EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 1, 2014

Governor praises Sanborn's grading system

Hassan visit to school prompted by grading system

By Dustin Luca

---- — KINGSTON — Gov. Maggie Hassan gave Sanborn Regional High School high marks for its grading system yesterday.

She visited the school to help move the grading platform to statewide usage.

The district’s competency-based grading and reporting model has been in development for about five years.

Assignments grades are based upon completion, then given added weight for how well they are completed.

In the end, a student’s record shows strengths, weaknesses, trends and more not typically seen in standard grading, assistant principal Michael Turmelle said.

“Grades are no longer an accumulation of points you earn from participating and handing your homework in,” Turmelle said. “It’s more about what skills you possess and what you can demonstrate.”

Hassan sat in on four classes. She also met with teachers to review grade books and ask questions.

She said she was surprised by how students worked under the system.

“The kids I met are really engaged, more than I can say I’ve seen at a lot of high schools,” Hassan said. “It’s nice to see them understanding why they’re here instead of seeing them try to absorb what the adults want them to learn.”

After her visit, Hassan said she saw professionalism in the students not often seen in public schools.

“The students at Sanborn Regional High School were interacting with each other and their teachers just as they might interact in the workplace with supervisors, managers and peers,” she said.

Freshman John Hardy, 14, interviewed Hassan for a media project.

“It was really cool, talking to the governor,” he said.

Sophomore Zach Marcoux, 16, said he, too, was excited to meet Hassan.

“Being able to meet the governor is a great opportunity,” Zach said.

Superintendent Brian Blake said Hassan’s visit was an important step in developing the program.

“We’ve been at this for a while,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to showcase the work of the folks here. It’s important to move the entire state forward toward competency-based learning.”

That’s something Hassan said she is eager to do and seeing it in action was the first step.

“What was reinforced to me is how important it is for students and teachers to be able to interact and adapt to each other,” she said. “That’s going to help at the state level as we evaluate what kind of standards we have, as we try to prepare a 21st-century workforce and see what kind of resources we should be focusing on.”