Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Local Parent Complains about Exit Policy at Magnet School

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Local Parent Complains about Exit Policy at Magnet School

Article excerpt

Getting into the Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools isn't easy. Only seven percent of students from each school can get in. Students have to be screened, several standardized test scores are reviewed and more.

But once the hurdle of admittance has been achieved, remaining a student in the schools may be even harder.

Daniel Powell, the father of a third-grader at the Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary School, told the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education Tuesday that the magnet schools exit policy -- how students are dismissed from the schools -- is too harsh and is causing some of the younger students to suffer psychological distress.

"It used to be that some students were allowed to stay the whole school year and then be dismissed in the summer, which was clearly psychologically easier than having to leave at Christmas," Powell said. "Now kids are being dismissed on Christmas break in the middle of the school year. That's hard, because they're having to go to a different school in the middle of the school year, and other kids are asking them, 'Why are you here?'

"These kids know why they're being kicked out, and they can no longer be with the friends they made at the magnet school."

The Tuscaloosa magnet elementary and middle schools are part of the International Baccalaureate program -- they use a standardized, advanced international curriculum accepted in 138 countries -- and as such, they follow IB rules, including an exit policy that states if students do not maintain a C average of 70 or higher in all core classes at all times, they will be dismissed.

The policy does, however, allow students a nine-week probation period to pull up their grades. Also, school administrators create action plans with students whose grades are slipping, which spells out specific steps students can take to improve.

Powell said he understands that IB requires the exit policy, but he thinks it should be re-examined and more clearly communicated to parents.

"I still think that's very unfortunate, because psychologically, it is very harmful for children as young as 7 and 8 years old to be required to change schools because they don't make the grades," he said. …

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