Franklin alone among area schools with grading policy

Published 7:59 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

FRANKLIN—A minimum-60 grading practice, like the one instituted over the summer by administrators in Franklin City Public Schools, is not common among schools in Western Tidewater.

Neither Southampton County Schools nor Isle of Wight County Schools have such a policy, according to officials.

Teachers in Franklin schools have been instructed to give no student a grade lower than a 60 on assignments, quizzes and tests.

Franklin Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle told school board members during a work session Monday that Southampton is one of a few area divisions that gives a low grade of 50, but this is not accurate, according to Southampton County Schools’ Executive Director of Administration and Personnel Dr. Wayne K. Smith.

Smith said no school in Southampton County had a practice similar to one in Franklin. He also said such a practice has never even been considered.

Board member Edna King questioned the validity of Belle’s information regarding Southampton County’s grading practice, saying the information came from one teacher at Southampton Middle School.

Belle said many of the grading practices were instituted as unwritten rules.

When asked, Smith said that such a practice would require school board approval.

Members of the Franklin School Board were surprised during a meeting last month that the practice implemented by administrators during a summer retreat had not first been shared with board members.

Isle of Wight County schools also don’t have a no-zero grading policy, according to spokeswoman Katherine Goff.

“I am not aware of any impending plans to implement such a proposal, however, (IOW Superintendent) Mrs. (Katrise) Perera has stated that she believes students should be given opportunities to earn a grade, rather than receiving a possible “0” on an assignment or test,” Goff said.

I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth does have a similar policy to that of Franklin. Principal Lynn Briley has instituted a system where 50 is the lowest grade.

Portsmouth City Schools’ Spokesman Joseph L. Wiggins said the practice has been in place at the school for a couple of years and it is not in violation of any school board policy.

He said the program was originally put in place to help improve the school’s graduation rate since a portion of accreditation and state benchmarks is tied to graduation rate.

“The principal was trying to do something to help students stay in school and encourage them,” Wiggins said.

The Franklin City School Board will decide to either accept the administration’s new grading practice or reject it during a called meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, at City Hall.