Victoria school board reconsiders policy about retesting

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Aug. 7, 2012 at 3:07 a.m.
Updated Aug. 8, 2012 at 3:08 a.m.

Dylan Rab wants to go to college, but not just any college.

"I expect to go to a big college," Rab said.

Last school year, Rab walked into what he knew was going to be a difficult U.S. History exam.

"It was just a hard test," Rab said. "And I went in the next day to retake it after school."

Rab made a 60 on the exam the first time and decided to retake it, so he could walk away with an "A" in the class. He wasn't in any academic trouble as far as passing. Rab was just trying to get the best possible grade for his college applications.

"I do know students who take advantage of it," Rab said. "They're just doing it to get by."

The VISD school board is reviewing this grading policy to make it more uniform across the district.

The current policy, which has been in place since 2010, states that a student has the option of retaking or redoing an assignment whether they receive a passing or failing grade

"There have been some inconsistencies at different schools in the district," said VISD Communications Director Diane Boyett.

The board will decide the policy but will leave it up to VISD Superintendent Robert Jaklich to develop the grading guidelines.

"The guidelines have more specific details that you wouldn't want in a policy," Boyett said.

The guidelines would cover areas such as when retesting is done, what the deadlines for retesting are, if there is tutoring before retesting and more.

"We want the grading guidelines to be balanced so that students don't abuse the opportunity to retest," VISD School Board President Tami Keeling said. "And yet we want it to be flexible enough that a student can recover from a poor grade and redeem themselves and learn."

Boyett said the guidelines for retesting would be different across the grade levels and vary depending on the subject matter. At the same time, the district wants consistency by grade level across the district.

"It's probably one of the bigger issues that the board is tackling this year," Boyett said.

The VISD school board is working with Amy Kadlecek, a policy consultant from the Texas Association of School Boards, to condense the policy.

Victoria East High School parent Kathy Moore said she supported retesting because "it's a good idea because if a child fails by just one or two points, they can make up for it."

"First, kids get discouraged with bad grades, and there goes your dropout rate," Moore said.

Keeling said the board's philosophy calls for the mastery of education, but that it also doesn't want the new policy to give students an excuse to slack off the first time around.

"It doesn't help you any to just get a 60 on a test. We don't want it to be so that you can't recover from a mistake," Keeling said. "Like I always say, 'It's only a mistake if you don't learn from it.'"



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