Board of education moves one step closer to grading change

Research shows the current system may adversely affect students.

At its most recent public meeting, Haddonfield’s board of education took the first step toward  approving a change in the district’s grading system, an impending transition to a 10-point system in place of the existing seven-point scale. 

During that May 28 virtual session, the board provided unanimous consent to the alteration upon first reading. 

Under current policy, students from grades 4 through 12 are evaluated on a numerical and letter scale, from 70 to 100. From lowest to highest, scores of 70 to 77 are D’s, scores from 78 to 84 are C level, from 85 to 92 are B’s and 93 to 100 are A level. Any grade under 70 is considered failing. 

School Superintendent Larry Mussoline told the Sun the week prior to the vote that studies and research undertaken, with input from several district sources involved, showed the seven-point system may adversely affect the social and emotional well-being of students and might harm students in the college application and acceptance process.

Second reading and the chance for further public comment are expected at the board of education’s next public session on June 11. At that time, the board will review public comments received about the proposed change and make a final decision. 

Should the measure pass, the district would then shift to a grading system whose failure threshold would begin at 60, and whose letter grades would be demarcated in increments of 10,  with a limit of 100. The change would be effective Sept. 1 for the 2020-’21 academic year.

The board additionally moved to submit the contract of Dr. Gino Priolo to the Camden County Superintendent so he can become assistant superintendent, effective July 1. 

Priolo had served as Director of Special Education for the district since 2014, having first joined  in 2005 as principal of J. Fithian Tatem Elementary. He then assumed the same position at Haddonfield Middle School in 2011. Priolo will move into the slot previously held by Chuck Klaus, who will become superintendent on July 1. 

“Over the past decade, I have worked with Dr. Priolo as a fellow administrator and have grown to admire his professionalism, thoughtfulness and collaborative nature,” said  Klaus. 

“He is a student-centered and experienced leader who understands the importance of visiting issues from the perspective of all stakeholders. He is not afraid to ask hard questions and is always willing to provide answers to those same questions.”

In other news:

  • Klaus revealed to the board that the district is likely to face a state aid shortfall of roughly $180,000 for the upcoming school year, owing to circumstances caused by the ongoing pandemic. He also said that while the total amount of aid from Trenton will be a net gain over the current year, the district still needs to figure out ways to compensate for the reduction. Stay tuned to the Sun for more information as the situation unfolds.