The father of a Georgia high school student with severe mental disabilities says the As his son is earning in core subjects are a complete sham.
Wes DeWeese tells WSBTV his son Jared, an 18-year-old Gwinnett High School student with special needs, was born prematurely and has a mental capacity comparable to that of a 6-month-old child.
But his disabilities didn't keep Jared from earning course grades ranging from 90 to 100 in higher-level subjects like algebra, biology and world history. DeWeese believes those scores are misleading and meaningless -- given to Jared in order to improve his school's overall rating and image.
Gwinnett County Schools spokesperson Sloan Roach, however, quickly dismissed the allegations, telling WSBTV that grades for students with special needs follow state guidelines and are based on their participation in a specially modified curriculum. Still, DeWeese says the school is not doing his son any favors by giving Jared high scores in subjects he simply can't comprehend.
"My goal isn't to have him do Algebra I right now. My goal is to have him walk," DeWeese told WSBTV. "I would love to hear him say 'mom' or 'dad,' but I know that's probably never going to happen."
DeWeese's concerns aren't ungrounded. Teachers and administrators across subjects have crumbled under increasing pressure to demonstrate improved student performance. A report last month found that as many as one in five teachers in Kansas and neighboring states reports science grades on student report cards without actually teaching or testing students on the subject.
In Dallas, Field Elementary School, an "exemplary" school noted for academic achievement, was found to have only taught its third graders reading and math last year, as teachers fabricated scores for every student in other subjects, like social studies and science.
Field Elementary Principal Roslyn Carter directed teachers to focus on student excellence in reading in math -- the only subjects third graders are tested on for the state-wide Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Student performance on the standardized exam is factored into the formula that ranks schools.
In addition to performance pressures, the high cost of educating students with special needs is falling heavily on traditional public schools as their population of those students rises. Schools are finding themselves cutting corners and programs to compensate for the higher cost of special education. Special education facilities, equipment and specialists can cost schools four times more than general education.