It turns out that you don’t have to get good grades or even show up to class often to graduate from high school in New York.
Several students from New York City have spoken out about passing classes they know they should have failed and receiving high school diplomas they feel they didn’t earn.
Melissa Mejia, a senior at William Cullen Bryant High School, was surprised to find out she was due to receive her diploma in June when she was fully aware she hadn’t completed all of the credits to earn it, she admitted in a letter to the New York Post.
She explains that she rarely showed up for a Government class that was scheduled first period at 8am. Due to the early hour she only showed up a handful of times and never turned in any work. She even missed the final exam.
When inquiring about the final exam make up date she was told by her guidance counselor Mr. Ortiz that her teacher had already passed her — and then congratulated her.
The Government teacher, Andrea McHale, explains why she passed Mejia.
“It was not an ideal situation,” McHale told the Post. “If we don’t meet our academic goals, we are deemed failures as teachers. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on us as teachers.
According to Breanna Edwards from The Root, McHale feels that she did the right thing.
“Her attendance was extremely poor, but she was a very intelligent student,” McHale said. “There is a fairly consistent policy that if they pass their Regents, it is strongly suggested that they pass in the class,” the teacher said, adding that passing the exams “suggests some kind of readiness for college.”
Melissa Mejia is reportedly college-ready. She told the New York Post that she plans to attend Marymount Manhattan College in the fall to study Psychiatry and ultimately become a doctor, reports Susan Edelman and David Li.
This entire situation suggests that high schools are failing to hold their students accountable and that four-year college are admitting students who may not have done the appropriate work to earn a spot there.
“Most colleges in America are not selective, period,” said David Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. “A lot of schools are looking to fill seats. They’re looking for warm bodies.”
Since Mejia’s letter was published, the Department of Education has pledged to crack down on schools that abuse “credit recovery” in order to pass failing students. This practice allows students to take summer classes to make up a limit of three credits over their entire high school career. However, students at Mejia’s alma mater are taking up to nine credits in one summer.
Unfortunately, students have reported that they cheat during these make up classes that are provided by APEX Learning, reports Susan Edelman, Lorena Mongelli and Bruce Golding for the New York Post.
“I’m not going to lie — everyone cheats during the APEX online classes,” he said.