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Pressure to change grades.

Nearly a third of Chicago public high school teachers felt pressure to change grades for the better at the end of last school year, writes the Chicago SunTimes (8/29/09), and one in five reported actually giving in. Purportedly, teachers were told not to give special education students lower than a C. The Sun-Times interviewed 1,200 teachers and asked them why they felt they needed to raise their grades regardless of whether or not students had earned them. These are a few of their responses:

If I failed more than 30% of my students, I thought that the principal or the area would have me fired.

[My student was a] special needs student who had 80+ absences and the case manager insisted that the student should not fail.

Our principal has told us that no one who is in bilingual or special ed should receive lower than a C.

And who were the ones behind the pressure?

Special Ed staff.

The department chair, etc. It is not explicitly stated, but it is overtly implied.

Word of mouth that failure rate must be low.

Fellow faculty, advised me [of] the consequences of failing more than 30%.

Quite a few teachers, both high school and elementary, feel someone changed their grades after they were in without their approval. This is perhaps because the heat is on to reduce failure rates, particularly in high schools.

That's all this district cares about--how many kids are failing. Not how many kids are learning.

~Bonnie Kayser, Chicago math teacher

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Title Annotation:What They're Saying
Publication:Curriculum Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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