Lexington 1

Hundreds protest Lexington 1’s new grading system

cclick@thestate.comOctober 15, 2013 

ISTOCK

Several hundred Lexington 1 parents mobilized Tuesday night to protest a new grading policy that relies on major test grades only and diminishes homework, quizzes and class participation.

The seven-board listened as parents and students, many highly emotional and some in tears, spoke of the stress and anxiety spawned by the Grading for Learning system that has been implemented in all of the middle schools and partially in the high schools.

“I’m telling you we are not happy; your teachers are not happy,” said Kimberly Stammire-Cockrell, a parent of two students who created a Facebook page, “End ‘Grading for Learning,’” that had garnered 761 “likes” and dozens of comments by Tuesday night.

Under the system, students may take retests multiple times to improve their grades, but they are not given credit for other work that in the past have been traditional elements of the system.

Advocates say the system helps students master course material, but parents who gathered Tuesday were adamant in their disagreement, saying the system is unfair and rewards scholastic laziness.

Students, including honor-roll students, are dropping one and two letter grades in courses, parents said.

“All kids don’t take tests well,” said Brenda Alston of West Columbia. “They have test anxiety.”

She said her daughter had dropped two letter grades in math because of the new system. “She has been an honor-roll student,” Alston said. “Now I’m scared she is going to give up.”

Alston was echoed by parent after parent who related stories of anxious evenings as students drilled for retests and ignored homework assignments because those assignments don’t count.

“I’m a Christian, and I hate to say this, but this has been hell,” said Kenny Larimore of Lexington. “It’s not only taxing for the parents, it’s taxing for the teachers.”

The system is based on the work of education consultant Ken O’Conner, who calls himself the “Grade Doctor.” But Stammire-Cockrell said there are no published scholarly articles that verify the success of his theory.

Parents implored the board to abolish the system. They had support from state Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, who wrote a letter to the board urging a second look at the system.

More than 30 people signed up to speak at the school board meeting, which went on into the late evening Tuesday.

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