not seeing the promised gains.

After a recent scandal surrounding graduation rates, the school system in Washington, D.C., is doing some self-reflection. Records for one-third of the 2017 graduates (excluding those from charter schools) indicate that their schools violated attendance and/or credit policies in allowing them to graduate. The District of Columbia is not the only place this is happening, observers say, which can make it difficult to separate genuine improvements in graduation from gains that merely look good on paper. The question then becomes: At what point does a desire to help struggling students get through high school cross the line into unethical shortcuts, potentially setting them up for longer-term failure? Underlying the scrutiny is a deep desire by many stakeholders to bolster trust – trust among students, parents, and teachers; trust between educators and administrators; and trust in public education itself. “The way you engage the most challenging kids is through relationships,” says Mark Hecker, executive director of the nonprofit Reach Incorporated. “There needs to be someone [in the school] that is going to notice if that kid is not there that day, which [requires] transformative investments.”

Source: In grad-rate crisis in D.C. schools, deep questions of ethics

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