Southampton schools will not revise grading policy

Published 11:42 am Friday, March 13, 2015

Less than a week after the director of the instruction at Southampton County Public Schools told The Tidewater News that the district has had discussions about a revised grading policy, the school board announced that no such dialogue has taken place this year.

“At no point this year has the board talked about a new grading policy,” school board chairman Dr. Deborah Goodwyn said at Monday’s board meeting. “Unless a school board member adds it to the agenda, we won’t be having any discussions.”

One concerned constituent also used the public comment period to say that school superintendent Dr. Alvera J. Parrish “has assured (him) that it is not going to happen.” It should be noted that the board cannot respond to public comments, but Parrish nodded as the gentleman made said remarks.

This means that Southampton will continue to operate on a traditional seven-point grading scale, allowing for a student to fail an assignment, unlike several other schools in the region. Some Hampton Roads districts, including Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach, advise teachers to refrain from assigning zeros to students. They believe that “schools should adopt grading procedures that minimize the impact of a zero on a student’s nine-week grade.”

Locally, Franklin City School administrators implemented a policy in 2011 that instructed teachers to give no student a grade lower than a 60 on assignments, quizzes and tests. The Franklin School Board nixed the practice just months after its implementation, however, stating that they didn’t want it to have a negative impact on students’ futures and that “children need to learn to fail.”

Director of Instruction Rodney Brown said last week that the Southampton School Board had “talked about [a revision of the grading policy] at regular meetings.” He could not be reached for comment following Goodwyn’s statement.

Brown also said that nothing of the sort was imminent because the board must first do its research to weigh the pros and the cons.