Some parents upset over Mass. school's new grading system

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January 2, 2013, 10:21 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, North Andover, Mass.) - "We're changing a very fundamental process and I always equate this to changing the tires on a car while it's moving," said middle school parent Tom Holland.
Parents of some North Andover Middle School students are frustrated.

The school has changed grading from traditional A's, B's, C's, D's and F's to a "standards-based" points system where four is advanced, three is proficient, two needs improvement, and one means no progress has been made.
"When you align your reporting system with the type of standard performance system that's similar to MCAS, you typically will get better results with the students," said North Andover Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hutchinson.
Dr. Hutchinson says he believes it will help identify areas where students need to work harder and teachers need to focus their attention.
But he says he understands it's a huge shift for students and parents.
"It's wonderful to say your student is an A student, but what does it really mean?" Dr. Hutchinson said, "I think what most parents want to know is a realistic view of where their child is."
After one trimester, some parents have come around to the standards-based grading system.
Middle school parent Rene Heron said, "I actually like it, I think that it's a good way to get a sense of what the kids are learning."
While others still need some convincing.
"It's one through four, no one can get a four because it shows that you give them a four and there's no room for improvement," said middle school parent Jay Phelan.
"These kids, they get one shot at a grade and for them to be demotivated and to be so confused when this thing was poorly implemented is not really fair to them," Holland said.
North Andover School Committee Chair Laurie Burzlaff says she thinks the district should have done a better job of explaining the new system to parents and students before it went into effect. But she says they're now working on that, starting with an open meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the North Andover High School Auditorium.
"We don't want to just say this is it and whether you like it or not, that doesn't do us any good, we want parents to understand, we want them to be comfortable with it," Burzlaff said.

Parents of students throughout the district will be watching closely because the eventual plan is to change the grading district-wide.

Tags: massachusetts, Alysha Palumbo, parents, North Andover, North Andover Middle School, North Andover School District, traditional grading system, standards based points system, Kevin Hutchinson, Laurie Burzlaff
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