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Academic Fraud at Richard Montgomery High School

Academic Fraud at Richard Montgomery High School

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04/11/2014

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Academic Fraud at Richard Montgomery High School
 My name is Brian Donlon and I am a teacher and the Elected FacultyRepresentative at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. I believethe leadership of Richard Montgomery H.S. is engaging in a practice thatis deceptive to students, parents, faculty, colleges/universities, the CollegeBoard, and IB/MYP officials. Also, this deceptive practice will most likely resultin the school improving its score on the Washington Post/Newsweek annualChallenge Index. MCPS and Richard Montgomery High School take great pridein delivering outstanding Advanced Placement courses that provide students withgreat rigor. Current practices at Richard Montgomery High School underminethe MCPS commitment to the Advanced Placement program and overall rigor. The school is awarding students credit (on their report cards/transcripts) for classes being Advanced Placement when theses classes in no way meet the APcriteria as set by the College Board. These classes being described as AP U.S.History do not follow the AP curriculum (they start in 1865 as opposed to 1492),do not use an AP approved textbook, do not write AP style essays, and do nothave a teacher who has submitted an AP course audit that has been approved.The master schedule handed out to teachers lists the classes as MYP U.S.History, but student schedules and report cards/transcripts list the classes as APU.S. History. About 60-70 students are being given AP credit for a class that inno way meets AP standards. This is an obvious attempt by the school leadershipto mislead and misdirect attention from an unethical and dishonest practice. There are true AP U.S. History classes at Richard Montgomery High Schoolthat teach the AP curriculum, use an approved AP textbook, and have trainedteachers who have been approved through the AP audit process. The studentsin these legitimate AP U.S. History classes took a semester exam based onreleased AP tests. It is challenging and meant to be a preview of the test theywill take in May. The fake AP U.S. History classes took a MCPS constructedsemester final that is significantly easier than the exam taken by the true APclasses. The County exam is the same exam taken by non-AP U.S. Historyclasses (regular and honors). I believe the actions by the Richard Montgomery leadership are misleadingto colleges and universities about the rigor of courses taken by students. Itundermines the integrity of Richard Montgomery as an educational institution.Listing the course as Advanced Placement on a report card communicates toparents that it is worth the financial investment to have their sons and daughterstake the AP exam in May. The teachers of these fake AP courses have toldthe students that even though their course started in 1865 they would be given
 
review materials because they learned the pre-1865 content in middle school. About 190-200 students have taken a legitimate AP U.S. History course andsat for the test over the last several years. An additional 60-70 students sittingfor the test would certainly raise Richard Montgomery's score on the annualChallenge Index. If schools can manipulate the names of their courses thiseasily it undermines the validity of the Challenge Index and Richard Montgomery/MCPS standing on this measure administered by the Washington Post. Also,it communicates to colleges and universities that students took a more rigorousprogram than they actually did.When the College Board began the requirement of having individual teacherssubmit AP audits, the stated purpose was to ensure some level of consistencyin course expectations and rigor across the nation. Did the College Board ever envision that an individual school would demonstrate such different levels of rigor for the same listed course? I called the College Board to ask for their guidance and assistance on this matter. They responded that they were not anenforcement organization. The College Board encouraged me to work with mylocal and state school boards and education departments. I find this hypocriticalsince they will collect close to $90 for each student who takes the AP test.  An intermediary met with MCPS central office officials (cluster communitysuperintendent and performance director) on December 16 to inform them of the situation and provide documentation. To the best of my knowledge MCPShas not investigated or pursued the issue in any serious manner. No students/teachers were interviewed. The second semester began on January 24.Richard Montgomery H.S. is running the same model for the second semester. Why did Richard Montgomery H.S. go down this path? As part of its IB magnetprogram Richard Montgomery also has an MYP program. The MYP program isunder review this year. MYP/IB officials made a site visit in late February. Lastspring less than twenty students signed up for MYP U.S. History. Enrollmentfor AP U.S. History was up by about 60-70 students. It seems as if parents andstudents thought their transcripts would look better if they had an AP courseas opposed to an MYP course. School leadership became concerned that nothaving MYP courses for an MYP review and site visit would be problematic.So they hatched this scheme to call the course MYP U.S. History on certaindocuments, but list the course as AP U.S. History on report cards/transcripts(even though the course does not teach AP curriculum or meet all other criteriaas established by the College Board). So Richard Montgomery leadership isnot only being dishonest with students, parents, faculty, colleges/universities,followers of the Challenge Index, but also MYP/IB officials. I had a student in my first semester Honors U.S. History course with an
 
interesting story. She started the school year in a true AP U.S. History course.She experienced difficulty and requested that she be moved to an honorssection. She did well in my class the rest of the semester. When secondsemester began she looked at her schedule that listed AP U.S. History. Shewent to her counselor and requested she be in Honors U.S. History since shehad great difficulty in AP. Her counselor told her it, “Don’t worry it will be fine.”She expressed concerns about how she could return to a class with a differentcurriculum after leaving AP U.S. History in late September. She reports that thecounselor told her, “It will be fine. It really isn’t a real AP course.” So a studentwho left an AP U.S. History course in September will still get credit on her reportcard/transcript for an AP course second semester. I am an eighteen-year veteran of MCPS. I am a National Board CertifiedTeacher who has taught AP courses for over a decade. I have servedthe College Board as an AP U.S. History grader. The conduct of RichardMontgomery High School officials in regards to this matter is dishonest andunethical on multiple levels. I request the following remedies; 1.The report cards/transcripts of the students in these classes be changedfrom Advanced Placement U.S. History to MYP U.S. History. Based onthe content covered in the course and the complete lack of the coursemeeting other AP criteria, this is consistent with the listed MCPS coursedescriptions. 2.Richard Montgomery High School and/or MCPS refund/reimbursethe students/parents who paid to take the AP U.S. History test but didnot receive adequate instruction and preparation that the course titlepromises. 

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