Friday, February 23, 2001

Students need not redo work

Still asked for portfolios, but won't face penalties

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA — Seniors at Campbell County High School won't face consequences if they don't redo writing portfolios that were marred by teachers' editing mistakes.

        Students are still being asked to reproduce the work in only a few weeks. But if it's not quality writing, they won't be denied a diploma.

        “I can't hold them accountable for our mistakes,” Principal Stephen Sorrell said.

        The school council — composed of the principal, teachers and parents — voted Thursday night to waive its policy for this year that requires seniors to complete the portfolios to pass English, which is needed to graduate.

        School officials are still urging the 325 seniors to finish the portfolios, which are part of the Kentucky Department of Education's testing system and will affect the school's assessment scores. But the rushed work won't factor into the students' English grades.

        More than 60 parents and students packed the council meeting and questioned school officials. Not all were satisfied with the answers.

        “They are still asking the students to be responsible for something they had no control over,” said Sue Bonar, whose daughter is a senior at the school.

        Students were told two weeks ago that they'd have to reproduce the portfolios because teachers had made improper marks on them.

        Mr. Sorrell seized the students' work, including draft material and computer disks, and the seniors have to start from scratch.

        However, not all of the work will have to be redone.

        Faculty members have reviewed the confiscated portfolios, looking for work that was not marked improperly. Nearly every student will get at least one piece back, Mr. Sorrell said.

        Students work on the portfolios throughout high school, collecting five of their best writing pieces.

        The state has detailed guidelines for what teachers can do to help students prepare portfolio work. The writing is supposed to be students' work. Teachers cannot make corrections or revisions.

        Five to seven teachers are responsible for the errors, Mr. Sorrell said.

        However, school officials are still investigating whether the mistakes were intentional.

        Thursday night, school officials also said some of the errors were made by students when editing their classmates' work, or by parents helping their children.

        Senior Nathan Henegar, 17, said he plans to try his best to reproduce a quality portfolio. But because it won't affect students' grades now, he said it's unlikely many of his peers will do the same.

        “We take pride in our original work, and that's why we won't do it again,” he said.

        Police continue to investigate vandalism at the school, which was discovered this month. Someone spray-painted “portfolio” and other remarks on the building. No arrests have been made.


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