TUSD Counselor: "We're caught in the middle" of grading modifications

Reaction to district's sudden modification in grading practices
Posted at 8:40 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 18:30:33-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A counselor speaks out about Tucson Unified's sudden shift in grading practices.

KGUN reported last week, that the district's grading modification came without notice on the same week the first semester ended.

A memo sent to teachers in grades 6 to 12, reveals a temporary letter grading system that's designed to "alleviate academic pressure on students" during remote learning.

The district wrote that all B, C, D students can ask for a P (Pass) or an I (Incomplete).

The staffer said that giving any student a P or an I is not new. What's new, several TUSD staff told us, is that the grading option can include core classes, not just electives.

The staffer, who wants to remain anonymous, said the district also threw counselors in the middle of the process.

"We got this Tuesday. We're told as counselors now that we're becoming that middle person -- that liaison between the parent and the teacher. And I said why? We've never done this before with any type of P's or I's," said the counselor.

The next day teachers at the school asked the same question, "Why are counselors involved"?

Administration had answered, "Keep the principals hands off," said the staffer,"That's been the logic behind it."

By state law, principals and even counselors must stay out of any grading and that only the teacher of record can make a change.

The counselor believes the decision stems from the year a Pueblo HS principal, Auggie Romero, got caught changing several students' F grades. After a lengthy KGUN9 investigation, the Governing Board voted to rescind the principal's contract.

So now, the counselor who can't change grades either, is simply redirecting parents right back to the teachers.

The staff said, "I can understand one component of it. That is to create a plan for when a student wants to get from a C or a D to a B. So how are you going to do that?"

The counselor said they didn't get clear direction from the district and now suddenly they have to come up with plans of their own.

The staffer expressed another concern over the coming weeks and months. Parents of failing students, who put little effort into classwork, will begin pressuring the schools to change F grades even though it's not an option.

"I guarantee there will be more F parents wanting those changes because if they can change a B, C and D and get an incomplete, then why can't I do that with an F," said the counselor.

TUSD has told KGUN9 that there isn't a modification in grading practices, but several teachers and counselors we've spoken to disagree.