CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says an investigation into the district's credit recovery program revealed some students who participated in the program were still able to graduate, and they didn't fully master the content.
"I think we are in a better place than we were because we now have clear expectations across the system," Wilcox said. "We have a level of accountability for our employees because they know we are watching now."
Wilcox says WBTV's story on credit recovery programs accelerated the district to examine the issue further. The credit recovery program allows students who fail a class to attend the program and get a shorter version of that class in order to graduate on time.
The state allows students to take as many classes as possible in the recovery program. Critics argue the program helps inflate graduation rates and gives students an easy way to get a diploma.
CMS says out of the 9,005 graduates this year, 641 took a credit recovery course, 74 took four or more credit recovery courses, and 39 took five or more credit recovery courses.
"We've gone back to individually review the transcripts of those kids," Wilcox said. "We reviewed the work to make sure the kids were well served, and in a couple of places we found - no they weren't."
Now the school district is trying to do right by the students who have already received their diploma and still have not mastered a class.
"We've reached out to those families and said, 'hey, if we dropped the ball with your son or daughter we are ready to remediate. We need to help your young person,'" Wilcox said.
CMS says possible questionable behavior at the credit recovery program took place at several sites in CMS. The superintendent also says there is one situation where a teacher and a student have been reported and that the teacher will be disciplined.
"We have actually started a disciplinary process to say we can't have this here," Wilcox said. "We have one right now, I am not prepared to say whether or not there will be more."
CMS will now require training for administrators, lead counselors, lead teachers, and credit recovery facilitators. All schools offering credit recovery must also complete a plan to ensure success for students. The change also states all diagnostic and final exams must be taken in a supervised testing environment, and students who score below a 45 in a class are recommended to retake the entire course over.
"I am not here to say the state should tighten up the policy," Wilcox said, "But I am here to say that as a superintendent in Charlotte, we are going to tighten up how we access and use that policy."