Margaretville School Board must act

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To The Editor:
I am incredulous, but once again I must address the Margaretville Central School Board of Education on the issue of grading.

I was called on July 3 and told that my son’s chemistry final average was to be lowered by two points because the teacher used a final exam rather than the Regents in the calculation.
Clearly every check and balance that was supposed to be in place to eliminate grade problems failed.

I went to see Superintendant Albanese and inquired how last year, when I fought for eight months for the points my son honestly earned, I was told that those whose grades were too high could not have them changed. The policy was they would not ‘take back points.’ How does this not apply now? According to Albanese, last year they could not figure out where the problem was and the teachers had no records of the calculations. This year they know the problem, so the kids are out of luck. Really? So if teachers simply claim no idea how they created grades, students may have any grade. But in this case the policy changes.

When I pressed, Albanese told me that it didn’t matter it was mandated by the state that the Regents grade be used in the calculation of a final average. In fact, he told me that if they did not, my son would not be credited with a Regents’ course. That is a flat out lie.

I spoke to Lauren Genito of the NYS Office of Assessment of the Board of Regents who told me there was no such policy. While the board recommends using the Regents as a final assessment, schools had discretion in choosing both what grade to use as a final and how to calculate the final grade for the class. I then spoke to Barbara Wallis, Bureau Chief of the State Education Department, who told me not only was that totally incorrect but they ‘frown’ on schools using Regents grades as 20 percent of a student’s grade. And that in fact, less than 50 percent of schools in the state use the Regents in this manner. To receive a Regents diploma a student was required to amass 22 credits and to receive a passing grade on the required Regents exams. Mr. Albanese was not truthful in his explanation.

To add insult to injury, I have found that students’ ability to achieve on the chemistry regents is an ongoing issue. My son, who had a 98 in the class, received a poor grade. He was aghast, horrified and wondered how he could have been so unprepared until he found out that he had the third highest grade in a class of 10. I would guess more than half failed. When I approached a tutor so that he could prepare for the January regents, I found out the one student who did well was tutored all year because his mother knew of the ongoing issue.

I understand that teachers are humans who sometimes struggle, especially when they are teaching outside their certification, but this administration had an obligation to warn students and parents that they might be in peril.

Albanese said they were aware of the issues but had put policies in place that they had ‘hoped’ would address the issue. You hung 10 students out on a hope! If you were aware, why were periodic assessments not done to ensure student readiness? Why was the MCS community kept in the dark? Students should have been made aware that class performance did not indicate preparedness. The administration has an obligation to prepare students for every test. They did not. I told Mr. Albanese, and I will tell you, he and Mrs. Taylor, as educators, should be ashamed of themselves.
My son will retake the test, he will achieve and he has learned something from this; he cannot count on this school to fully prepare him nor will they be upfront and honest with their students. But is that the lesson you really want him to learn?

Further, my son’s academic record will bear the black mark of a less than successful Regents as will his lowered GPA. I ask, no as a parent I demand, that this board hold the administration accountable for their inability to issue correct grades, for their lack of oversight for a struggling teacher and for being dishonest when faced with their inadequacies. How should they be held accountable? First, their year-end assessment, just like my son’s, should bear a big black mark, a demerit, based on the fact that they have done a poor job at their assigned duties. Further, my son saw a five percent reduction in his year-end grade directly attributable to their inept management. So I think both Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Albanese should forfeit five percent of their salary in solidarity with the students they have failed.

If the board will not hold the administration accountable, we, the parents and taxpayers, will hold you accountable.

Doris Warner,
Margaretville