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Teacher complains of padded grades

Says practice is harming country

HOPKINTON -- A veteran Hopkinton math teacher said her school system is contributing to the ''dumbing down of America" by padding the grades of undeserving students.

Hopkinton High School teacher Rachel Bartlett appeared before the School Committee this week to complain about being asked to bump up grades for a mediocre group of 11th-grade students. She refused, but the grades were raised anyway, lifting the overall class average from 70 to 77, the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham reported.

Bartlett, a 25-year veteran of the Hopkinton schools, told the School Committee Thursday that she tries to maintain high standards for all her students and wasn't pleased with what this year's group achieved.

But, she said, ''This past year I had two sections of students with particularly weak skills and poor work habits. The grades reflected that level of skill and effort."

She added that few students took advantage of extra help when it was offered.

Bartlett said four parents appealed her grades for two 11th-grade algebra II classes to Hopkinton High School Principal Dorothy Gould.

Bartlett told the committee that Gould asked her to change the grades and ''meet the students where they were." She said she was also told that the grades were unfair, and that the School Committee wouldn't support any protest she made.

Bartlett said news reports indicate that students are unprepared for a high-tech economy, and that changing grades creates an illusion of success that ultimately won't serve the students.

''I see this as a continuation of what is termed the dumbing down of America," she said.

The School Committee did not comment on the episode. Committee chairman Dave Stoldt said he applauded Bartlett's long years of service.

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