In DC Schools, Grade-Tampering ‘May Have Occurred Undetected’

Published February 1, 2004

Before he resigned in late 2003, Washington, DC Superintendent Paul Vance ordered a review of high school records after teachers from one local high school complained the grades they had given to students–grades that might have kept some students from graduating–had been raised without their knowledge.

The report, conducted by accounting firm Gardiner, Kamya & Associates, P.C., found student records were “inconsistent, inaccurate, and unreliable” at all of DC’s 16 public high schools. The auditors concluded grade-tampering might be rampant–but so many records were missing it was difficult to determine the magnitude of the fraud.

As the Washington Post reported, “in a number of cases, there were disparities between the grades shown on the teachers’ forms and the grades printed on students’ report cards and listed on the transcripts sent to colleges.”

At one school, located in the northwest region of the nation’s capital, reviewers found that about half of their sample of 59 student files was missing teachers’ grading sheets. In more than one-third of those that did have complete files, grades recorded in the students’ records were higher than those actually given by their teachers.

A December 9 news release from District of Columbia Public Schools announced public school officials “planned to address the findings” and had “indicated their intention to expeditiously implement the recommendations,” which included “principal orientation and training” and “system-wide training for records maintenance staff.”

The news release reported the investigative team found no overall consistency across the District: Each DC school had different policies and procedures with respect to student grades and maintenance of student records.

The team also found “problems in OIT (the Office of Information Technology) with regards to tracking student grades, student records were disorganized, and conditions existed where tampering with student grades may have occurred undetected.”

However, the news release concluded, “there is no evidence of deliberate tampering.”


For more information …

The December 9, 2003 news release from the District of Columbia Public Schools, “DC Public Schools to Implement Recommendations from Review of Senior High School Student Records Reports,” is available at