Shelby County School Board set to discuss grading controversy

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County School Board is scheduled to discuss changes to a controversial grading practice — known as a grade floor.

The practice allows schools to give failing students a higher grade than they earned.

Under current SCS policy, each school can set its own grade floor.

Last month, WREG told you about the grade floor at Kingsbury High School — which was set at 65 — meaning no student could make below that grade.

Teachers were reportedly sent an email from Assistant Principal Nora Jones asking them to fill in missing grades for students.  It goes on to state, "The grade floor at Kingsbury HS is 65. If you issued grades below a 65, please correct this also."

The teacher who made WREG aware of the grade floor policy was afraid to go on camera, but expressed concern saying this means teachers have to give a student a 65 even if that student didn't show up to class.

Keith Williams with the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association told WREG students should not be given a grade they did not earn.

"Principals do not have the right to establish these floor-ceiling grades. They certainly do not have the rights to put teachers in these troublesome situations," he said.

He also stated that the district and school board is well aware of the issue. He said he has brought up the grading policy and these concerns several times at past meetings.

SCS responded at the time by saying the district had just learned about the situation and were investigating.

Related: What do SCS teachers think of the grading scandal?

Either way, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the policy needs to change.

"As I’ve started to investigate this, different schools set different levels. Some set 50. Some set 55. We want to make sure it’s consistent. To my core, I want to make sure the kids who are doing better have the opportunity," he said. "At the end of the day, if your report card says a F whether you get a 20 or a 69 you get a F."

Hopson said grade floors are to help students succeed and not drop out.

"With a zero, it’s impossible to pass a course. It creates kids who don’t have hope, disciplinary issues, that creates a really bad scenario," said Hopson.

WREG will be at that school board meeting and will let you know what happens.

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