College moving forward after full report released

Flagler College

Photo by Zach Thomas

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

Photo by Zach Thomas

As the results of the misreporting scandal that wrought havoc when it came to light in February become available, the college is finally ready to move on.

The report, conducted by law firm McGuireWoods and totaling 36 pages, goes into detail concerning the size and scope of the misreporting, as well as recommended changes. The investigation into the misreporting had been ongoing since Feb. 18.

Acknowledging the impacts, including the 223 students who were placed in higher-level classes based on inflated SAT and ACT scores, was the first step, but putting into place long-term solutions is also a priority.

“It’s important for us to not necessarily erase this, but learn from it,” President William Abare Jr. said. “We want to understand why it happened, how it happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The long-term solutions begin with preventing one person from having as much unrestrained power as Marc Williar, the Vice President of Enrollment Management who resigned after it was discovered that he had inflated the vast majority of students’ SAT and ACT scores, GPAs and class rankings as early as 2004.

According to the report, Williar altered 93.2 percent of incoming students’ ACT and SAT scores in 2012 and 92.1 percent in 2013. Most of the scores were increased by around 50 to 100 points.

More concerning than the fact that he changed the scores was the amount of time it seemingly went unnoticed. Although coworkers had some suspicions, the report states that the lack of oversight and the overwhelming amount of access Williar had to Jenzabar, the data management system that stores a host of information for the school, intensified the problem.

Combatting the problem will require locking down the system, as well as transitioning from manually entering student data, which the report deemed “archaic”, to a system where SAT and ACT scores are electronically entered.

Although employees will still be able to access the data, it will be limited – and if the data is compromised, “alarm bells” will notify other members of the administration.

“Anytime that access is violated, anytime that there’s a change, red flags are going to go up. There will be scrutiny about what’s being done. If a change needs to be made, more than one individual is going to be involved in making it,” Abare said. “It’s not going to be a system where someone can make 200 to 300 changes in a weekend.”

The 155 active students who were placed in the wrong class have been notified and will be given the option to change low or failing grades to a “Pass” or expunge the class from their record altogether. That only applies, however, to students who did not receive an A or B in the class.

In the long term, however, Abare said the college will concentrate on fixing the gaps in oversight and improving the college’s image through building up trust again and focusing on the accomplishments of students and alumni.

Abare said there isn’t, however, an overnight fix – the implemented changes will take some time and the college will have to be extremely discerning with data released to U.S. News and World Report and accrediting bodies.

“Any time you have a bad experience or you experience some difficulty or you overcome some challenges, you’ve got to learn from it,” Abare said. “As I have talked with faculty, parents, members of our staff, we have come together as a family and as a college community. I’m very confident that we’re going to emerge from this as a stronger and better institution.”

For more information, read the full report here.

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