Sunday, May 9, 2010
Mary Prendergast, Principal of High School for Youth and Community Development, Is Investigated For Grade Inflation
Principal Mary Prendergast under investigation for
grade inflation after teacher survey scandal
BY Rachel Monohan, DAILY NEWS WRITER, Sunday, May 9th 2010
A Brooklyn principal caught on tape encouraging teachers to give their school good marks on a city survey also faces a possible grade-inflation scandal.
Mary Prendergast of the High School for Youth and Community Development is under investigation "for testing allegations," city Education Department spokesman Danny Kanner confirmed.
In documents provided to the Daily News, a handwritten note instructs teachers to "review" January 2009 English Regents exams of 20 students who nearly passed but didn't. A separate spreadsheet appears to show improvements in eight of the students' grades.
A call to Prendergast, whom The News wrote about after she allegedly tried to sway teachers' responses to a school satisfaction survey, was not immediately
A Brookyln principal caught on tape encouraging teachers to give their school good marks on a city survey also faces a possible grade-inflation scandal.
LINK To Comments
Principals feeling pressure to get A's putting pressure on parents, teachers to give them
BY Rachel Monahan, DAILY NEWS WRITER, Wednesday, May 5th 2010
Leslie Colbert, (l) mother of a child who attends P.S. 38, says the allegations that Principal Yolanda Ramirez (r) abused teachers after she received poor marks on an evaluation, are shocking
These principals may be the real grade-grubbers.
Across the city, principals are under investigation for pressuring parents, students or teachers into giving them good reviews on the secret surveys that gauge school satisfaction.
Just a month after the Daily News obtained a recording of a Brooklyn principal threatening teachers for giving her shoddy reviews, another tape has emerged of a principal instructing teachers on the importance of giving high marks.
"If you give us low grades and that attacks our progress report grade, the school's going to close," Principal Mary Prendergast of the High School for Youth and Community Development says in a matter-of-fact tone.
She also notes that she considers the survey to be "stupid, quite frankly," and tells her teacher to "politically be smart."
"We live in a toxic political environment in the Department of Education," she explains. "I'm not putting this in a memo because these are the kind of things that can be misinterpreted."
Prendergast isn't alone. Yolanda Ramirez, principal of Public School 38 in Brooklyn, was caught on tape last year berating her teachers for giving her lousy reviews.
And education officials confirm they are investigating other cases of principals giving instructions on the surveys, which account for 10% of the A-to-F grades given to schools and are used to determine bonuses.
Contacted by The News, Prendergast acknowledges she's looking to improve her new small school's scores and that the threat of closure is a real one her teachers are generally aware of. But, she said, she wasn't trying to pressure her underlings.
"How does a principal advocate for doing the best we can without making it look like we're skewing the results?" she asked.
Education Department officials said they don't think there's "widespread" pressure on the surveys, noting 24% of teachers last year said they didn't "trust the principal at his or her word."
"We will not tolerate any attempt to manipulate survey results," said Danny Kanner, an Education Department spokesman, before bashing teachers for making the recordings.
But at PS 34 in Queens, a current and a former teacher charged their principal freaked out after they gave her poor reviews two years back, then tried to convince them that better reviews would mean a bigger bonus. Principal Pauline Shakespeare denied the charge through a secretary.
At PS 345 in Brooklyn, teachers charged the principal tried to scare them with the prospect of closure - but backed off after the school's report card grade rose. Principal Wanda Holt denied the allegations before hanging up on The News.