“The criteria for making the honor roll was an A or a B; without letter grades, that criteria didn’t apply,” said Piwowar, who noted that the district is well aware that student achievement should be lauded. He is hoping to institute a system that recognizes “both academic achievement and work ethic.” The goal, he said, will be to honor students for giving their best effort.
Such a rewards system may not sit well with the students, who are among the district’s harshest critics. At Monday’s meeting, several youngsters addressed the School Committee to demand the return of the honor roll and criticize the complexity of their report cards. And long before Burke posted the online petition that has grabbed headlines, two middle school students — one of them her son, Jacob, 11 — had led petition drives, asking their peers to support going “back to percentages and letter grades.”
More than 300 children at the town’s two middle schools signed the petitions.
Going forward, as the district explores the possibility of adopting a hybrid report card for its sixth-graders, local educators “will be doing a better job of engaging parents in the community in the conversation about the learning that’s taking place in our classrooms,” said Piwowar.
In an e-mail, Daniel Cugno, chairman of the Billerica School Committee, said decisions on curriculum, including grades, should be left to the school administration.
“I am confident in the abilities of Superintendent Piwowar and his team to make decisions relating to education that are in the best interest of the children of Billerica, of which my children are included,” Cugno said.
Brenda J. Buote may be reached at email@example.com.