Norton Elementary School investigating grading discrepancy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A discrepancy in the way some math and social studies grades were calculated at Norton Elementary School during the last grading period has resulted in a change to the report cards of at least 19 students.

In a letter sent home Tuesday to the parents of 56 fifth-grade students who have Karen Follensbee for math and Kay Staebler for social studies, principal Ken Stites said it was brought to his attention shortly before winter break that "one of the categories in a teacher’s grade book did not have a sufficient number of grades input."

Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for JCPS, said the teachers did not have enough grades in the "engagement" category, which resulted in some student grades being lower than they should have been. 

"Norton Elementary has looked into the previous year’s grades, and this wasn’t an issue," Martin said. "A total of nineteen students’ grades were affected.  Parents will receive new report cards if their students’ grades were updated."

In his letter, Stites explains that "while many grades were recorded by each teacher (20 in social studies and 32 in math) it was the placement within the categories that needed to be addressed."

"I audited each of the grade books and checked the accuracy of every student’s grade," he wrote. "Any grades that needed to be included retroactively for the first nine weeks were considered 100 percent. This way, students received the benefit of the doubt regarding performance level and there could be no reduction in their posted grade."

Stites told parents there were "very few report card grades affected, those that were have already been changed, and parents have been notified."

"This process ensured that every one of Ms. Staebler’s and Ms. Follensbee’s students received accurate grades," he said.

"As always, the Norton teaching staff and I share the highest level of commitment to our work educating your children," he said. "We realize accuracy in reporting their performance levels to you is just as important as ensuring appropriate delivery of content in their lessons."

Several parents told WDRB News on Wednesday they were concerned about the grades because many of their children have applied to middle schools that look at grades in determining whether or not students are accepted into their programs.

Parents also told the station that Follensbee sent an email on Tuesday morning, informing them that she will be "taking a leave for the rest of the year, effective immediately," citing health reasons.

Martin confirmed that Follensbee was not at work Tuesday or Wednesday, but that the district had not received any paperwork for a leave of absence. Martin said Staebler was at school both days.

Stites did not return several calls for comment; Martin told WDRB he was declining comment on the issue, beyond the letter that was sent to parents. She also said that Joe Leffert, the assistant superintendent whose area includes Norton Elementary, was also not available for comment.

Neither Follensbee nor Staebler could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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