Audit shows some student grades changed from failing to passing in Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new audit released by the state shows that some school districts in the Empire State have been changing students’ grades from fail to pass, including one in the Capital Region.

An audit released by the New York State Comptroller’s Office states schools in six districts across the state are involved in grade changes, including the Saratoga School District.

The audit says in more them 60 percent of cases, there was no documentation to support the grade changes, which even caused some students to go from failing a class to passing it.

It’s a practice Superintendent Michael Piccirillo said dates back to the 1970s and one the district ended since the audit.

“If a student received a 63.5 to a 64.4, then it was rounded up to a 65,” he said.

The real problems came when auditors found there were no paper trails for the grade change requests. This would mean that anyone with enough access to the system could enter any grades they wanted, though Piccirillo said that is not happening.

He said many of the requests are made verbally.

“Nobody is changing grades arbitrarily,” he said. “They’re being done by teachers. They’re being requested by teachers, and they’re actually being approved by teachers at the end of the year.”

With nearly 200 people with permission to change grades, the auditors became even more concerned. Piccirillo said the amount of people who have access isn’t that high.

“One person could have seven or eight permissions within the system, but they’re counted eight times,” he said.

Even though the school is now required to submit an updated policy within 90 days, Piccirillo wants people in the district to know there’s nothing to be worried about.

“Parents and students should understand that the grade changing that was going on is legitimate grade changing,” he said. “That there’s nothing to be concerned about in regards to that.”

Piccirillo said the district has already responded to the comptroller’s recommendations and will submit its new plan within 90 days.

Following the audit, there will be policy changes made statewide to make sure grade changes aren’t a problem in the future in any other districts.

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