Yesterday, the Board of Education finally addressed the much talked about grading policy modification at Danbury High School.
Changes to the grading system at Danbury High School, made in part because of the number of missed school days this year, received a backlash with several teachers, parents, and students criticizing school administrators and calling the changes unfair.
From last night's public participation portion of the meeting, here's resident Sandy Steichen addressing the board about the grading problems at DHS.
Although several residents have expressed their displeasure with the modified grading policy, a majority of the board supported the decision made by DHS principal Robert Rossi and school officials.
Here's video of the board's discussion on the matter.
Based on the reaction of those in attendance to the comments made by members of the board, it's safe to say that some people were not satisfied with what they heard.
Could Principal Rossi handled the situation differently...ABSOLUTELY. As several members of the board mentioned, the communication in this matter was anything but acceptable. In fact, other schools in the area tackled their grading situation differently with an overall positive reaction from the public.
For instance, in Ridgefield, school officials simply canceled mid-terms testing after students voiced their concerns and I still don't understand why school officials in Danbury didn't do the same thing.
Also, the BOE as a whole should receive a failing grade when it comes to the way they addressed the concerns from the public. It's bad enough that the meeting was delayed because there weren't enough board members present to have a quorum, it seemed that the board was not interested in addressing some of the critics chief concerns.
For instance, no questions were raised by board members regarding the breakdown of communication between parents and school administrators...
Dale Steichen, a parent of a student at Danbury High School, spoke at last Wednesday's Board of Education meeting about concerns with mid-term examinations. He asked many questions of the board, and most of them have gone unanswered until now. His most pressing complaint was his suspicion of grade tampering.
A decision to adjust the weighting of grades at Danbury High School had not been passed onto parents, and Steichen wondered if grades could be changed to suit the needs of the school. Steichen wanted to know, “Is it fair to change the grading process without informing parents and students?”
Here's another concern that was not fully addressed by a member of the board:
“On Jan 31, a group of people including the Superintendent decided the test grades would only be changed to 20% if it helped the students,” said Rossi. If there were students that would be hurt by it, we would keep it at 10%. Students who failed or did not show up for the test would be given a 50%.”
Students have wondered what kind of message was being sent if grades could be changed to suit their needs.
Although the board went on and on about failing grades, the underline concern regarding the change in grade weight depending on the score a student received was not addressed.
Then finally, at no point was Principal Rossi present at the board meeting to address the matter and answer the public's concerns. In fact, it seemed like the members on the board were more interested in defending the actions made at DHS as opposed to asking questions on behalf of the member of the public who were critical of the grade modification.
Hopefully all parties involved learned a thing or two from this dust-up before charges of lack of integrity are directed towards Rossi and his team at the high school again...only time will tell.
UPDATE: News-Times Eileen Fitzgerald talked to Steichen last night and her comment regarding what transpired at the meeting echoes the points I raised in this write-up.
After the meeting, Steichen, who has a child in college and one in high school, said she's disappointed in the board's response and the lack of interest in the parents on the issue.
"I think it's a shame that teachers were put in the position they were in and students were put in the position. I don't think it's over. The communication remains the issue,'' she said. "I'm sad about how the board handled this. I would like to know when communication changes are in place so everyone knows what's going on from the start, not after the fact."
Glad to see that I wasn't the only person who walked away disappointed at the way the board handled the situation.
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?
HatCityBLOG: DHS modified grade policy sparks controversy
DANBURY PATCH: 'Grade Tampering' Alledged at DHS
NEWSTIMES: DHS grade policy creates unrest