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
    School
    , 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
    problem.

    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.

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