Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We failed students 'for years'. From CNN.

The University of North Carolina failed some of its students "for years" by allowing them to take classes that did not match its own academic standards, Chancellor Carol Folt has admitted.

The concession -- the strongest since UNC-Chapel Hill was caught up in a fake-class scandal two years ago -- comes just weeks after a CNN investigation found continuing problems at UNC and other public universities where some student-athletes could read only at an elementary school level.

Two years ago, it was exposed that UNC students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they did not attend and for which they did nothing beyond turning in a single paper. One professor has been indicted on fraud charges for being paid for a class he didn't teach.

The university has always maintained it was an isolated case, but Folt is now acknowledging a broader problem.

"We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue," Folt told UNC trustees last week.

"This, too, was wrong. And it has undermined our integrity and our reputation."

CNN has asked UNC Chapel Hill for the number of students who were specially admitted because they did not meet the usual academic standards and who majored in or took the classes now acknowledged as fake.

CNN investigated the issue of poor academics among student football and basketball players after a researcher at UNC revealed that some could not read well enough to follow news coverage about themselves or even read the word "Wisconsin."

The rest of the misery.


  1. Hell, I've been failing students for years. You get used to it.

    1. The thing is, you've been not failing them by failing them (if that makes sense), while Chapel Hill was failing them by passing them.

      I fear that the distinction between these two ways of failing students is increasingly lost on those who create metrics to measure the "success" (another loaded word) of higher ed.

    2. That sort of thing happened at where I used to teach.

      My last department head passed anybody he wanted. In one course he taught, a certain student didn't do much work and disappeared after the mid-point. Yup, she got 50%, and a number of her fellow students resented that.

      In one course I taught, I had 2 students who were in the grey area in which they failed the course but could get a conditional pass if they passed a supplemental exam. In order to write it, though, students had to ask for permission to do so with the instructor in question. One of them made arrangements to write it and I lent him one of my books so that he could study the material over the summer. When he came back, he told me that he didn't need the exam, after all.

      I had something similar happen with one of the last service courses I taught. About a third failed because they were used to getting easy marks from their departmental instructors and didn't do anything. By some miracle, many of those passed and went on to graduate. Not one of them ever contacted me to write a supplemental exam.

  2. From the CNN article:"... [UNC Provost] would investigate whether student-athletes were "clustering" in departments or classes that were supposed to have easy grades ..." I suppose it's too much to ask that the provost be concerned about any students taking classes with easy grades.