Email Exposes Plot by City High School to ‘Fix’ Failing Test Scores

Susan Edelman, New York Post, July 12, 2015

A smoking-gun memo proves that a Queens high school improperly used its own teachers to change Regents test scores in a bid to boost its graduation numbers–despite repeated denials by city officials.

“It’s important that this is done quickly so that students will be able to graduate in June if more points are found,” Christine Jordan, an assistant principal at Richmond Hill High School, emailed staff.

In April, Jordan wrote that she was assembling a team of three teachers to look at 12 Regents English exams “in need of re-scoring.” The exams were given in January.

The email, which whistle-blowers sent to The Post, belies the city Department of Education’s emphatic denial that any Richmond Hill teachers had a hand in re-scoring the Regents exams. Teachers are forbidden to score exams from their own schools.

It also shows that Richmond Hill and other schools re-score exams not just because someone suspects an error, as state rules allow. Administrators hunt for a few extra points on exams that fall just below the passing 65, a banned tactic called “scrubbing.”

A Richmond Hill teacher said the team looked at exams scored at 62, just below passing, to find extra points that might have been “overlooked.”

DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said five January Regents ­exams at the school were changed to higher scores, but called it “blatantly false” and “impossible” that any Richmond Hill teachers were involved. She insisted it was done by an outside committee.

When asked specifically about Jordan’s memo, Kaye’s denials stopped. She said the “allegation has been reported” to the special commissioner of investigation for city schools.

“We take this matter seriously and are committed to holding administrators and teachers ‎to the highest standards of integrity,” she said.

The new probe comes the same week that the principal of Dewey High School in Brooklyn was booted in a massive grade-fixing scandal. It also comes after the state Education Department slapped the city DOE for failing to report changing five Regents exams from failing to passing at Automotive High School in Brooklyn, as The Post reported. Sources said Automotive teachers were involved in re-scoring, which the DOE also denied.

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[Editor’s Note: Richmond Hill High School is 46 percent Hispanic, 33 percent Asian 17 percent black, and 3 percent white.]

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