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Pasco teachers union decries "grade inflation" at some county schools



A move by some Pasco County high schools to create common grading practices in courses requiring state end-of-course exams has upset the United School Employees of Pasco.

USEP president Lynne Webb on Tuesday complained to the School Board that certain schools, which she would not name, have established grading criteria for courses including Algebra I, Geometry, Biology and U.S. History that amount to "grade inflation at its worst."

Parents received a letter explaining that students will be allowed to retake any summative assessments (such as tests and projects) for full credit as many times as necessary. All teachers will accept late work, with some deductions in score. And assignments will be graded on a new scale that looks like this:

90%-100% = 100% Mastered
70%-89% = 80% Proficient
50%-69% = 60% Partial Knowledge
0%-49% = 40% Lack of Mastery
No Effort = 0% No Effort

"Basically what this says is, if I am given a piece of paper and I answer one question and write my name on it, I am given 40 percent," Webb said.

She further objected on the grounds that the school-based guidelines do not follow the district's Pupil Progression Plan, which sets grading based on state law. In addition, Webb said, it violates longstanding practice that teachers have the right to weight classroom assignments and other performance as they see fit in assigning final student grades.

Teachers who have said they do not wish to follow the school guidelines have been told that's fine, she said, so long as they tell parents that they will be grading outside of the standards their school has set. She contended that such a requirement is out of line.

School Board members said they were unhappy with what they had heard and insisted that school grading conform to district policy. They asked staff to review the matter and fix it. 

Assistant superintendent John Mann stressed that the district policy will prevail, and said that perhaps some schools misinterpreted. Beth Brown, executive director for secondary schools, said she was unaware of the specific schools taking these actions. She planned to contact principals and learn more.

"We will let them know the board has asked us to take a look at grading practices, and go from there," said Brown, who also told the board that a move to common tests and grading criteria is gaining wider acceptance nationally.

Is this happening at your school? What has been the reaction so far?

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:55pm]


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