Grade-changing at a Chicago public school: FOX Chicago News has another example of a problem with public education in Chicago.
One teacher's story shows how the final grades he gave some students turned out not to be final at all.
When you earn an F from a teacher, you get an F on your report card.
But a former faculty member at Team Englewood High School said he saw F’s magically turn into D’s, in order to help students graduate.
"There's just too much pressure on the principals to be successful on paper,” he said. “That they're willing to do whatever it takes to pass these students."
He doesn't want to be identified because he's looking for another teaching job. So we'll call him Terry.
The former faculty member spells out the grade-changing allegation as part of a discrimination complaint filed against the Chicago Board of Education.
Terry was hired to develop a business curriculum at Team Englewood High School in 2009, by Principal Peggy Korellis-Byrd.
He said it was clear from the start teachers were feeling the heat.
"Teachers are reprimanded if too many students are getting D's or F’s in their classes,” Terry said. "They're written up - pressured by the administration… They're upset about it, but they need their paychecks."
Even though terry did not have an active Illinois teaching certificate, he was told to teach a business class to a handful of students.
One final grade report he handed in to the school's assistant principal showed several of the students failed.
"A lot of them did nothing, so they earned an F,” Terry said. “I turned in an F."
Terry said he was stunned when a friend, who was a guidance counselor at the school, asked why he passed two of the students who Terry had said were getting F's.
We blurred their names to protect their identities, but you can clearly see the students got D's on their report cards.
“I was outraged - I mean absolutely outraged. I've taught for 20 years,” Terry said. “If a student doesn't earn a passing grade I’m going to give them an F. For an administrator to turn around and change what I gave them, or more specifically what they earned, is wrong."
Principal Peggy Korellis-Byrd confirmed Terry failed the students. But she said one day after he handed the grade sheet to the assistant principal, Terry went back and told the assistant principal change the grades to D's because the students had completed make-up work.
Terry said that conversation never happened.
When FOX Chicago called the assistant principal, now working as a principal at another school, he said he didn't want to get involved and hung up the phone.
“These students are not having to earn their graduation requirements. They're just being pushed along,” Terry said. “So are they prepared for college or a job when they graduate? Not even close."
Principal Korellis-Byrd strongly denies Terry's allegations, saying by phone: "It's preposterous. I'm stunned. We would never change a student's grade like this. I care deeply about educating kids. I have dedicated my life to it."
It's not the first time grade changing allegations have surfaced in the Chicago public schools.
Last year CPS's Inspector General found the grades of former Simeon basketball star Derrick Rose and some teammates had been changed to help keep them eligible.
In a 2009 survey of more than a thousand teachers by the Chicago Teachers Union, one in three reported feeling pressured to change student's grades. One in five actually did change grades, and others believed their grades were changed by administrators after they were turned in.
Jackson potter Chicago teachers union
“We found that many schools are facing these pressures,” CTU’s Jackson Potter said. “Teachers are being told by administrators, by district officials, they have to change these grades in order for the school to look better on paper.”
FOX Chicago talked to another former Team Englewood teacher who did not want to go on camera.
He said he, too, had grades changed after they were handed in.
But we also heard from many current teachers at the school who said they have never been pressured to change a student's grade, and applauded the hard work of the principal and other administrators.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Public Schools sayid they are investigating the allegations.