Graduation Rates in PGCPS Investigated by DC Firm

Nyla Howell and Kendall Chappell

Between September 12th and October 21st, the firm Alvarez and Marsal, based in Washington, DC, investigated several Prince George’s County Public Schools after a request from Dr. Kevin Maxwell. This request was in response to allegations of grade manipulation to raise graduation rates in the county.

107 people filed complaints related to grade changes, and of those, 60 contacted Alvarez and Marsal directly, 34 contacted PGCPS board members, and 13 contacted MSDE. Almost half of them were related to improper grade changes.

In total, they reviewed 1,212 students out of the total 5,496 students in the county with late grade changes.

Senior Wendy Sorto said, “I don’t think it’s fair if everyone is not being treated equally to the schools system. But I think it depends [on the] student who failed to meet the requirements to not be able to graduate. I think instead of graduating students who didn’t pass a requirement, PGCPS should change up their policy for everyone equally to meet graduation requirements before graduation, which [is] what they’re doing.”

On October 4th, 2017, the firm went to ERHS. They looked at 87 students, and 19 of them had grade changes that impacted their final grades; furthermore, none of these grade changes were recorded.

In general, throughout the schools, the firm found that the schools did not always stick to policies regarding grade changes and recording them.

“The new grading policy will have mostly a positive effect for the school, teachers, and students. There would be less allegations of PGCPS graduating students who aren’t supposed to and students will have a…better chance on graduating. Just a better system to let students know what they need to know and teachers being aware of it,” Sorto further explained.

In a response to this investigation, CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell released a statement, saying that while “no evidence of system-wide intimidation or fraud related to allegations of grade manipulation” was found, there were “several errors made at many schools.” He said that the county “will use these findings to strengthen the school system’s policies, procedures, processes and practices.”

The firm believes that areas of improvement for ERHS include requiring grade change forms for each change and using performance data summary cards yearly.

At ERHS, the graduation rates began to lower from 2012 to 2013, then reversed and rose up to 91% in 2016.