• Whistleblower 9: New grading practice could boost students' grades

    By: Scott Wickersham


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Whistleblower 9 investigation uncovered a new grading practice in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

    Some people are complaining that it skews the numbers to boost the graduation rate.

    A letter obtained by Channel 9 states the principal at one high school is telling teachers to change the entire grading scale.

    The letter states teachers at Mallard Creek High School are being instructed to scrap traditional scores and remove "any zeroes, making a 50 the lowest 'F' possible regardless of the student's efforts."

    That means a student who scores a 10, a 25 or a 45 on a test will get a score of 50, which could be a huge boost to their grade point average at the end of the year.

    Channel 9 confirmed it's happening at Mallard Creek and Independence high schools.

    "Educating them is not the goal; getting them out of the way for the kids who are coming behind them is," said Judy Kidd, president of Classroom Teachers Association.

    Kidd said this is all about boosting the graduation rate and a response to recent legislation seeking to stop social promotion, which is advancing a child regardless of grades to keep them within their social age group.

    "So if you can't socially promote, and you want to continue with the graduation rate, and don't want to admit the policies to educate are flawed in the first place, then the next best thing is to elevate the scores," Kidd said.

    The new grading scale is not official CMS policy, but principals are allowed to use it at their discretion.

    Eyewitness News asked Mallard Creek principal Nancy Brightwell why she asked teachers to start using it this year.

    Brightwell said it keeps struggling children motivated to learn, giving them hope they can still get a passing grade.

    "It's not giving a free grade for no effort, I want to be real clear about that," Brightwell said. "It ends up being a more true reflection of that child's skill and ability, than a skewed grade when you have zeroes factored in."

    Mecklenburg County Sen. Jeff Tarte, co-sponsor of a new bill to improve education and hold schools more accountable, sees this as a way to get around the legislation.

    "As I was taught in school, that's cheating," Tarte said. "It needs to be looked into and investigated. Are people looking at what's coming and looking for ways to circumvent the system? And we need to stop that before it becomes epidemic."

    Some parents and taxpayers said they agree.

    "It's setting up the problem with the current generation, which thinks they should be given rewards just for showing up. It's one of the big problems we have in the workforce right now," said Jennifer Lazenby.

    That's the point, Kidd said. The children are bumped along and not prepared for life.

    "We are robbing them of their educations. It's one more way we are pushing them out the door," Kidd said.

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