Best and worst from this week’s headlines

GW recently implemented a new and improved online learning management system, but having recently been exposed for fabricating their suspension rates, maybe it’s the D.C. Public Schools that need a management system.

Here’s the best and worst news from around campus and the District this week.

Thumbs up

Faculty and staff looking to access online training materials will now have less hoops to jump through.

Talent@GW-Learning, an online learning management system, launched Tuesday. The program is supposed to act as a one-stop shop, giving faculty and staff access to all training materials, online courses and instructional videos in one place.

With increased centralization, Talent@GW-Learning marks an improvement from the existing SkillsPort system. Previously, employees and managers had to use disconnected systems and outdated print forms if they wanted access to these services, so it’s refreshing to see GW overhauling their system to make it easier for faculty and staff to utilize these services. The new program also allows different departments to create their own training process to manage new employees or to provide career information to existing faculty.

It’s a plus for the University too – officials will now be able to efficiently track which staff trainings are complete for more accurate employment data, compared to before when the system was less centralized.

The program should only continue to become more helpful. The University plans to launch five other Talent@GW modules over the next two years, including recruiting, succession management and performance management. It looks like GW is committed to continuing to improve and expand its online learning system.

Thumbs down

D.C. public high school’s suspension rates may not have improved as much as we think.

DCPS says the number of suspensions have dropped 40 percent from 2015 to 2016. But The Washington Post found this week that at least seven of the city’s 18 high schools have kicked students out of school for misbehaving, but didn’t categorize them as suspensions and even marked some cases as present.

In the last two years, these seven schools have sent daily messages to staff members with a list of students who have misbehaved and were not permitted to enter the building. Yet, only a fraction of those cases were officially recorded as suspensions in the attendance records. Some of these barred students were marked as present, while others were marked as an unexcused absence or attending an “in-school activity.”

School officials stand by the current suspension numbers, saying they’ve moved towards “restorative justice” practices where misbehaving students stay in school and are coached to work through their conflicts, according to The Post. But education advocates still question them.

If DCPS has been trying to mislead people with their suspension rates, they’ve been committing fraud. With schools nationwide facing pressure to decrease discipline through punishment, it’s disheartening that instead of trying to re-evaluate how to discipline students, DPCS has been resorting to corrupt methods like manipulating their suspension numbers.

Such methods not only hurt DCPS’ image now that they’ve been exposed, but it is also damaging to students. In at least one case, a suspended student has been marked as an unexcused absent so many times she was summoned to truancy court.

Hopefully, DCPS will turn to more legitimate means to decrease their suspension rates.

Irene Ly, a senior majoring in psychology, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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