Foes Of Grading System Continue Protest

January 12, 2010|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Opponents of a Baltimore County student tracking system that was to be made mandatory this month are expected to continue voicing their concerns at the county school board meeting tonight.

The tracking system, which would require teachers to grade students on their mastery of about 100 skills in each subject, has angered teachers, who say it is burdensome and redundant.

Superintendent Joe A. Hairston pulled back from an order to make the system mandatory by the end of the second marking period, but opposition to the program has continued to build.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County had planned to provide shuttle buses to get teachers to the school board meeting but decided against an organized protest, said President Cheryl Bost.

"The teachers association has scaled back our effort for the meeting, giving the Board of Education a chance to do the right thing," she said. "But many of our teachers and parents will be in attendance because they don't trust the review and decisions made by our leaders."

Bost said the teachers group will make a larger showing at the school budget hearing Jan. 19 at Loch Raven High School, where more teachers and parents will be allowed to speak. The school board allows 10 people from the public to comment at a board meeting once a month.

A Facebook page called End AIM Now has 1,400 members.

Parents and politicians are also weighing in on the issue, and many have sided with the teachers.

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. is among those who have written to Hairston. "AIM is another cumbersome burden put on teachers," he said in in interview. "They are being asked to implement a program that they had no input into creating. I am glad to see it pulled back. I would hope a task force would be appointed to include input from parents and teachers."

County spokesman Don Mohler said County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s office has received hundreds of letters, mostly from teachers, expressing their concerns. All have been forwarded to Hairston.

Dulaney High School's PTSA president Terri Seitz Parrish said, "Implementing AIM is going to tie some teachers' hands and stifle their potential to be the 'teacher they strive to be.' "

Hairston has appointed a committee of top administrators to review teacher concerns and streamline AIM. He said he will announce the results at a school board work session Jan. 26.

Baltimore Sun reporter Mary Gail Hare contributed to this article.

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