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New board member and grading concerns dominate Quakertown School Board meeting

By Olivia Albright, Assignment Editor / Web Producer, OAlbright@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 11:41:20 PM CDT
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. -

Chuck Shermer was appointed to the Quakertown Community School District Board during Thursday night’s meeting to fill a vacant position. Shermer had submitted an application and then presented himself to the board to field their questions. Two other candidates did the same.  The board unanimously voted Shermer to the position on the spot and he took his seat on the board immediately.

Shermer was the only candidate who had attended any board meetings in the past year. Shermer felt that his work experience in the semi-conductor industry will help him fulfill his duties on the school board.

“I’ve spent a good portion of my job bringing polarized parties to a yes,” Shermer said. “It’s an important time right now for Quakertown. It’s a pretty thankless job, but I think contributing back to the community is very important.”

Shermer was on the board when they leapt into a conversation about issues with current grading policies. Board Director Fern Strunk presented various concerns and suggestions including returning to letter grades, allowing teachers to have more freedom in the classroom in terms of lesson planning, focusing less on test preparation and changing remediation policies.

Because of the extensive nature of Strunk’s list, the board decided to tackle the issues week by week and discussed only the polarizing letter grade aspect on Thursday. Some board members felt that the numerical associations with the letter grades were inconsistent and did not adequately reflect the relationship between performance and grades.

“What I believe students are telling us is that it is really hard to get a four or an A,” said Paul Stepanoff, a board director. “It’s like a 95 and above. But then a B is really easy to get because it’s from 75 to 95. You can work really hard for that A and then you miss it and you get the same grade that someone who didn’t work that hard got.”

Dr. Suzanne Lverick-Stone, assistant to the superintendent, reminded the board that groups of teachers had decided these grade values because of their interpretations in the classroom. Dr. Lisa Andrejko, superintendent, also noted that some of the changes the board expressed interest in might be prohibited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The board made no official movements on any of the letter grade issues discussed at Thursday night’s meeting, though they do fully intend to further flesh out these concerns at the next meeting.