EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

March 3, 2014

Teachers fight order they grade practice MCAS tests at home

Superintendent refuses grievance, which now goes to School Committee

HAVERHILL — Three English teachers are fighting a requirement that they grade students’ responses to a practice MCAS test outside of school.

Superintendent James Scully has denied a grievance filed by the teachers union over the matter.

The union filed the grievance Nov. 25 on behalf of teachers Ernie Andrews, Kristy Medvetz and Mike Lavieri, according to a copy obtained by The Eagle-Tribune.

The teachers oppose taking the practices tests home to grade them. The grievance says the practice tests contain “open response questions’’ which students write out answers to.

The complaint alleges the district violated the teachers’ contract by not “bargaining” the additional work with the union before requiring the teachers to grade the practice exams, which were given in the fall to all 10th-grade students. The union also said the district violated the contract by not notifying the union of the additional teacher grading assignments prior to implementation.

“It is the belief of the HEA (the Haverhill Education Association teachers’ union) that this additional workload constitutes a change in working conditions and thus needs to be bargained before being implemented,” reads a portion of the grievance written by teacher Chris Cook, the union’s vice president.

“Haverhill teachers do not object to grading such assignments, we recognize the need for such, and want to be a part of the process,” the grievance said. “We all want to work together to improve student achievement. However, we ask that the extra burden this places on the English staff be recognized.”

The grievance suggests as a remedy that teachers be allowed to grade future practice MCAS tests during staff meetings or teaching training sessions, or as an alternative that substitute teachers be brought in so teachers can leave their classrooms to grade tests during their scheduled work day.

“While it is difficult to tally an exact figure, teachers already spend a substantial amount of time after school and on weekends planning lessons and grading assignments,” the grievance said. “We only ask that this not be added to when doing so will undoubtedly eliminate, for teachers, time they might use to plan new lessons or grade other assignments. Like anyone, teaching staff only have ‘X’ amount of hours per day. Therefore if more and more is continually added to their plate, eventually something else will be neglected.”

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