8 SCS schools changed grades to improve graduation rates, Audit finds

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new audit shows rampant issues across Shelby County when it comes to changing grades in high schools.

A 200-page report identified eight schools that are under investigation.

Trezevant High School was one of the first schools to be identified as a grade-changing offender. Details of the grade changing came forward when the school's principal resigned and wrote a six-page letter of complaints against Shelby County Schools.

Dixon Hughes Goodman Law Firm audited the school system and found grade changing was happening in at least eight schools.

"The evidence suggests this was done with the intent to increase the graduation rate," the law firm's report read.

Kirby High School had 582 failing grades changed to passing grades between 2012 and 2016, according to the audit.

Kirby graduate Rachelle Alexander said the allegations of grade changing are shocking. She said she never heard of grades being changed while she was in school.

The audit found multiple Shelby County Schools high schools, that had grade change rates as high as 10 times the state average.

"You're setting your kids up for life. If they can't do it [now], when they get older they will not be able to do it either," Alexander said.

Shelby County Schools released the following statement about what it plans to do to address the grade changing happening at schools in the district:

"Shelby County Schools is committed to ensuring students' academic records are always handled with the highest levels of integrity in our schools. The final investigative report included an initial review of grading practices conducted by Dixon Hughes Goodman mentioning several schools with a higher rate of grade changes than others in the District. Recognizing there are many instances in which grading changes may be appropriate and necessary, we believe it's important to further examine the nature of grading changes at the schools that belong to SCS. We have engaged Dixon Hughes Goodman in this effort and will utilize any other resources that may be available to the District. We've added tighter controls for all schools since this investigation started last fall, including additional training and support for staff. However, we look forward to learning more in the coming weeks so we can provide further clarity to our families and stakeholders."

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