Florida Teachers Question Grade Recovery Program

Using innovative computer programs and blended learning, the ‘Grade Recovery Program’ allows students who are about to get a D or an F to bring their grades up to a C. More than 28,500 middle and high school students in Duval County (Florida) public schools participated last year – however, less than half improved their grades through the program, writes Topher Sanders at Jacksonville.com.

The courses eligible for grade recovery are reading, math, science and social studies. And although the highest grade a student can earn in the program is a C, students can earn their new grade in their own time, depending on how quickly a student can finish the computer-based assignments.

“It helps every stakeholder in the food chain of education be successful,” said Terri Stahlman, the school system’s chief of instructional technology and special services.

“Because when students are successful at each formative step of the way, they have a better chance of reaching promotion and a high school diploma, and thus opportunity outside the K-12 space.”

Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said he wants the number of students who need to recover grades to drop, but he wants all students who have struggled to participate in the program.

“They’re earning it. These aren’t give-me grades by any means,” he said.

But some teachers have hit out at the program, calling it less rigorous than the classroom work.

“I had a student last year just write their name on the test and turn it back to me and say ‘OK, just give me grade recovery now,’ ” said teacher Christopher Harvey.

“They perceived it to be a shortcut to continue to be a jerk in class or not show up to class.”

Of all the district’s secondary students, 18 percent, or 13,631, improved their grades to a D or C through the program last year.

“There are some children out there that may take advantage of the teacher and not do what they are asked to do and then choose to do learning recovery, but the best that student’s going to get is a C,” Stahlman points out.

Another teacher, Victor Sciullo, of Paxon School for Advanced Studies, agreed with Harvey, stating that grade recovery isn’t realistically preparing students for the real world.

“How is that fair to the kid that did everything they were supposed to do to earn that C the first time through, at a higher standard?” Sciullo said.

“There is absolutely no incentive to work hard because students know they have an infinite well of second chances.”

But so far this is all falling on deaf ears, as district officials are thought to want to give grade recovery programs a second chance to reach even more students.

“We’re building success,” Stahlman said, “to get to the goal of graduation.”