LEWISTON — At Lewiston High School, a student who has an average grade of 98 in physical education is failing the class, Principal Jake Langlais said.

That’s because, Langlais said, the student has a grade of less than 76 in one of the gym class’s 10 standards.

Many students are in the same boat. Because of a grading change made last spring, 359 students — 99 freshmen, 82 sophomores, 96 juniors and 82 seniors — are failing one class because one of their grades for one standard is less than 76, Langlais said. That’s despite the fact that all of those students have overall averages of 76 or higher.

And more than half of the students — 833 — are failing one class because they don’t have a 76 in one or more standards, even though their overall average is 76 or better.

The situation is not the norm, he said.

The Lewiston School Committee will consider recommendations to address the grading change when it meets at 6:45 p.m. Monday in the Dingley Building.


“We have now identified the adverse consequences of the more rigorous requirements added last spring,” Superintendent Bill Webster said in a memo to the School Committee.

What happened is that new grading policies were adopted in May when proficiency based grading of 1-4 was thrown out after months of controversy. The new grading policy had good intentions to challenge students more, Langlais said.

A grade of 76 became the new D. A grade of 75 became the new F.

The new policy requires students to get at least a 76 in each and every standard in a course to get credit. If students get less than 76 in even one of 10 to 15 standards, they don’t pass.

Speaking of the 833 students now failing a class, Langlais said, “these aren’t kids missing standards who have a grade of 50. These are kids who have a 76 or better. If the shift isn’t made, 833 kids will not get credit.”

When the School Committee meets Monday night, it will discuss whether the rules should be changed to allow students to pass a course with an average grade of 76.


In a French class last week, students said they’re hoping the change happens.

“Getting 76 for every standard is very stressful for a lot of students,” said Nathaniel Robichaud, 16, a junior. “If you fail just one of those standards, you fail the class.”

To have 359 students failing because they’re not getting 76 on every standard “is alarming,” Robichaud said. “Hopefully they change it to be a 76 average. That would save a lot of students from failure.”

Corbin Martel, 16, said he likes the goal of challenging students more. Making sure all students meet expectations “really gives an opportunity for everyone to have equal knowledge,” he said.

But with 10 to 15 standards in a class, “and you fail one, you don’t get your credit. It’s unnerving,” Martel said.

French teacher Paula Gerencer said students in her years 3 and 4 French courses must meet 15 standards, including being able to write a compound, complex sentence in French. Also, can they carry on a discussion in French? Can they understand and interpret something they read and hear in French?


Report cards are due to go out, Langlais said, but they’re being held up pending any School Committee decision.

“Concerns I have as principal is we have transcripts that need to go out to colleges. We have report cards,” Langlais said. “We have a policy that was well-intended, to make sure we’re rigorous and closing learning gaps. The thinking was if we hold students accountable, they’ll do it. But what we’re finding is there’s no room for error.”

Some teachers favor changing the policy so standards are averaged at a passing grade of 76, but they want a system that will stay in place.

“Stop moving the goal posts,” said high school math teacher Samantha Garnett Sias, president of the Lewiston Education Association. Because of the changing grading policies, “teachers are feeling rudderless. Even veterans who’ve been in this for 20-plus years feel aimless.”

The number of students failing a class doesn’t show the whole picture, she said, such as how many students are working with teachers to improve grades.

“Whatever the policy, with the right support teachers can help students meet higher goals,” she said. “Students don’t back away from rigor. They will rise to the occasion.”


Langlais said many students aren’t even aware they’re failing classes. When they look at their grades online, it shows the overall average. To find out whether they’re getting at least a 76 in every standard, “you have to click a few more times,” he said.

Corbin Martel, a sophomore at Lewiston High School, likes the idea of increasing rigor in classrooms, but he believes the current policy ought to be changed. With 10 to 15 standards in a class, “and you fail one, you don’t get your credit. It’s unnerving,” Martel said. The School Committee will discuss grading policy Monday night. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Lewiston High School senior Mackenzie Richard, 17, says the grading policy went wrong in mandating students get at least a 76 in every individual standard. “I’d like to see them go with the 76 average,” she said. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Having to get a passing grade of 76 for each of the 15 standards in a class “is very stressful for a lot of students,” said Nathaniel Robichaud, 16, a junior. “If you fail just one of those standards, you fail the class.” (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

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