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    The principal defended slashing course grades by saying that the students' performance on accompanying state Regents exams was too poor to justify the course grade their teachers had given them.

    By Davud Andreatta

    The principal at a Brooklyn high school single-handedly slashed the grades of hundreds of students over the summer, sparking outrage among teachers and pupils alike, The Post has learned.

    Lafayette HS principal Jolanta Rohloff shaved between 10 and 15 points from grades in various Regents courses - reducing some passing grades to failing.

    One of the affected students, Claudia Robles, who ended her sophomore year in June with a 70, or a C-minus, in her earth-science course, was stunned to learn from a Post reporter that she now has a 55 - an F.

    "It's not fair," fumed Robles, an 18-year-old Honduran immigrant. "I got a 70, that's what my teacher gave me. I passed the course."

    She was not alone. The Post obtained a list of grade changes for 276 Regents earth-science students at the school.

    Teachers and students interviewed by The Post said there was talk that some grades would be changed, but all of them said they were flabbergasted by the extent of the modifications.

    "I've never seen anything like this," said one veteran teacher, whose grades were altered by Rohloff. "I understand taking an exception to a grade, but to change so many at once is unheard of. Frankly, I'm outraged."

    David Cantor, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, said yesterday that Rohloff had gone too far and that the grades would have to be revised upward.

    Rohloff defended the action by saying that the students' performance on accompanying state Regents exams was too poor to justify the course grade their teachers had given them.

    She advised teachers of the revisions this month in a letter, which stated that course grades would be reduced for any student who did not score 65 or better on the state exam for the course.

    "Some teachers were giving kids very high grades that did not reflect their exams," Rohloff said. "When you pass a child who did not pass the Regents exam, it means you're just pushing him to the next level. I think that is a horrible way to serve our children."

    The Education Department told The Post that it permits a Regents exam score to be taken into account for no more than one-third of a student's final grade.

    "It is clear that this principal is deeply concerned with standards, and that is commendable," Cantor said in an e-mail.

    "Nevertheless, implementation of our policy requires that adjustments along the above lines" - the one-third rule - "be made at Lafayette."

    Saul Cohen, a Regent from Westchester County, said chopping the grades sounded "unfair."

    "I don't think it makes any sense," Cohen said. "I think what a student does over the course of a semester represents a continuous flow of work and it's unfair to automatically take off 'X' number of points on that grade based on one test."

    Students must pass five Regents exams with a score of 65 to graduate from city high schools with a Regents diploma. They may graduate with a less prestigious local diploma by scoring at least 55 on five exams, although that option is being phased out.

    But the exams are traditionally exclusive of the courses, which are taken for credit and are meant to prepare students for the tests.


    — David Andreatta
    New York Post


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