GRADING POLICY UNDER FIRE
BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON
KENT — A group of Kent Center School parents waited two-and-a-half hours to express their anger and frustration to the Kent Board of Education on Monday evening about the Region 1 school district’s new grading policy.
The group of 10 parents and community members had to wait until the end of Monday night’s board meeting for the public comment portion. A group of teachers also attended.
Parent Melissa Woodin said she has watched her daughter struggle this year because of the policy, which, among other things, replaced Ds and Fs with NYPs (not yet proficient).
“Her level of learning has started to fade away and it’s truly heartbreaking,” Woodin said, adding her daughter is stressed out, feels like only the tests matter and worries about how much she is able to memorize.
Kent Center School implemented the new system at the beginning of the current school year. It specifies that there will be no zeros given See GRADING , Page 4B “Her level of learning has started to fade away and it’s truly heartbreaking ... I'm asking the board to put a stop to this grading practice and save our school.”
— Melissa Woodin, parent of a student attending Kent Center School
Parent Amy Raskind, left, talks to the Kent Board of Education about her frustrations with the new grading policy at Kent Center School on Monday evening. She was one of 10 parents who attended and shared their concerns with the board.
LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
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for academic grades; “work habits will not be included as part of academic grades”; “achievement grades will be based on summative assessments” and “retakes will be offered for summative assessments that do not meet the standard (below 70 percent).”
The intent of the system was to stop allowing students to fail and to get them to keep trying until they passed every class.
Parents have told the board there is no consistency from the teachers in their administration of the new policy.
Woodin warned that many parents have given up and are putting their students in private school next year. She suggested asking how many transcript requests have been submitted by parents this year.
“I’m asking the board to put a stop to this grading practice and save our school,” she said.
Tammy Lang, a parent of two KCS students, said she believes the new grading policy was instituted to fulfill “some agenda from the top.”
“The region’s administration has an agenda,” she said of the Region 1 school district. “Whatever it is, the focus has not been on our children. They have learned nothing this year.”
Parent Toni Presti said she was impressed by a presentation earlier in the meeting by two teachers, Linda Miller and Ellen Tarabara, who spoke about a session on standards- based grading they attended in January.
But Presti added, “I’m not seeing this being implemented at Kent Center School.”
SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN Martin Lindenmayer promised the discussion would continue and that a forum would be scheduled. He reminded parents the board opted for a pilot program at KCS this year, rather than implementing what the rest of the schools in Region 1 were doing. The Kent school board unanimously agreed last Sept. 6 to “delay implementation of grading practices for Kent Center School to allow full understanding and implementation for the 2017-2018 school year.”
However, pressure from Region 1 administrators — as well as technological constraints from the online portal that lists grades, Power-School — has not allowed KCS to be that much different from the rest of the region, according to parents.
Board member CiCi Nielsen said she fears that while the board was trying to help with the delay, it created confusion because KCS teachers are not all doing the same thing this year.
“I don’t know that I foresaw that confusion,” Nielsen said. “I apologize for that.”
Parents pointed out that a year is a long time in the life of a student.
PARENT DONNA WILKINS
said she attended Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village and thrived there, but she’s already decided that her son will go to a private school next year.
“I won’t make him deal with this,” she said. “It breaks my heart that this is happening.”
Wilkins said she sent multiple emails to Region 1 Superintendent Pamela Vogel and was told to stop contacting her. Vogel said Wilkins needed to follow the chain of communication.
However, Principal Florence Budge objected.
“It was written to you,” Budge told Vogel. “It should have gone to you.”
Parent Amy Raskind pleaded with the board and administrators to communicate with the parents. She shared her frustration with the lack of understanding about the grading system this year and the lack of consistency in its implementation.
“I think a program shouldn’t be rolled out until a program is pretty cohesive in a community,” Raskind said. “That was a big problem in my opinion.”
Contact Lynn Mellis Worthington at email@example.com or on Twitter @lynnmellw.