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Shelby County School Board chair says controversial grading practice is here to stay

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County School Board chair says a controversial grading practice is here to stay.

The way it works: each school sets its own grade floor - meaning they can give students a higher grade than they earned.

"Our principals have given us feedback that when students are struggling, they have mechanisms in place to support those students," said Chairwoman Shante Avant.

Earlier this month, a Kingsbury High School teacher forwarded WREG an email from the assistant principal ordering teachers to fill in missing grades with at least a 65.

The teacher expressed concern saying it makings it easier for students to pass without the knowledge they need.

"It isn’t something that’s new to Shelby County. It isn’t something new to another district across the state or across the country," said Chairwoman Avant. "We don’t like to fail students in a semester unless there’s an opportunity that students can make up those grades and those assignments."

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson admitted to WREG earlier this month there's a lack of consistency since there's no universal policy on grade floors.

“A lack of consistency. That’s something I have to own, which is why we’ll be asking the board to have a policy that applies across the board," he said.

Chairwoman Avant said they had that discussion last week in a committee meeting, and it's been put to rest.

"You don`t think there needs to be a consistent grade floor across the district?," we asked her.

"So talking with principals across the district, I think we all can agree that every school is on a different level," said the Chairwoman.

The Shelby County Teacher's Association president said there needs to be a universal policy enforced.

Avant, however, told WREG teachers the board spoke to are in support of the grading practice.

"We have talk to teachers. I don’t know what feedback you received, but the feedback we’ve received from talking to both principals and teachers and the folks that are supporting our teachers within the schools are consistent with that statement," said the Chairwoman.

There is a regular board meeting scheduled December 5, and Chairwoman Avant said it's unlikely grade floors will be discussed again.