PGCPS not monitoring data of students on track to graduate this school year

According to an open records request, Prince George's County Public Schools has stopped monitoring its graduation rate numbers, a marked deviation from past years where there was intense focus on boosting the numbers.

FOX 5 requested "any documents that detail how many students are on track to graduate from each high school," but was told those documents don't exist and schools are "choosing how to monitor their progress."

It comes after record-high graduation numbers in the county were called into question following a state audit that found students graduated without meeting requirements.

"This year, we are focusing more on the people behind the percentages," said Prince George's County Public Schools spokesperson John White. "We will know at the end of the year if we have succeeded."

When asked if there is any sense what the numbers will be, White reiterated that the central office is not looking at the numbers or percentages.

It is a shift from years past when projected graduation rates were tracked meticulously at every high school.

An open records request for documents from last year show every high school had a graduation rate goal, some as high as 95 percent. School principals received worksheets so they knew exactly how many students needed to graduate to meet the goal. Schools had to submit the number of students on track to graduate multiple times before graduation day to a data analyst in the deputy superintendent's office. According to emails obtained by FOX 5, the numbers were monitored closely. One email details a meeting to "strengthen" graduation predictions.

The end of last school year was when FOX 5 began investigating claims that grades and records were being changed to boost the graduation rate. A state audit later showed widespread policy violations when it came to grading and graduating students.

White said there is a different mindset this year when it comes to the graduation rate.

"There is definitely a difference," he said. "After the audit, we saw what was working, what was not working and where we need to make improvements."

FOX 5 visited Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro on Tuesday, a school that has had a graduation rate in the 90 percentile for at least the last three years.

Principal Eddie Scott said it was too early to say what the graduation rate could be in May.

"Ninety percent would be great. I'm really not thinking any percentage right now," Scott said. "It's really about making sure the students are learning the content, that students prepare for the upcoming PARCC assessments, that students are passing."

He said there is also an increased focus on making sure records are accurate.

"Making sure the teachers understand the grading policy, making sure grading policies are communicated not only with our teachers but also the parents and students," said Scott.

White said graduation numbers for the class of 2017-2018 will not be released until Jan. 2019 when the state releases graduation data for each county. Through open records requests, we anticipate finding out the numbers before that time.

FOX 5's coverage on the Prince George's County grade-fixing investigation:

EXCLUSIVE: Fired PGCPS guidance counselor believes he was made a scapegoat for grade-fixing scandal

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calls on Rushern Baker to fire PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Maryland State Board of Education to implement full-time employee to monitor PGCPS

PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell meets with Md. State Board of Education to discuss grade-fixing audit

Prince George's County school board members say emails show pressure to graduate students

Staff changes made at DuVal High School amid PGCPS grade-fixing probe

Rushern Baker, Prince George's County school leaders face tough questioning from Maryland lawmakers

Prince George's Co. Public Schools performed internal audit on student records, documents show

Hogan on grade-fixing probe: Prince George's County and PGCPS have 'refused to take it seriously'

Public weighs in on Prince George's County Public Schools grade-fixing allegations

Prince George's school board chair seeks whistleblower info from board members in grade-fixing audit

Prince George's Co. grade-fixing report says 5 pct of students in sample shouldn't have graduated

Final report for PGCPS grade-fixing probe submitted to Maryland State Board of Education

Whistleblower says employees worked to change students' records before grade-fixing investigation began

Maryland State Department of Education seeks info from public for PGCPS graduation rate probe

Investigation into allegations of fraud, grade-fixing in PGCPS to begin 'immediately'

State Board of Education votes to launch Prince George's County Public Schools grade-fixing probe

Gov. Larry Hogan calls for state investigation into alleged corruption in PGCPS

Md. Gov. Hogan explains why he requested probe on grade fixing allegations against PGCPS

PGCPS board members claim graduation rate 'fraudulently' elevated, call for state investigation

Staff members speak out about pressure from Prince George's Co. Public Schools to graduate students

State investigated grade changing in Prince George's County Public Schools earlier this year

Maxwell: PGCPS grade fixing allegations 'completely and utterly false'

Prince George's County schools CEO denies any fraudulent effort to inflate graduation rate

Rushern Baker says he stands by PGCPS Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Prince George's County NAACP asks county executive to not renew contract of Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Prince George's County Public Schools CEO meets with Md. lawmakers about concerning allegations

Prince George's Del. Walker hopes grade fixing allegations are false, but there's a lot of smoke

Sen. Muse condemns Prince George's County alleged grade fixing