Saturday, November 2, 2013

Flushing HS Report #3: Letter to Madame Tisch as Grading Saga Continues

Ms. Hansen,
While I await response from the NYSED, let me try to illustrate to your office why your interpretation of the High School Academic Policy 2013 concerning grades is ridiculous. The new teacher evaluation system currently in effect uses a scale of 1 - 100. Suppose principals had the option of using only a part of that scale.
Mr. Seung Yong Ok
Seung is replying to the nonsense response (See Flushing HS Report #2: DOE Tepid Response to Principal Violation of DOE Rules) he received from Shael assistant, Tweedie Katie Hansen of the Office of Academic Policy and Systems - OAPS? Or OOPS?
Here was our original report: Flushing HS Report#1: Teacher Questions Principal's Grading System as Violation of DOE Rules

Seung is not finished yet. We expect to do quite a few reports on Flushing HS and their thug interim principal as info from him and others at the school comes in. Here Seung emails Chief Slug Merryl Tisch.

Dear Chancellor Tisch,
I am a teacher who is deeply concerned about the DOE's Office of Accountability's refusal to check Principal James Brown's obvious flouting of New York's City and State academic grading polices.
Not only has Principal Brown proposed a policy that mandates teachers give no grade lower than a 55 on report cards, but also calculate 33% of that grade towards the final course mark.

Teachers have met with Principal Brown, Children First Network's Niancy DiMaggio, and have emailed Mr. Suransky numerous times to no avail.

We believe the DOE is breaking their own policy in the 2013 High School Academic Reference Guide, which states that the numerical scale to be used is 1-100.

Essentially, the proposed new policy is illegally instituting a new scale of 55-100, which is not the spirit, intent, nor letter of the stated policy.

More disturbing is the attempt to make teachers complicit in grade inflation, which adds to the rampant practice occurring in many of our NYC public schools today.

I know that as a proponent of higher standards and a rigorous curriculum you may be alarmed that with Mr. Brown's policy, a student only only needs to obtain a grade of 85 only one marking period, and disappear for the other two, and still average a passing grade. That culminates in only a 28% mastery of course curriculum.
Mr. Suransky's office merely replied that a principal has the power to choose their school's grading policy. To quote their response," While STARS offers a variety of grading scales, schools are not required to use the entire 1-100 point scale in their grading policies."

I hope you agree that this is either a flagrant flouting of DOE policy or an extreme confusion of the terms grading policy versus grading scale.

The principal can alter policy: choosing letter grades and their numerical values, Pass/Fail, or numerical grades; the number of marking periods, and whether the policy is set per course, per department, or school-wide.

However, it is against policy and common sense, to allow a principal to choose their own numerical scale.

What will stop a principal from mandating that a grade of 64 be calculated as the minimum real average for all students, even those who have cut classes a majority of the marking period.

The teachers of Flushing High School plead with you to look into this matter or refer this matter to the appropriate NYSED department.

Thank you for your time.
Mr. Seung-Yong Ok
Science teacher at Flushing High School.


  1. Commissioner King is good at manipulating figures. Perhaps, he can lend a hand if he is not too busy with his "listening tour."

    1. Yes, thank you, I'm up to the second email request for clarification with Mr. King.

    2. I'm sorry to tell you this, but your math is wrong. If a student received four 79's and a 25 in the last marking period, the average would be 68.2. You should add up the total and divide by 5 marking periods and you will see. You made the mistake of counting the first four marking periods into one average, as if it equaled only marking period's work. If you are a teacher and have been using that process, please change it- cause you are right, that would be unfair to that child. The formula should be 4(79)+ 25, then divide that whole by 5.

      To your second point about A-F. You are forgetting that in order to arrive at the alpha grade, one must calculate using the numerical scale first - and that scale runs from 1-100. So if a student gets a 35 average on a marking period, it is an F is it not? Does that F affect how the 35 was calculated in the first place? If it were, then on all tests, teachers should never give anything lower than a 55. In counting homeworks, teachers should never actually record that zero homeworks were handed in, but 55%. In class work, teachers should always record that all students participated 55% of the time, when in fact some may have cut every single day of a marking period.

      And plus, reporting an F to a parent is a different story then report numerical 55. All parents know from common knowledge that F is the lowest possible alpha grade. However, a 55 to most parents is only 10 point away passing. Gee my son did most of the work to get there. The alphabetic grade is derived from the numerical grade, not vice versa.

      So the only benefit of passing along a kid who may need to retake the course is to protect the behinds of the adults in the buildings - including the DOE's.

  2. Susan Edelman at the NY Post is investigating this recent trouble by principal James Brown. Brown who was exposed by Edelman back on September 22 is drawing her attention again as is the entire policy of grading by the DOE. My guess is that next Sunday would be another article about the Flushing HS principal without principle.

  3. Mr. Seung_Yonk Ok, you are a wrong. There is absolutely no reason to fail a student with a grade below 55, other than to punish the student. Consider a student who earned four 79s and a 55. His average would be 67. If the failing grade were changed to 25 his average becomes 61, a failing average. Who does this benefit? Certainly not the student. Not the school, and not the teacher. A 55 is a floor. Without the floor students averages would unfairly drop.

    The 55 serves the same purpose as an F in a letter grading system even though numerically an F is zero. Lets take your example. A student earns a B (2.0) in MP 1 and then two Fs. It averages out to a D (1.0). Should the letter grading system be allowed to use additional letters which are the equivalent of negative numbers? Essentially that is your argument.


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