Thursday, February 15, 2001

Students get break on redoing portfolios

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA — Students at Campbell County High School won't be denied a diploma if they don't complete writing portfolios they're working to redo because of teachers' errors.

        The high school's council plans to suspend its policy that requires seniors to complete the portfolios as part of their English final after the 325 seniors were made to reproduce the work.

        And school officials are extending the portfolio deadline until late April, an extra two weeks.

        “The students have done nothing wrong with regard to their portfolio development,” Principal Stephen Sorrell wrote in a letter to parents this week. “However, we are asking the seniors for their help as we work to correct our mistakes.”

        Some teachers made improper editing marks on students' writing portfolios, which are part of the state testing system and are strictly governed by the Kentucky Department of Education.

        The portfolios are supposed to be solely student work. Teachers cannot make revisions or corrections.

        So school officials told the seniors last week they'd have to redo the work, which they began in the ninth grade.

        The portfolios are also a major portion of seniors' English grades. Under the high school policy, if students don't complete them, they'll fail English and not be able to graduate.

        However, because of the last-minute rewrite, Mr. Sorrell is recommending the council give this year's seniors an exemption. The council is expected to approve the recommendation at a special meeting Feb. 22.

        School officials hope the lifted penalty will encourage students to complete the portfolios, which are required by the state and will affect the school's assessment scores.

        School officials are still investigating why the errors were made, which teachers are responsible and whether other students will be affected.

        Some teachers work with various grade levels. So if a teacher improperly marked seniors' work, the same errors could have been made on younger students' papers, Mr. Gramke said.

        Faculty members are reviewing the seniors' confiscated portfolios to see if there are pieces that were not marked properly and can be returned to students. All teachers got a refresher course Wednesday on proper portfolio guidelines.

        Meanwhile, police continue to investigate school vandalism, which was discovered last Friday. Vandals spray-painted “portfolio” and other remarks. No arrests have been made. Cleanup costs have exceeded $15,000.


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