Parents react to Harrisburg School District's 50% policy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - The Harrisburg School District is still refusing to comment on whether they are conducting an internal investigation regarding grade changing.

District administrators did take time to explain why they brought back an old grading policy which requires every student get a 50 percent on their report card, no matter what.

The district says this policy gives students a fighting chance and will increase graduation rates by giving struggling students a better opportunity at achieving a 60-percent overall average for a course at the end of the year, which is required to pass.

"I would rather have you earn 50, recognizing that you have failed no matter what, whether I give you 50 or I give you 12, and have you still have the opportunity ... at having a fighting chance in order to be able to earn credit, because the goal is to get you out in four years and get you out to be college and career ready," said Jaimie Foster, the district's chief academic officer.

Former school board candidate Richard Soto believes the policy, which some call the "Gifty Fifty Policy" is a bad idea. 

"That is unacceptable. That is a failure to our kids," said Soto. "We have very smart, intelligent young men and ladies in our district and we should be pushing them for greatness."

Kia Hansard is a school district parent and a member of CATCH, Concerned About the Children of Harrisburg.  The group formed earlier this year and is advocating for educational reform in the district.

"Throughout the marking period, teachers have the ability to know how students are doing, so when you find prior to the marking period ending that a student is struggling, then that is the time when there is some type of intervention and providing opportunities for that student to earn those grades as opposed to it being gifted to them," said Hansard.

While administrators say the policy gives kids a fighting chance, some say it is a handout.

"Are we truly preparing our students to be responsible, hard-working individuals as a result of this policy?" said Hansard. "If I go to work and I give a poor performance, am I to expect a raise? No. It should be no different."

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