Posted on November 16, 2009

District Nixes Cash-For-Grades Fundraiser

Lynn Bonner, News & Observer (Raleigh), November 16, 2009

Selling candy didn’t raise much money last year, so a Goldsboro middle school tried selling grades.

However, the fundraiser came to an abrupt halt today after a story in The News & Observer raised concerns about the practice of selling grades.

Wayne County school administrators stopped the fundraiser, issuing a statement this morning.

Learn the trick

“Yesterday afternoon, the district administration met with [Rosewood Middle School principal] Mrs. Shepherd and directed the following actions be taken: (1) the fundraiser will be immediately stopped; (2) no extra grade credit will be issued that may have resulted from donations; and (3) beginning Novermber 12, all donations will be returned.”

A $20 donation to Rosewood Middle School would have gotten a student 20 test points–10 extra points on two tests of the student’s choosing. That could raise a B to an A, or a failing grade to a D.

Susie Shepherd, the principal, said a parent advisory council came up with the idea, and she endorsed it. She said the council was looking for a new way to raise money.

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Shepherd rejected the suggestion that the school is selling grades. Extra points on two tests won’t make a difference in a student’s final grade, she said.

It’s wrong to think that “one particular grade could change the entire focus of nine weeks,” Shepherd said.

State education officials, who typically shy from talking about grading at individual schools, were not pleased to hear of Rosewood’s effort.

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Tight state and local budgets have put extra pressure on schools to raise their own money. Teachers giving extra test credit to students who bring in classroom supplies is a longstanding practice at some schools.

The wrong lesson?

But Garland said exchanging grades for money teaches children the wrong lessons. She also said it is bad testing practice and is unfair to students whose parents can’t pay.

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Students should know that test grades are based on what they’ve learned, and parents need to have a true picture of how their child is performing in class, Garland said.

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A parent objects

Carmen Zepp, a Raleigh parent, said there should be policies against offering students test credit for anything other than what they’ve learned.

Zepp objected this year when her daughter’s social studies teacher at Knightdale High School had students bring to school tissues and hand sanitizer. The supplies counted for 25 percent of a “supply check” grade.

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 Students by Ethnicity  This School  North Carolina School Average
% American Indian n/a 1%
% Asian 1% 2%
% Hispanic 4% 7%
% Black 23% 33%
% White 73% 55%

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