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Watkins teacher: Regents grading is a ‘circus’

WATKINS GLEN—Several Watkins Glen high school teachers expressed concerns and asked for changes in the Regents exam grading system at the Monday, Feb. 4, school board meeting.
Kate Bartholomew, Watkins Glen Faculty Association president, told the school board Watkins had a number of students who received low marks on the January Regents exams and in turn had grade levels fall. She explained it seemed to be for random reasons mostly.
“Currently a number of exams are being appealed,” said Bartholomew. She presented the board with some math exams and pointed out where a correct answer received no points.
English teacher Jeannette Lasko elaborated on the faculty’s concerns, ultimately calling the regional grading system a “circus.” She presented the board with a student essay that was graded as a two out of six points, with six being the highest possible score. Lasko compared it to a sample essay the state indicated should be marked as a “two.”
“This is not a ‘two’ essay,” she said of the Watkins student essay. Lasko added herself and the other English teachers reviewed the essay and felt it deserved either a five or six out of six. She explained the New York State Education Department currently requires teachers from outside the district to grade the Regents exams.
This was another concern Lasko had. She described the one day she and fellow Watkins English teacher Kelly Muir graded other schools’ Regents exams from January. She called the environment “hostile” with no overall guidance for the teachers present. Lasko explained the teachers were split into groups, given the state’s criteria for grading, and given a stack of essays.
“There were 40 some teachers in a room to review exams,” Lasko said, adding it got noisy.
She explained this was the first time they have done regional grading. Lasko proposed not doing it because she left the grading day not feeling certain about her own students’ scores. If possible, she said Watkins should look to having teachers within the district or even work with one district to grade Regents.
“Nothing compares to having to tell these kids they did bad,” said Lasko. “I feel like I let down our kids. They’re AP (Advanced Placement), they get 95’s.”
Muir also told the board the district wasn’t initially getting clear enough information on what areas students needed improvement. She added the teachers eventually received the breakdown of where a student answered correctly, but after they reviewed the tests themselves spending “hours and hours.”






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