New Rochelle Superintendent Prepares High School for Next Academic Fraud

Post-APEX “solution” to boosting academic progress is another loophole

New Rochelle Superintendent Prepares High School for Next Academic Fraud

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Will the New Rochelle Board of Education ever learn?

Or is it deliberate?

Just two short years after receiving a detailed investigation report documenting widespread academic fraud using the APEX Credit Recovery system and the firing of House Principal Shadia Alvarez, the Board sits idle as yet another administrator lays out the predicate for the same sort of fraud.

Let’s rewind first.

Alvarez, while complicit, was a scapegoat to provide cover for former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Osborne, former Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey and her direct boss.

Reggie Richardson was hired as Principal in July 2013. He came in promising a dramatic improvement in graduation rates, especially among minority students, and achieving “equity” in graduation rates. Miraculously, Richardson delivered on his promise.

He was named “Administrator of the Year” in 2017 by the Empire State Supervisor and Administrator’s Association. He was days away from a lucrative promotion to Assistant Superintendent.

It was all a sham.

Richardson hired Alvarez, a woman who was banned from working in the New York City School system after audits and investigations upheld allegations of time theft and credit card fraud — stealing over $100,000 from a struggling school in the Bronx. He paid her an extra $5,000 a year on top of her six-figure salary to sit in her office the day before graduation to falsify academic records so students who were not eligible to graduate would receive a high school diploma anyway.

Flash-forward just 3 years and here we are again.

In last week’s District Newsletter, Interim Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero announced a partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools that he claimed will increase the percentage of NRHS students that successfully complete at least one college-level course in high school.

That should have sent up a big red flag but school board members snoozed through their subsequent board meeting on Tuesday, February 9th without a word about it.

No fair-minded person could take issue with the laudable goal of more high school students taking more college level courses, more Black and Hispanic students doing so, or closing any gaps among racial and ethnic groups in taking advanced courses.

The issue, as always, is how success is measured.

Over the past 15 years a parade of New Rochelle administrators set ambitious and worthy goals with a deep flaw — the metrics used to measure success are entirely under the control of those same administrators.

The Board has been here before:

Phony data about closing the “achievement gap”

Isaac Young Math Department Chairman Struggles with Basic Calculations

My Reply to Dr. Korostoff’s Defense of Phony Test Data at Isaac E. Young Middle School

The “Making AYP” Charade: the “A” in AYP does NOT stand for ANNUAL but ADEQUATE

Phony data on Violence and Disruptive incidents

NRPD Calls Out New Rochelle High School Principal, More VADIR Lies from Don Conetta

NEWSFLASH FROM NYS COMPTROLLER: School Districts Have Been Falsifying Violent and Disruptive Incident Data (Duh!)

On New Rochelle School Security, A Certain Emperor And A Lack of Clothes (Chris Danielo lying about school security here)

Phony data about bullying

Barnard Principal Joanne Genovese Feb. 24, 2015 (PPT Presentation since removed)

Genovese presented phony data claiming that months after every employee in Barnard received Olweus Training to identify bullying the number of incidents declined dramatically when by all logic incidents should have increased.

Phony data on graduation rates

High School Graduation Rates Below State Requirements. Now what?

For 2009-10, At the end of the school year, there were 3,454 students at NRHS. 804 students started the school year; 775 were eligible to graduate in 2010; 596 graduated on time. So out of 775 students that started the school year only 596 graduated – that’s 77%. We don’t know what happened to 29 students who are statistically missing. In the Latino community the graduation rate was 61%.

New Rochelle Board of Education “Solves” Declining Minority Graduation Rates the Old Fashioned Way — Ignoring Them

Last March, the New York State Education Department published the statewide graduation rate for 2009. In New Rochelle just 66% of students earned even a “local” diploma including just 55% of black students and 51% of latino students. New Rochelle ranked third from the bottom, ahead of only Mount Vernon and Yonkers. Responding to the news at the time, New Rochelle Board of Education President Sara Richmond expressed her unhappiness and declared the board was “disappointed”.

New Rochelle Board of Ed Meets Tonight in a Further Attempt to Whitewash Collapsing Graduation Rates for Blacks and Latinos

New Rochelle – HS 55% of Black students graduated while 51% of Hispanic students graduated on time.

As First-Ever Certified Graduation Looms on June 22, Just 310 of 862 New Rochelle High School Students Have Met Criteria to Graduate as of June

Additional Notes from New Rochelle Board of Education Meeting on July 27, 2010 (Graduation Rate Discussion)

It was 2010 that the District embraced the concept of “Credit Recovery” where students who failed a course could receive full credit by writing a 3-page paper or attending a class for a few days at the end of the year. As a result, in the first year of a “certified graduation” and the elimination of “local diplomas” the graduation rate shot up instead of dropping.

Then Reggie arrived and with him the “Miracle on Clove Road”.

Graduation Rates Steadily Rising

Graduation rates at New Rochelle High School continue to climb according to Principal Reginald Richardson. He shared the good news with the board of education at their meeting on Sept. 27. 2015-2016 graduation rates for all students was 86 percent.

“We were able to make progress in the midst of these demographic trends thanks to great teaching and partnerships with community programs aimed at helping at-risk populations,” Richardson said. “All our kids have the ability to succeed. Some just need additional support.”

Richardson said while he’s pleased with the progress that’s been made, his goal is to attain a graduation rate of at least 90 percent.

Op-Ed: Improving Graduation Rates in New Rochelle High School

New Rochelle High School Principal Named ‘Administrator Of The Year’

NRHS Principal Reggie Richardson Honored By Pres. Obama

We need not document here how the Clove Road Miracle was exposed as a House of Cards built on widespread academic fraud including Richardson personally doctoring transcripts with “wite-out”.

The fraud continued even after Richardson left.

New Rochelle Board Piles on Interim High School Principal Over Deceptive Presentation on Graduation Rates

With that context let’s move on.

It is hardly new that administrators are talking about more minority students in advanced high school classes. Long before all but one board member (Relkin) was seated, NRHS Principal Don Conetta would come before the board year after year to claim he was closing the gap between white, black and brown students participating in AP/Honors classes. He achieved this by double and triple counting black and hispanic students and single counting white students so if one black student took 3 AP classes that black student was counted 3 times while a white student who took 3 AP classes was counted once.

Conetta made sure to never show the data for white students on the same slide as Black and Hispanic students because by using the same method of counting the total percentages would be far above 100% as white students are far more likely to take advanced courses.

Conetta perpetrated an obvious fraud and board members, hearing what they wanted to hear, never once questioned the obviously doctored data.

You would think the Board would not have forgotten APEX?

The final investigative report was delivered less than two years ago.

As documented above, Reggie Richardson boosted graduation rates, but they turned out to be a fraud. Shadia Alvarez was paid $5,000 a year to sit in her office, change grades and give students credit for courses they never took.

It is invariably the case that by not having an objective metric outside the control of school administrators the Board is laying the foundation for future academic fraud.

For the same reason teachers do not let students grade their own tests, school boards should not let administrators grade their own performance.

As the APEX fraud demonstrated, it is a lot easier to add a course or a grade to a transcript than do the heavy lifting of educating a child.

It will be quite easy for Interim Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero or his successor to increase the percentage of NRHS students that “successfully complete at least one college-level course in high school” just as Osborne, Parvey, Richardson and Alvarez did — simply record that a student was enrolled in an AP class and enter a passing grade into the transcript regardless of student performance or even whether they ever set foot in the classroom so the school can claim the student met the “successfully complete” standard.

The Board will cheer, the Woke will celebrate, the public satisfied so the budget passes…and the students? They will be no better educated than before.

It is hardly unprecedented, right?

It was going on for years in the recent past.

A hard metric is one that is outside the control of school administrators. A hard metric might be that a student is deemed to have met the “successfully complete” standard by taking the AP exam and scoring a 3 or better (the lowest level out of 5 where schools will accept an AP credit, elite schools require 4’s or even 5’s to accept an AP credit).

If the board feels 3 is too high a standard how about a 2, barely passing?

How about a 1, failing but the student took the exam?

There has been a certain romanticism about the AP Exam and its impact on minority students ever since the release of the 1988 film, Stand and Deliver based on the story of a East Los Angeles high school mathematics teacher, Jaime Escalante.

In real life, the progress in preparing students for AP Calculus was arduous and took years and involved the development of programs at feeder schools to prepare students to take the challenging AP Calculus Exam.

What Dr. Marrero is proposing and the Board is buying into is the Hollywood dreamland version of an AP Miracle where in 2 years otherwise failing minority students can spend summer school studying remedial math and score 4’s and 5’s, along the way, sticking it to the bad guys, portrayed as white supremacists at the College Board who do not believe low-income Hispanic youngsters can succeed on their test.

The reality-land version, is still impressive but highlights the complex and assiduous work that went into achieving results.

The film is accurate in that students in Escalante’s class had to retake the test, and all who retook the test passed. The movie gives the impression that the incident occurred in the second year Escalante was teaching, after students from his first year took a summer session for the calculus prerequisites. In fact, Escalante first began teaching at Garfield High School in 1974 and taught his first AP Calculus course in 1978 with a group of 14 students, and it was in 1982 that the exam incident occurred. In the first year (1978), only five students remained in the course at the end of the year, only two of whom passed the AP Calculus exam.

Reason stated, “Unlike the students in the movie, the real Garfield students required years of solid preparation before they could take calculus. So Escalante established a program at East Los Angeles College where students could take those classes in intensive seven-week summer sessions. Escalante and [principal Henry] Gradillas were also instrumental in getting the feeder schools to offer algebra in the eighth and ninth grades.

“In 1987, 27% of all Mexican Americans who scored 3 or higher on the AP Calculus exam were students at Garfield High.

Escalante himself described the film as “90% truth, 10% drama”.

He said that several points were left out of the film.

He pointed out that no student who did not know multiplication tables or fractions was ever taught calculus in a single year. Also, he suffered inflammation of the gall bladder, not a heart attack.

Ten of the 1982 students signed waivers to allow the College Board to show their exams to Jay Mathews, the author of Escalante: The Best Teacher in America. Mathews found that nine of them had made “identical silly mistakes” on free response question 6. Mathews heard from two of the students that during the exam, a piece of paper had been passed around with that flawed solution. Twelve students, including the nine with the identical mistakes, retook the exam, and most of them received the top 4 and 5 scores. Mathews concluded that nine of the students did cheat, but they knew the material and did not need to.

There are no shortcuts or miracles in taking disadvantaged minority students from struggling with multiplication tables in Middle School to scoring a 5 on the AP Calculus Exam. You need brilliant, dedicated teachers, supportive administrators, both at the high school and the two feeder schools and parents committed to supporting the education of their children — all working for years to make incremental progress.

Not a bottle of wite-out and a few ethically flexible administrators.

Equal Opportunity Schools is an organization that operates on the theory that any student benefits from taking an AP Course even if they fail the course and the AP Exam or never even take the AP Exam.  Their theory is based on data provide by the College Board which owns the AP Courses and AP Exam and has actively promoted the dubious proposition that failing a course makes for a more successful student.

What few seem to understand or care about is that Equal Opportunity Schools is funded by the College Board which is pumping money into a non-profit that is effectively a sales consultant for the College Board.

This is the same College Board under fire for years for selling culturally biased, racially biased SAT Exams, so much so that many leading colleges and universities no longer require SAT Exam scores as part of a college application.

Somehow, the people who created the “racist” SAT Exam on one hand are offering salvation to minority students on the other through AP Courses and AP Exams.

It is, of course, all utter nonsense.

But just as the New Rochelle Board of Education demands the impossible (low performing students transformed into candidates for Rhodes Scholarships) desperate administrators will stand and deliver the phony performance data as they always do.

The Board has given Dr. Marrero his loophole (metrics entirely within his power to manipulate) and rest assured he and future administrators will drive a Mack truck through it.

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