(Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

November 16, 1998

ABCs don't make the grade

November 3, 1998

The Tattoo

When high school report cards are handed out
soon, not a single student is going to get an

Nobody's going to get an 'F' either.

Instead, thanks to a new computer software
system at Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern
high schools, students will get number grades
instead of the traditional letters.

School officials junked the old computer system
in favor of a new one that can keep track of
schedules, grades, attendance and more.

Grades on the new report cards -- which can't be
forged like the old ones -- will show up as a
number from 0 to 100. They will make calculating
grade point averages simpler.

But it will make it impossible for students to
fudge their grades to parents. They won't get
away any longer with saying their 'B' was an 86
when it was really an 83.

The school has long used numbers to evaluate
students' work but it traditionally translated
them into letter grades for report cards.

Students and teachers have varying opinions on
the change, which Eastern's governance council
approved last year.

Central's governance council preferred the old
system, said Paul Castolene, a vice principal at
the school. He said it seemed "sort of
ridiculous" to have numeric grades in the grade
book and on transcripts and letter grades on
report cards.

"We're still learning things," Castolene said.
"We'll see how it goes when semester grades come

Michael Rogers, head of Eastern's governance
council last year, said teachers did have
concerns about giving 59s, 69s, 79s and 89s.

"Evaluation is a tough thing anyway," Rogers

Teachers would have to decide personally for
each student whether to mark the grade up an
extra point, Rogers said. 

Nerissa Kapros, a junior at Central, said she
doesn't agree with the change "because parents
will see what their child's grade really is. But
on the other hand the student will benefit
because it will urge them to bring up their

Eastern sophomore Marcel Lachance said, "I think
it sucks, because now when parents see grades
it's not a range, just a solid grade. And it
will get us in more trouble."

"It doesn't change anything. In some cases it
will generate some conversation with students
and staff," said Beryl Josephson, a social
studies teacher at both schools.

Kenneth Ferris, Eastern's choral teacher, said,
"I like the idea. It lets you know where you

But Michael Traverso, an Eastern history
teacher, called the change "a bad idea."

"It makes it harder to adjust grades at the end
of the year to help kids pass," Traverso said.

Matt Gaul, a junior at Eastern, said, "I don't
see any real use for it. All the students know
their grades anyway."

Liz Abbott, a Central junior said, "I think it's
better because a letter grade is really vague."

The computer switch was made by a committee
appointed to select a new software format from
four or five competing versions, said Edith
Mosback, a secretary at Eastern's main office.
They chose the School Administration Student
Information program, she said, which is already
used in Hampden, Newington and Wallingford.

In handling grades, the SASI program allows
office personnel to enroll students, change
schedules, and keep track of student body
attendance. It should save time, eliminate most
paperwork, and make the office more efficient,
said Daniel Viens, assistant principal at

The new and improved report cards are printed on
a gray watermark paper disabling students from
forging a reproduction of their grades.

There is also a citizenship or behavior column
on the new report cards.

Teachers only have a variety of 20 standardized
comments on the cards, in which they are allowed
to choose two.
"I don't like having fewer comments," said Linda
Hayes, a French teacher at both high schools. 

To produce the report cards, teachers will first
fill out a scantron sheet in which they will
bubble in the mark grade, exam grade,
citizenship, comments, and absences. These
sheets will then be scanned into the computers.

The report cards -- which used to be printed in
another town -- will instead be printed on dot
matrix printers at the schools and then given to

At the moment, there is a glitch in the computer

The printer can't connect directly to the
computers, but the problem is expected to be
fixed quickly.

"Once all the kinks are worked out, it will be
more effective," said Richard Barlock, an
English teacher at Central.

Barlock said the delay this year helps a little
because it gives teachers more time to evaluate

"Don't worry," said Viens. "Everything will be