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NOLA School Admin’s Book-Cooking, “Fix Your Gradebook” Email

October 26, 2019

New Orleans-based Abramson Sci Academy advertises itself as follows:

Abramson Sci Academy is one of the highest performing open-enrollment high schools in New Orleans. More than 98% of Sci Academy’s seniors received acceptances to college. College acceptances include LSU, Dillard, Bard College, Notre Dame, University of Louisiana Lafayette, Tulane, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Loyola, Morehouse, Xavier, and Amherst.

On October 22, 2019, WWL-TV reported on an email sent by Abramson Sci Academy assistant principal, Whitney Omosefe, to certain teachers whose class grades did not reflect preferred percentage outcomes.

The subject line of the email read, “Fix your gradebook.”

I wanted to read the email and teacher responses for myself, and on October 24, 2019, I submitted a public records request to Abramson Sci Academy. However, I have not received even an acknoledgement from the records custodian, so I searched articles on the incident to see if any linked to the actual emails. The closest I came was the aforesaid WWL-TV article, which includes a video with images of the October 03, 2019, email, sent by Omosefe to numerous teachers.

My goal in seeking the actual email was to offer the full text to my readers.

Below is Omosefe’s complete, “fix your gradebook” email, trascribed using images offered in the WWL-TV video, also linked below.

Date: 10/3/19 7:47PM
Re: fix your gradebook

Hey, Ms. —-

Because the quarter is almost over, I’m taking a close look at gradebook averages to ensure that teachers remember and meet their gradebook goals. The goal is that 25% of scholars in your course should have an A, 40% should have a B, 25% should have a C, and <10% should have a D/F.

(This is followed by a graphic breakdown by course of percentage of students receiving specific letter grades for courses taught by the teacher addressed in the email.)

There’s not much time left to improve our course averages and while we don’t want to “cook the books,” we do want to ensure that students do have limited college access as the result of our ongoing learning around grading best practices. That said, here’s what you do for those sections with low averages…

  • Go into your gradebook and find any assignments where more than 33% of students got a D/F. Give those assignments a weight of zero. They will still appear in the gradebook but they will not hurt students’ grades. The rationale for this move is that if a third of your students were unsuccessful on an assignment, then you did not teach them the content, study skills, or mindsets they needed for success on that assignment. It’s too late to fix that teaching-error now, so we can make up for it by giving those assignments a weight of zero.
  • Identify three high leverage assignments that you will allow students to make up or resubmit. Host a special office hours when kids can come receive support on and complete those specific assignments only. Give students a copy of their progress report for your class so they know whether they should attend this special office hours.
  • Find one or two assignments that almost (i.e. 90%) everyone earned a B or better%. Give those assignments a higher weight (i.e. two or four).

Please act by end of day 9.2 [presumably the second day of the ninth week, which is almost the end of the grading period, and which, according to the school’s calendar, is likely October 08, 2019]. Taking these actions should get you closer to your gradebook goal. Let me know if you have any questions or need help.

Whitney Omosefe
Assistant Prinicpal of Academics
Abramson Sci Academy, a Collegiate Academies School

Pressure on teachers and schools to produce certain grade outcomes is a direct result of the test-score-based, corporate-styled, education “reform.”

All-charter New Orleans is supposed to be an exemplar of how test-score-centric ed reform produces stellar educational outcomes. Certainly marvelous college acceptance rates demonstrates exemplary ed-reform fidelity.

Nevertheless, Omosefe’s book-cooking push (let’s call it what it is) shows that would-be exemplar to be a lie. Her “fix” relies upon blaming teachers and wholly excusing students from their own responsibility for their learning.

I am pleased to note that at least one teacher confronted Omosefe; the WWL-TV piece also includes that teacher’s response to Omosefe’s email “fix”:

With all due respect, I’m not fixing grades to reflect effort that was not put forth. It is not ethical and it enables a lack of responsibility. I give scholars multiple opportunities to make up work, including assessments. They have known all quarter and have been reminded weekly and to attend office hours.

Many of the scholars whose grades are low do not do homework or have attendance problems. Fixing grades will not help that, or encourage them to do it next quarter.

I am happy to talk about this at school, but my grading policy is fair.

I will, however, continue to make myself available at office hours.

Kudos to this teacher for a dignified response to a demeaning, ethically-twisted situation.

As for Omosefe:

Abramson Sci Academy offers no information on its faculty and staff other than its principal, Rhonda Dale.

Omosefe has no Louisiana teaching certificate on file. However, Whitney Omosefe Ajibade is listed among Princeton’s Class of 2009 (see here also).

In 2010-11, Omosefe (Ajibade) taught third grade at Stratton Elementary in Madison, Tennessee. Omosefe holds a Tennessee teaching certificate in ESL and Spanish (2010-20). According to Omosefe’s TN school page, she offers the following bio info:

I am originally from Chicago, but I have spent time living other places as well (that’s how I learned to speak French and Spanish).  Regarding laughing: I laugh a lot during my favorite pastimes (marathon training and playing volleyball with friends).  Regarding learning: I got my bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and my master’s degree at Lipscomb University here in Nashville.

In 2012-13, Omosefe is listed as a Spanish teacher with Leadership Public Schools in Richmond, California. Omosefe did have a California teaching certificate in ESL and Spanish (2011-16).

At some point, Omosefe moved to Louisiana and became an assistant principal, and she decided to prod teachers to cook their gradebooks.

Omosefe may not have started her career with such intentions, but that is where she is now.

((Shaking head.))

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  1. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Yikes! As corrupt practices go, this one gets an A+! It isn’t the case of an administrator pushing back on a grade for one student so they can play sports or to get influential parents to leave the administrator alone. This is wholesale fraud.

  2. This is nothing new. For many years now St. Mary Parish school teachers are not allowed to give a grade of less than 60%, even if the student earned a lower grade!

  3. Philly teacher permalink

    This administrator, her principal, and those who are above them should be fired immediately and charged with crimes. This is sickening. I bet the courageous teacher who spoke up for herself, and her students, got in a world of trouble.

  4. Well done (again)!

    Sent from my iPhone


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