Beaufort High students won't earn credit for tutoring, being teachers' assistants

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMay 17, 2012 

Kim Corcoran asks a question during a meeting with a member of the Beaufort County School District on Thursday evening at Beaufort High School. Corcoran's daughter, a sophmore at the school, was affected by the decision not to give student teaching assistants a credit.

SARAH WELLIVER

More than 200 Beaufort High School students won't receive credit for working this year as teaching assistants, tutors and interns.

That's because former principal Dan Durbin listed the students as taking study hall, a non-credit granting course. Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief, said credit can't granted because the work isn't a course with a syllabus and expectations for students.

At a meeting Thursday night, about 15 parents said they felt students were being punished for something that wasn't their fault. Among those attending the meeting was Durbin

Alford explained that in 2011, the district set a policy that high school students wouldn't earn credit for working as teaching assistants.

This school year, some Beaufort High students were allowed to continue as teaching assistants. The majority of the about 220 students affected, Durbin said, were either participating in an internship or tutoring other students who were struggling to pass state exams.

Students had earned credit for the tutoring program in the 2010-11 school year, but Durbin said the district told him the credit had been incorrectly coded. Each course in South Carolina has a specific code that corresponds to the credit granted.

In order to continue the program while either finding the correct code or developing a state-approved tutoring program, Durbin said he enrolled students in a study hall. Parents were not notified of the change or about any concerns with the program.

When Durbin resigned in February after admitting to changing some student grades, students in the program remained enrolled in study hall.

Parents received a certified letter earlier this month telling them their student would not be earning a grade or credit for the course.

Helga Crandall thinks that's the right decision. Her daughter, senior Samantha, asked to be a teaching assistant this school year and was told by the guidance counselor that the course was no longer offered, she said by phone Thursday.

When she found out students were serving as teaching assistants or tutoring, including several students her daughter was vying against for valedictorian, she was concerned her daughter's class ranking would drop because others were getting "free" A's, she said.

But parents at the meeting Thursday said they felt their students had completed work and were now being cheated. Parents were frustrated that they learned of the problem so late in the school year.

"If they had reached out to us in the beginning, it wouldn't be as bad," said Crystal Legare, whose son, senior Torrence was enrolled in an internship and was a teaching assistant for two teachers. He would have enrolled in another course, she said. "He would have taken at least something, instead of not getting anything at all," she said.

Students can go through a process to have the tutoring or internship hours count as community service in order to earn a "distinguished diploma," Alford said.

Related content

  1. SLED to investigate grade changes at Beaufort ; March 8, 2012
  2. School district releases data on Beaufort High principal's grade changes; March 6, 2012
  3. Parents demand answers following Durbin's resignation; Feb. 27, 2012
  4. VIDEO: Durbin's resignation from Beaufort High prompts outpour of support; Feb. 24, 2012
  5. Beaufort High principal says he changed grades to help students; Feb. 23, 2012
  6. Beaufort High principal Dan Durbin to resign Friday; Feb. 22, 2012

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