A proposed Altoona Area School District policy deemed by school board President Ryan Beers as a "dumbing down" of student expectations will be revised, he said Tuesday.
The district's "Student Evaluation" policy elicited seething disapproval from Beers during last month's board meeting, and Altoona graduate Jesse Ickes asked the board on Tuesday whether the policy, which exempts students from receiving percentage grades lower than 50 percent on report cards for three marking periods, was an effort to inflate graduation rates under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
District administrators, including Assistant Superintendent Mary Lou Ray, said the policy was established well before the law was passed.
Under the policy, the lowest percentage grade to be recorded on the report card in the first three marking periods is 50 percent. During the fourth marking period, if a student earned lower than 50 percent, that grade would be recorded on the report card.
Students have opportunities to retake tests to lift their grade if they earned a grade lower than 50 percent during the first three marking periods.
The policy is a burden to teachers who have to do extra work, and it sends a bad message to students, Beers said last month.
Administrators have defended the policy, which is technically an "administrative regulation," requiring board approval.
"We may have students not doing well, but if they see the light - if they decide to make a turnaround after a bad marking period, then they know there is nothing they can do. So, then we have behavioral problems or a dropout rate that is our concern," junior high Principal Lori Mangan said.
There are students who have a tenuous grasp on receiving an education because of family dysfunction, high school Assistant Principal Dave Bufalini said.
Beers saw their point but said they may be underestimating children's abilities to overcome adversity and achieve at a normal standard.
In October, the board approved minor revisions to the policy while agreeing to open it up again for heavy re-evaluation in the future.
"I personally have a problem with it as you might have known by my 20-minute diatribe last month," he said to Ickes on Tuesday.
"We will look at it."