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Board hears a broader resolution on middle school credit issue

April 26, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Public School middle schoolers might be able to start eliminating their high school credits now.

A resolution updating the county's graduation requirements would allow middle school students to receive high school credit for classes meeting the outcomes and rigor of approved courses in grades 9-12.

The resolution, which passed by a Washington County Board of Education vote of 5-2 on its first hearing, is broader than a resolution passed in February by the board, which initially considered allowing students to receive credit for specific courses that would not be counted toward their high school record.

Monday night's resolution would allow students to use their middle school classes toward their high school requirements, and parents could opt to have grades earned in the classes figured into their student's high school grade point average.

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The resolution currently does not indicate what year the new rules would go into effect. Members would have to approve the language on second reading to make it school policy.

Board Vice President Jacqueline Fischer and member Edward Forrest said they still were not comfortable with the idea.

Forrest said he worried students would take advanced classes in middle school only to lighten their loads in high school. He said the chance of having a student fail to live up to his or her potential could not allow him to vote for the measure.

Member Bernadette Wagner said the resolution would allow students more time in their high school schedules to pursue their interests and tap their potential.

"I think to me, this policy represents providing options," Wagner said.

Boyd Michael, executive director of secondary education, warned the policy, if ultimately approved, could make it possible for students to graduate as early as 10th grade. He said the grade-point provision also could create disparities. Students with identical grades and classes could wind up with different grade-point averages and class ranks, depending on whether their parents had decided to include their qualifying middle school marks with their high school averages.

According to Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent for instruction, 10 counties currently allow middle school students to receive high school credit for certain courses. One other county is looking at the issue, Abernethy said.

Abernethy told the board she collected staff input when the previous motion, which addressed specific classes such as foreign language, algebra and geometry, was considered. She told the board she plans to try gathering input again on the newest resolution.

The resolution could appear before the board on second reading again in several weeks.

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