Ed Salem, who recently resigned as principal of North High School, has been hired as a teacher at a new school in central Denver aimed at helping struggling students graduate. Salem's decision to leave North came just before the district asked state officials to investigate the school's credit recovery program, also for struggling students, in light of concerns raised in the Westword cover story, "Passing on Education."
Former credit recovery staff members told Westword that seniors in the credit recovery program, the goal of which is to help students make up classes they'd failed, were allowed to cheat on computer-generated tests in order to graduate last year -- and that they were encouraged by an administration desperate to improve graduation rates.
The former staffers also said the students learned to game the system on their own, using Google or other websites to look up answers or taking multiple-choice tests over and over again in order to figure out the answers by process of elimination.
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Salem defended the credit recovery program, but Denver Public Schools ultimately pledged to audit the transcripts of recent North graduates. "The district places the highest priority on the academic integrity of all of its programs," said Antwan Wilson, assistant superintendent for post-secondary readiness. "If we determine that any employee has compromised that integrity, we will act immediately."
Last month, Wilson wrote an editorial for Education News Colorado that vaguely revealed some of the findings. "To date," he wrote, "that investigation has determined at a minimum that there were serious deficiencies in following procedures and keeping records during the 2009-10 school year." Wilson said the investigation was ongoing.
But Salem won't be at North when it's completed. Next month, he'll start at the Denver Center for 21st Century Learning, DPS's newest "multiple pathways" school. According to DPS spokesman Mike Vaughn, Salem will be a teacher in the school's AVID program, whose aim is to "prepare students in the academic middle for four-year college eligibility." The school also plans to offer AP and GED courses, a hands-on project-based curriculum, intense math and English support -- and credit recovery.
More from our Education archives: "DPS school board election: Seven candidates, including one incumbent, vying for three seats."