The spokesman for St. Cloud State President Earl Potter III isn’t the telling the truth in this article. Here’s what he said that’s verifiably false:

Allegations into wrongdoing started with a few professors expressing concerns about student grades being altered after the initial grades posted by the professors were changed. In addressing this concern at a meet and confirm meeting conducted amongst university professors and administration, Hammer said the cause for concern primarily dealt with late drops and withdrawals.

Hammer said professors had felt they were not being included in the process of altering student grades, from failing, to withdrawals after the withdrawal deadline for the semester. Hammer had said the Provost office had requested research into the process of how late drops and withdrawals were handled by the university.

Professors are most upset with students’ grades inexplicably disappearing from their transcripts. I reported in this Examiner exclusive how this all got started. Here’s what I wrote in that exclusive:

Prof. Tamara Leenay, a chemistry professor at St. Cloud State, was looking through her list of students when she spotted the name of a student in her organic chemistry class. She recognized the student’s name because he’d taken (and failed) her organic chemistry class before.

By going through her records, Dr. Leenay was able to verify that the student had taken her organic chemistry class before, that he’d completed all the course work, taken the mid-term and final exams and that he’d failed the class.

Dr. Leenay then asked other professors if this student had taken organic chemistry with any of them. The student had, failing that class, too.

In fact, discussions I’ve had with multiple professors have focused almost exclusively on grades disappearing from students’ transcripts after they’d submitted their final grade. According to these Meet & Confer minutes, something more than late drops and withdrawals is happening:

The other piece of it is that it’s difficult to do some things like helping with student success, some things like doing accurate assessment if people disappear from our records and we don’t have that information in our records anymore or if we learn for example that, and this is kind of an odd example I suppose, you don’t know that a student has taken a course three times because there is no record of it and the student is in there for the fourth time and you’re trying to figure out a way to help that student be successful and yet you’re blindsided by this lack of information.

Think about this sentence:

“You don’t know that a student has taken a course three times because there is no record of it and the student is in there for the fourth time and you’re trying to figure out a way to help that student be successful and yet you’re blindsided by this lack of information.”

What are the odds of a student taking the same class 3 times and each of those times was a late drop or withdrawal? What are the odds that student getting their participation in those classes deleted from their transcript? I’m betting those odds to be exceptionally tiny.

Remember that this professor didn’t say that they didn’t know because the grade had been changed to a W, the code for withdrawals. The professor said that “there is no record of it.” When I talk with professors about the transcripts, they refer to these disappearing grades as ‘poofs’. That’s when the only record of a student’s participation is in a professor’s hardcopy records.

Finally, it isn’t credible for Mr. Hammer to make a statement on this transcript fiasco because nobody has talked with Dr. Leenay about what she spotted. This is proof that it’s impossible to find what you refuse to look for.

One Response to “The lies keep coming”

  • Jethro says:

    “We are confident in the work we’ve been doing in the administration and records and registration,” Hammer said. The means for students to request a change in their transcript for extenuating circumstances, Hammer said, reinforces the goals of the university, student achievement.

    When did a grade “poof” become an extenuating circumstance? I also find it odd that administration has not contacted Professor Leeney to conduct an investigation. Apparently, Hammer is confident in the administration’s incompetence.

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