According to AEI scholar Nat Malkus, evidence from a new District of Columbia Public Schools report indicates public school improvement programs may not be as effective as they seem.
15% received credits through “credit-recovery” — abridged, easier-to-pass make-up classes for students who failed a course—even though the graduates never took the original required courses
1 in 5 [students] had excessive absences, with 1 in 10 missing at least half the school year
DCPS’ absence problems progressively worsened over at least 3 years
Suspicious late grade changes, typically altering failing grades to passing, were another issue; there were over 4,000 in one school
A 2017 Washington Teachers Union survey found that 6 in 10 DCPS high-school teachers reported school leaders “pressured” them into passing failing students, and 55% believed their school’s graduation rate was inaccurate.
Malkus also reports:
New York City liberally used credit-recovery courses to push its graduation rate up 24 points from 2005 to 2015.
Los Angeles used them to raise its projected graduation rate from 52% to 82% in just three months.