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Board debates grading system

By Candace Sipos-csipos@nvdaily.com

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."



Its sad someone has to quit there job because of hostile situation but I work for WPS and I feel the same way, morale is low especially within the support staff, custodians, bus drivers, cafeterial workers. Its like they do not have to follow any rules. I was treated unfairly but what can you do?????????

Frederick County has a form for any one to fill out about anything. Then they at least have a board to review the input on the form. Winchester just does what they want and gets away with ruining peoples lives.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? OMG You can go to your supervisor or their supervisor, if you can't get anywhere with them and you think you have a legal complaint the EEOC is avaliable. This person said she was working in a hostile workplace, do you know that's illegal? Check it out call a union rep-get some information from them JOIN THEM. the only way this stuff is going to stop is to get the bullies out of that role of supervision. they are bullies too if you look up the meaning of the word. I know that everything in the WPS system is hush hush and the townspeople don't know about it but they need to know and TO GET INVOLVED. The other lady that said she got fired should have all the parents of the kids on her bus to call and flood the phone banks in complaint-that stuff happens everyday, I know, because my kid is in 3rd grade and i know several of the bus drivers myself.

I just finished entering/updating my grades following the new WPS guidelines. It really will provide parents/students with more information regarding student learning and mastery. I have been in the system (DMMS) as a teacher for 9 years. What we are being asked to do by CAO is really what effective teachers have been doing all along! Our focus is on learning and you know from your own personal experiences that we all learn in different ways and at different rates.

Regarding the disgruntled employees: no matter what organization you look at you will always find someone who is unhappy. If a job does not work out simply move on! I have not seen the negative environment described in the article.

I have had personal interaction with Ms. Whittington and the WPS transportation department and found them to be proactive and most helpful.

The thing is that school is supposed to prepare students for college, or if not that, at least life. Yes, learning the material is important to say the least, but fostering an environment of zero pressure and no deadlines is setting our students up for failure in the workforce...

Sorry, but I don't know of too many bosses that don't care when your work is completed, as long as it gets completed at some point...

This policy of no punishment for late work is another step toward the inmates running the asylum in Public Education... The attitude of, "If the kids don't follow the rules and guidelines, we'll just change the guidelines to where they can meet them." MUST end if Public Education is to move forward in our society.

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