Controvery Over New Grading System

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(Memphis) There’s controversy over how the state is grading kids in previously failing schools it’s taken over from the county.

Starting this year, Frayser Elementary and Middle schools are making what used to be considered a B an A.

Some parents say that is lowering standards, but the Achievement School District says it’s a misunderstanding.

Many remember a time when an A was an A.

“I came from a school where that was 95 to 100 percent,” said Bert Smythe, who went to private school as a kid.

But grading will be little different for students at five Frayser schools under the ASD.

Students will now need a 90 percent to get an A, only a 71 percent to get a B and just a 59 percent to get a C.

In most public schools, that would be considered failing, but the ASD says that’s now considered a “high basic” grade.

“What we’ve done is move from a traditional grading system to a standards based grading system,” said Ash Solar, the executive director of Achievement Schools.

Solar says the new system is not letting students off easy like parents might assume.

“It’s not easier to get an A.  In fact, it’s a lot harder to get an A.”

He says the grades are now all based on achievement when it comes to state standards and readiness for the TCAP at the end of the year.

That means an A will have no reflection on homework completion or class participation, which normally might bring a student’s grade up.

An A will mean that the student will likely get an excellent score when it’s test time.

“When people hear A they think of a number, but we want them thinking about…here are the standards, here is what my child needs to be able to do.  They are ‘advanced’, they are ‘proficient’ or they are ‘below basic,’” said Solar.

The 2,000 or so students now under this new grading system are going to be seeing their first report card on October 25.

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