WASHINGTON – Following a graduation scandal, the percentage of D.C. public school students getting their diplomas on time is down noticeably this year.
Last year, the school system said 73 percent of its students graduated on time. It was later discovered that a third of the students were allowed to graduate despite violations of school policy, such as excessive unexcused absences.
At a public oversight roundtable Wednesday, interim Schools Chancellor Amanda Alexander said that for this year, the number of students graduating on time currently sits at 59 percent, although that number could rise to 63 percent as students complete summer programs.
“The decrease can be attributed to attendance – of course we did enforce the policy rather aggressively this year – and also just student performance, in their ability to demonstrate mastery of the coursework,” Alexander said.
She added that going forward the school system is working “to ensure clarity for students, families and school staff around the expectations and requirements related to graduation.”
The school system also will stop automatically reducing grades because of absences and instead give early warning notifications to students.
Last week, the D.C. Council passed an emergency resolution stating that unexcused absences alone – between August and April of this year – would not disqualify a student from graduating this year or from being promoted to the next grade.
Supporters say it is not fair that the school system went from not enforcing the attendance policy to adopting a zero tolerance stance. The measure still needs the mayor’s signature, but her office has voiced opposition to the measure.