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Credit Controversy: TUSD teachers say failing seniors are graduating

Posted at 7:27 PM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 14:46:55-04
TUSD seniors are preparing this week to walk down the aisle at their high school graduations, but three teachers say some of their students should not be receiving diplomas.
They're blowing the whistle on a questionable practice that they say is designed to keep graduation rates up.
KGUN9 reported the Pueblo principal allegedly violated state law by changing a teacher's grades last year, but this time, teachers report failing seniors are graduating after taking online credit recovery courses, and they have no say on whether those students graduate.
The teachers have complained about this before, but are now coming forward -- though not on camera over fears of retaliation -- with documents.
Redacted information on a computer screenshot shows a senior in one of the teacher's classes failed two courses, but passed the credit recovery classes.
The program TUSD is using Edgenuity, and the teachers say it's effective when used properly.
They report that students are goofing off and failing core classes. High school officials step in to rescue them in the final weeks and push them into the online courses.Two or three weeks later, they pass and receive a semester's worth of credit that allows them to graduate on time. 
The teachers say students see the credit recovery program as a shortcut.
A snapshot of attendance records reveals the student who failed the two core classes had a slew of unexcused absences and tardies in most classes. The teacher says that snapshot was only over a period of one month and the student had been consistently absent or late throughout the year.
Another teacher failed several seniors because of excessive absences and not turning in assigned work. She reports one student had about 30 absences and 25 tardies in one semester. Tardies are recorded for entering a class at least 30 minutes late. The teachers say pushing failing seniors through in the final months is not fair to those students who have worked hard all year to earn their diplomas.
KGUN9 reached out to TUSD for an interview with the interim superintendent and received a statement from Abel Morado, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Leadership.
Tucson Unified School District utilizes credit recovery class options at our high schools.  In order to be considered a graduate of TUSD and to participate in the graduation ceremony, our high school seniors must satisfy all graduation requirements set forth by our Governing Board and the State of Arizona.  We are not allowed to speak publicly regarding particular student grades or their academic progress.  The administration and teachers at each of our high schools work hard to ensure seniors meet the necessary requirements to participate in our graduation ceremonies.
KGUN9 will continue to look into this issue and keep you updated.