DC’s interim schools chancellor accused of not knowing details of graduation rates

WASHINGTON — The head of D.C. Public Schools received an earful during a council hearing Thursday as she faced tough questions about plummeting graduation rates in high schools across the city.

Council member David Grosso, who chairs the education committee, accused interim schools chancellor Amanda Alexander of not knowing the facts.

“When you don’t give us the data that we request and when you don’t work with us to prepare for these hearings, you are disrespecting the public,” Grosso said.

“I am absolutely tired of it.”

Grosso asked Alexander to detail the number of high school seniors who are not on track to graduate and how many of them are falling behind due to attendance issues.

Alexander was not able to answer.

“We are still working to get that number for you. It’s really difficult to disaggregate so promptly because students are failing for multiple reasons,” she said.

Grosso fired back.

“You’re sitting in front of me and you’re not prepared,” he said.

“This is crazy. You should know off the top of your head.”

According to a report released from the school system late last month, just 46 percent of seniors are on track to graduate this year.

Last year, the graduation rate was 73 percent before a scandal broke showing students were receiving diplomas despite missing too many classes.

A study, commissioned by the school system, found that more than 1 in 3 students who graduated from D.C. public high schools in 2017 had help from violations of system policy.

It found that 937 out of 2,758 graduates had excessive absences from school or from credit-recovery courses, or they took those courses, which are supposed to be for students who have failed a class, “concurrently or in place of regular instruction.” (2)

The study was commissioned in December in response to reports that many students at Ballou High School had graduated without meeting requirements.

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