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Superintendent Seeks Investigation into Quick Credits for Students
Winston Brooks has asked PED to look into how an Albuquerque charter school awards credits to APS students towards high school graduation.
May 17, 2012
Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks sent a letter to Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera on Wednesday, May 16, asking that the New Mexico Public Education Department look into the practices of Southwest Secondary Learning Center after APS officials learned that the school had granted an APS student a half a credit for a class he apparently completed in less than four days.
Brooks and other top APS administrators immediately contacted PED after learning that the Albuquerque High senior who was told he wouldn't graduate because he failed the second semester of English 12 was able to earn that credit from Southwest Secondary over the weekend.
The student and family had been told on several occasions during the semester that the student was at risk of not graduating. They were formally notified on Thursday, May 10, that the student failed his English class and would not graduate. The district confirmed that the student registered at Southwest Secondary the next day, on Friday, May 11. The student returned to Albuquerque High on Monday, May 14, with a transcript from Southwest Secondary saying he had earned the half a credit for English 12 with a grade of a C.
Albuquerque High, like other APS high schools, is required to accept credits from other accredited institutions such as Southwest Secondary.
When the superintendent found out what happened at AHS, his staff researched transcripts of high school students and learned that 289 APS students have earned 387 credits so far this school year from Southwest Secondary Learning Center.
"We are concerned about the ethics of granting a diploma to students who may not have met the academic standards required of all New Mexico high school graduates," Brooks wrote in his letter to the PED secretary.
Brooks and Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink have asked PED to conduct an immediate audit of Southwest Secondary's curriculum, policies and procedures to assure that the classes offered for credit recovery:
- Are legitimate
- Are aligned with the curriculum
- Are rigorous in content
- Prepare students for college
- Are taught by highly-qualified teachers and
- Meet the high standards promoted by the state Public Education Department.
The superintendent and chief academic officer also questioned the legitimacy of students moving back and forth between charter and comprehensive high schools in an effort to quickly earn credits. And they asked PED to look into whether Southwest Secondary is charging for credits and, if so, how the fees are being used.
"Because this issue has huge implications on graduation, our students and public education in New Mexico, we are asking for immediate guidance," Brooks wrote in the letter. "As superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools, I cannot ethically allow students to receive credits they have not earned. Therefore, I am exploring the possibility of denying credits from Southwest Secondary Learning Center in the future."