A low-performing Manhattan high school that was granted up to $6 million in extra funds to undergo a “transformation” has found the secret formula for success: Dumb down the requirements for students to pass.
At Washington Irving HS, near Union Square, administrators have approved new grading policies that give failing kids credits toward graduation.
The policies -- which one expert blasted as “approved cheating” -- are spelled out in documents obtained by The Post, including the 2011-12 staff handbook and minutes of a meeting last October between Principal Bernardo Ascona and assistant principals who make up the school’s Panel for Academic Success.
Under the rules:
* Students who get failing scores of 50 to 55 in class will “automatically” get 15 points for a passing 65 to 70 grade if they pass a Regents exam. Kids who score a minimum 65 on the Regents “should receive a passing grade” in the class. The same practice forced a Bronx principal to resign.
* A final grade of 60 to 64 “will be changed automatically” to a passing 65.
* Students who fail a class “will be assigned ... a work product not to exceed five pages” or “alternative project.” Livid teachers say pupils who cut class or blew off studying get a “packet” of work or take an online multiple-choice “credit recovery” program.
“The message is loud and clear: Don’t worry if you don’t attend school -- we’ll just give you an easy way to make up the credit,” a staffer said. “What does that say to the kids who actually do the class work, tests, projects and homework?”
David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College, said such policies make a mockery of “real learning and subject mastery.”
“This is simply a phony process for getting kids undeserved credits,” he said.
Ascona would not answer questions about the policies.
The city Department of Education said officials will review the school’s grading practices. The DOE is auditing 60 unnamed schools to look for lax scoring and credit-granting.