Change in grading system in Region 1 handled poorly Patricia Allyn Mechare, Falls Village 3

This is in response to the April 15 letter “Disgruntled parents in Region 1 getting too much attention.” It was signed by Pam Vogel and Bob Whelan, superintendent of schools and Board of Education chairman, respectively.

Anyone reading the letter might have assumed other members of the board that governs Housatonic Valley High School sanctioned the publication. There never was any public discussion or action supporting this letter. Speaking for myself as the board’s representative for Falls Village, I knew nothing about this letter until I read it in The Sunday Republican.

For a number of years, I have observed a strained relationship between the “high-school” board and the public. At best, there seemed to be little tolerance for concerns raised during the board’s public-comment period. Further, the board was not particularly good at following through and reporting to the public the steps that were taken regarding questions or concerns raised at previous meetings. A few on the board seemed dismissive of anyone who raised concerns on any topic, especially if they involved Dr. Vogel. People who raised such concerns were referred to as uninformed, and accused of spreading rumors and/or promulgating misinformation – using much of the language that appears in Dr. Vogel’s and Mr. Whelan’s letter. That’s unfortunate.

For months, citizens, including many parents, have expressed concerns about mastery-based grading practices. Listening to Dr. Vogel and Mr. Whelan, you would be left with the impression those expressing concern weren’t supportive of the concept. Nothing could be further from the truth. The concern has centered on the way the initiative was implemented. What the overwhelming worry has been is the apparent lack of properly engaging the stakeholders – the administrators, teachers, students and parents – in the process. There have been legitimate concerns about the adequacy of the training, preparation and comprehensive understanding of the proposed change for the staff, students and parents. There has been a clear miscalculation by the “central office” administration regarding a smooth transition from traditional grading practices to mastery-based grading practices. The process has been further complicated by an unrealistic timeline for implementation.

The focus should be on solving the obvious problem created by a misguided roll-out of what otherwise would likely have been a successful change in the proficiency of learning of our students.

Patricia Allyn Mechare


  1. Mrs. Mechare, I was impressed with Mr. Bearshufer’s ( sorry for the spelling Dave) questioning at the Salisbury Board meeting on who the Chief Executor is. Board or Superintendent? This as you know has been one heck of a debate for many a year. Their Chairman said he would ask the ABC committee to clarify this. Mrs. Vogel said their is a statue saying she is. Dave asked for it to be Clarified, he was not satisfied. She also stated the different Boards treat her differently pending circumstances. Mrs. Vogel and Mrs. Carter stated all the schools were all on the same page now and things are going smoother. I would say that should be all the boards do the same and be on the same page as to how the meetings are run and once the findings on who is the Chief Executor is. Dave as just about everyone, we have all thought it to be the Boards final decision on procedures and changes. ???????????? It is about time this be brought to light, and put to rest. Good for Dave, it has been a long time in coming!!!!

  2. With all due respect to Ms. Mechare and her fellow board members, both newly elected and well tenured, this is this board’s sixth month of representing the people of our Region. Why have the concerns of the populous not been addressed? The first two months of this new board witnessed thoughtful commentary and questions during public comment sessions. None of these concerns were followed up by the board at future meetings. None of the concerns make their way to future agendas. Who sets the agendas? What is the point of public comment? Has Ms. Mechare been shut out of this process? While this letter appears to distance Ms. Mechare from her board chair’s actions, it does little in the way of providing answers to a public which seems to be attending fewer and fewer board meetings. And why should they? Their concerns are not being addressed. Even if the board’s answers are, “no,” it would at least serve as a recognition of the public and students this board, in theory, serves.

  3. I am apparently in the minority of the disgruntled minority. The Lakeville Journal, Pat Mechare, and even the Region One Community seem to be speaking out against only the implementation of these new grading policies. I, for one, fail to see any real evidence that these policies are a direction in which we should be headed. I keep hearing that our nation and Connecticut must be in lock step with these Progressive ideas. Other than a few examples of experiments from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Colorado, I do not see these,”standard based,” inititives as the wave of the future. Much evidence exists questioning and contradicting our Central Office’s claims. But if, through the decisions of Central Office and our Board of Ed, this is the direction we are heading, perhaps it is my duty to support these initiatives (as silly as I believe they are).
    But my NO vote on on May 8th will be a vote not against the implementation of these education theories, but a vote against this education direction in and of itself.

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