UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) CEO Kevin Maxwell today will present the Board of Education with a detailed action plan in response to a recent Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) audit of high school graduation rates. The school system’s plan is designed to enhance accuracy and accountability in grading, while ensuring the academic integrity of the school system’s graduation certification process.
“We took the audit findings and recommendations very seriously and have begun making improvements to ensure a Prince George’s diploma accurately represents our students’ academic achievements,” said Dr. Maxwell. “There is no more serious matter than preparing children to graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful after high school.”
PGCPS will submit its response to the independent performance audit to MSDE this week.
Several changes are underway to strengthen academic integrity. New processes for monitoring excessive grade changes and weekly grade input reports are being implemented, including a review of the number of grades entered per week in the gradebook, missing report card grades and excessive absences. The school system also will hire an independent third party to help with implementation of the audit recommendations and to conduct a random sampling of student grades and graduation requirements at select high schools annually. In January, PGCPS will announce a series of community conversations designed to provide more information about the audit response.
The process of identifying and correcting errors in grading and graduation certification began in June when Dr. Maxwell and a majority of the Board of Education submitted a formal request to the State Superintendent of Schools for an independent performance audit of PGCPS graduation rates. MSDE notified the school system in September about the contract award to Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services to conduct the audit. Findings were released Nov. 3.
The school system began making changes before the release of the audit findings. Prior to the start of the school year, PGCPS implemented stricter controls on access to student records, limited the number of staff members authorized to make grade changes and eliminated the use of Quarterly Learning Modules (QLMs) as an option for credit recovery. Future Multiple Pathways to Success offerings for credit recovery and original credit are under review. Grade and transcript managers attended mandatory training, and professional school counselors received additional time to update all student records for graduation certification.
PGCPS is in the process of upgrading technology, including the SchoolMAX student information system, moving some practices online to ensure accuracy and accountability, and strengthening the graduation certification process. The audit also identified the need to improve communication, which has been increased to provide more information to staff and parents through various means.