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School Board discusses changing weighted grades

November 21, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The possibility of increasing the weight of Advanced Placement courses was discussed at a Washington County Board of Education work session Tuesday.

Boyd Michael III, the school system's executive director of secondary education, proposed to the School Board that the weight of an AP class be changed from an "A" equal to 4.72 on a 4.0 grade-point scale to an "A" equal to 5.0.

He said more students would be drawn to taking AP courses and would be less intimidated by the possibility of ruining their grade-point averages if the School Board voted to change the weighted grade. Under the proposal, a "B" would be worth 4.0 in an AP class, the current equivalent of an "A" in a non-Advanced Placement course.

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Although the School Board did not vote on the matter at the Tuesday work session, it agreed that the first reading of the proposed policy change should be voted on during one of its first December business meetings so a course booklet containing the proposed change could be delivered to schools in a timely manner.

The possibility of holding a town meeting on the proposed policy change was discussed, but no date was set.

Michael said if the weighted grade were approved by the School Board, it would not affect the current senior class. After talking with high school principals and counselors, Michael said it was recommended that this year's junior class be the first to be affected by the change. He said if the School Board waited to implement the proposed policy with this year's ninth- and 10th-graders, it would not immediately see the benefits.

He said students in honors courses would get a weighted grade of 4.72 for an "A" as opposed to a 4.0, which is what they receive now.

Michael said it currently is feasible for a student taking less rigorous courses to have a grade-point average comparable to that of a student taking more AP courses. He said the change would ensure that class rank and grade-point average represent the level of rigor in students' academic schedules.

During the business meeting Tuesday night, Michael said that last year, 601 students were enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, while this year 788 students are enrolled in AP courses.

He said during the work session that he's had a positive reaction to the proposed change from people with whom he's shared the idea.

Brian Williamson, the student member on the school board, said if it doesn't hurt students' grade-point averages, he doesn't oppose the change. He said he feared, however, that some students might take Advanced Placement classes so they could work less and still get a "B," or a 4.0.

"It's going to better prepare our students to go to college," Michael said. "We're really trying to push all our students up."

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