Second Audit Would Help Ensure Preuss’ Integrity

(Illustration by Michael Capparelli/Guardian)

It’s not often that the views of two opposing groups share
significant crossover, let alone converge on a point salient to both parties.

However, such is the case following the audit of UCSD’s Preuss
, where both allies and
detractors of ex-principal Doris Alvarez are advocating a second, more
exhaustive look into the charter school’s high-profile grade change scandal.

With so much at stake — including the future of the school’s
students, which hinges upon the school’s reputation — it’s difficult to construct
a convincing argument as to why administrators should not commission additional
investigations into the matter.

Based on overwhelming evidence collected by campus auditors,
it’s unlikely that any further statistical analysis — a method advocated by
five UCSD professors — will do much to minimize the impact of the 427 grades
found to be altered. While they are correct in stating that the analyzed grades
did not constitute a random sample of all marks at the school, it appears — in
light of testimony by former registrar’s assistant Julianne Singer — that the
grade changes themselves were not haphazard, and mostly targeted toward
Advanced Placement class grades.

The group’s argument seems centered around the possibility
that the changes amounted to chance error, although powerful evidence presented
by Singer and others suggests this is little more than wishful thinking. Even
if no other Preuss grades are found to be inaccurate, it would not lessen the
severity of the situation as a whole, or make the administration’s proactive
response any less of a necessity.

Nonetheless, UCSD’s recent commitment to administrative
transparency at Preuss is reason enough why the school should consider granting
the professors’ request.

The campus will be unable to recover from the scandal so
long as any questions are left unanswered, and advocating further analysis
should not pose any risk if the audit is as sound as university officials
claim. In the scientific community, the best theories are the ones that survive
rigorous peer review, and an issue so hotly contested could only benefit from
an ultimate consensus about what happened and what should be done to remedy the

By having the school’s operations investigated by an
external consulting firm, UCSD is making appropriate steps toward resolution
and closure.

Allowing other parties to examine the evidence and reach
their own conclusions — be they statisticians or members of the Academic Senate
— would only demonstrate UCSD’s renewed push for enhanced accountability.