Saturday, April 21, 2001

Campbell students all meet deadline

4 years' worth of work redone in 2 months

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA — All seniors at Campbell County High School met Friday's deadline to turn in their writing portfolios, which they have been scrambling to redo the past few weeks because of teachers' editing errors.

        In February, the school confiscated all 325 seniors' portfolios and told the seniors to redo them in less than two months because some teachers' editing marks violated state guidelines.

        Now the school is working to make sure the debacle — which stirred strong protests among parents and students — isn't repeated.

        The school is training teachers, students and parents on proper portfolio editing; and some teachers responsible for the mistakes have been reassigned.

        “The biggest lesson we learned is that if we don't keep reminding ourselves of what must be done, we will let things slip,” Principal Stephen Sorrell said Friday.

        The writing portfolios, required by the Kentucky Department of Education, are part of the state's testing system. Students work on the portfolios throughout high school, collecting three to five of their best writing pieces.

        Most students finished early, beating the deadline by a few weeks, and the final few came in this week, Mr. Sorrell said.

        “The seniors have been very cooperative,” he said. “The majority of students seemed to buckle down to do their best work.”

        Officials said they don't expect the school's writing scores to suffer much despite the rushed work, but some students aren't as optimistic.

        “A lot of us took old pieces and put them in there anyway,” said senior Ryan Hall, 17. “Nobody really wrote any new pieces, and nobody tried because it wasn't worth it. Our portfolio grade from the state is probably going to be very low, but that was their mistake.”

        About six teachers were responsible for the mistakes. No one was fired, but some teachers were given new duties and “are receiving some repercussions for their errors,” Mr. Sorrell said.

        “The large majority of them represented an effort by the teacher to improve the writing and probably was not an intentional effort to mess it up,” he said.

        The state has strict guidelines for what teachers can and cannot do to help students prepare portfolio work. In January, state officials discovered that a handful of Campbell County teachers had made improper marks on student work. Teachers cannot make revisions or corrections.

        Portfolios that violate the state guidelines are given a score of zero.

        District officials reviewed every portfolio. Similar editing errors were found on some underclassmen's portfolios, but those students have more time to redo work if necessary.

        Several seniors protested the loss of their original work, but acceded to do the work again after the school council voted to not make the portfolios part of the seniors' English grades.

        However, with the grade requirement lifted, some students said the quality of the work isn't up to par.

        “I was really disappointed because I was really proud of my original portfolio pieces,” Ryan said, adding that his new portfolio included a “mean, yet tasteful” letter to the reviewer, a piece students are required to write.

        “I told them that this was a horrible portfolio, and if they wanted to see a good portfolio they could check the garbage can where my original one is.”


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