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School Board passes grade weight increases

January 07, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

In an effort to convince more students to take Advanced Placement classes, the Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday voted 7-0 to raise the weight of the college level courses by one point for each letter grade.

Under the policy, an "A" in an Advanced Placement course - college level courses taught according to a national curriculum linked to a national assessment - would equal 5 points. A "B" in an Advanced Placement course would equal 4 points. Four points is the current weight for an A in a nonweighted course.

Currently, an "A" in Advanced Placement courses is worth 4.72 points.

Patricia Abernethy, the school system's deputy superintendent for instruction, said under the proposal, eight honors courses would have a weight of 4.72 for an "A," but all other honors courses would not be weighted.

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The weighting of course credits is used to determine grade point average (GPA) and ultimately to determine class rank at the end of the senior year.

Seniors this year would not be affected by the change, she said.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said there seems to be a misconception that by raising the point value of an Advanced Placement course the curriculum would be dumbed down, but she said that is not the case.

"I think this is one way for us to sweeten the pot for our students because we want them to feel motivated to do this," she said.

School board member Bernadette M. Wagner said the same work would be required of students, but the incentive will be a greater reward for their effort.

Students "overwhelmingly support the new grading system," said Brian Williamson, the student representative to the School Board.

"Why not do it, really?," he asked.

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