SCHOOL Group seeks to amend district's grading policy

The committee's recommendations should be ready by early 2005.
AUSTINTOWN -- As a Ruby Court resident continues to raise questions about his daughter's grades, a committee of school officials and local residents is working to revise the district's grading policy.
Ann Marie Hiznay, the district's director of instruction, said the committee began meeting in the spring to discuss clearing up some of the ambiguity in the grading policy.
The committee includes parents, teachers, and administrators representing the high school, middle schools and elementary schools, Hiznay said.
The grading policy does not mandate what numerical percentage grades pupils must earn in a class in order to receive an A, B, C, D or F.
Instead, it recommends that teachers give an F to pupils who earn a numerical grade of less than 63 percent, while between 64 percent and 73 percent is a D, between 74percent and 83 percent is a C, 84 percent to 93 percent is a B, and 94 percent or higher is an A.
Hiznay said school officials received calls last spring from some parents wondering why all teachers weren't following the same grading policy. Parents would ask why a 92 percent would earn their child an A in one class and a B in another, she said.
Justifying grades
The policy also states that teachers should be able to justify their grades. Ruby Court resident Fred Hingel has said he believes the board has violated that section of the policy when it comes to his daughter, who graduated from Fitch High School last spring.
Hingel has said in written statements that his daughter received a B in two classes her senior year when, based on his calculations, she should have been given an A, and that her teachers have not justified their grades to him.
He has spoken at school board meetings, sent letters to newspapers and called talk radio to press his case.
Hingel also has encouraged residents to vote against the five-year, 3.9-mill levy the school board has placed on the November ballot.
In both classes, however, the teachers went against the grading recommendations by lowering the percentage standard for an A below 94 percent, a move that favored Hingel's daughter.
Superintendent Stan Watson said the teachers have met with Hingel, the Fitch High School principal and the school board and justified the grades.
Watson also stressed that he is prevented from discussing specifics about Hingel's claims by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which does not allow school officials to release a pupil's grades to the public without a waiver from a parent.
Hingel has not signed a waiver for his daughter's grades, Watson said.
"I can't discuss this with you or anybody," he said.
Hiznay also noted that the formation of the committee looking at the grading policy has nothing to do with Hingel's claims. The committee has surveyed district teachers about changes they would like to make to the policy, and it expects to examine what colleges look at when it comes to grades as well as the grading policies of other districts, she said.
Hiznay said she expects the committee to make recommendations to the school board in early 2005 so that any changes to the policy can be in place for the 2005-06 school year.

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