By Candace Siposfirstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- A new grading system has some city School Board members asking questions.
Based on a review process that started this school year at John Handley High School and Daniel Morgan Middle School, some administrators wondered whether there could be a better way to communicate the degree to which pupils are actually achieving. Many teachers then started to organize around "achievement strands," according to a memo written by Director of Instruction Lynda Hickey.
Instead of merely listing categorical grades, such as tests, quizzes and projects, this new system would allow teachers to list how pupils do in those categories but based on certain covered topics. On student progress reports, teachers will have two separate lists of feedback -- academic achievement and work study habits. There is no penalty for turning in late work, although it allows teachers to note that pupil regularly turns in items after deadline.
School Board members Sharion Poston and Vincent Di Benedetto were concerned with this idea, however.
At Monday night's School Board meeting, Poston noted that pupils who normally turn assignments in on time might begin to think, "I can do the same quality but do it next week. Why do I have to turn it in on time?"
Board Vice-Chairman John Bishop, however, backed up the new process.
"I do think it's important for us to remember that our first mission is the learning," he said.
Bishop was concerned with one topic, however -- pupil-to-teacher ratio.
"We've got quite a bit less experience and not that many more teachers and a lot more students," he said, noting that the average number of years of experience for city teachers has decreased from 15 to nine in recent years.
Also, WPS has about 150 more students this year compared to this time last year, and there are only six more teachers.
Earlier in the meeting, two former city school bus drivers were not happy.
Debi Hagerman said she was fired because a child got off her bus without her knowledge, but another driver "let a child off the bus a block and a half away from her home but he's still working there," she added.
She provided Superintendent Rick Leonard with seven pages listing "egregious errors" performed by Sherry Whittington, coordinator of the transportation department. Another driver, E. Marie Sobien, said she quit because she was being "harassed," and said she will be going to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that she was working in a "hostile work environment."
"The end of this month, I'm homeless," Sobien said. "... I quit so that I would not lose my sanity ...I would not work for this school system again."