Windsor Locks Parents Petition for Change in School Grading System

A petition demanding change in Windsor Locks over a progressive grading system has garnered close to 800 signatures, and now the town's Board of Education has plans to convene a task force to review that system.

The school district implemented Mastery-Based Learning in 2013, making it a policy in 2016. The system takes the place of the traditional letter grade approach.

“The students, they’re begging for change,” said Brian Pham, a parent. “They’re asking the board to hear their voice and just come to a compromise.”

According to the State Department of Education, Mastery-Based Learning measures students “mastery” of a skill or given subject. NBC Connecticut learned 39 schools around the state have committed to Mastery-Based Learning.

”Ultimately, Mastery-Based Learning is about supporting all students in their learning process,” said Superintendent Dr. Susan Bell. “We believe that all students can learn and we believe all teachers can teach all students.”

Parents said they applaud the district’s commitment to their children, but some strongly believe the letter grading system is the right choice.

”The school board went to this out of a true desire to have students learn and know exactly what they don’t understand and then teach to those gaps, but it had a number of intended consequences and one of those is that most students hang right in the middle the entire time,” said Karen Kudish, whose two children attend Windsor Locks schools.

Bell said the system was implemented over four years and several focus meetings with input from parents and students. She said it is not likely they will revert back to the traditional letter grade system, but they will consider revisions moving forward.

“There are essential components of this system and there are some components of the system that we would certainly be open to looking at and working through," said Dr. Bell. 

“We just want the traditional grading that we understand,” said Kudish. “It is a language. It’s like they went Fahrenheit and the metric system and all of us are in inches, and we don’t understand what they’re saying. We want to speak the same language.”

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