To weigh or not to weigh grades for 2003 seniors in advanced placement courses is the question on the minds of students, parents, teachers, administrators and Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees.
"It became a way we could encourage students to take more rigorous courses without hurting their class ranking. Advanced placement courses are set by international guidelines and we thought students in the upper 10 percent of their class would be the ones taking them. But it turned out that the students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.5 took more AP courses," Kathy Knust, curriculum coordinator, said.
The original intent was to benefit students by enticing them to take more rigorous classes, thus increasing ISTEP and SAT test scores by giving students the opportunity to increase their knowledge.
Another benefit is the more difficult courses would have a different grade scale. A student who might have only earned a B because the course was so difficult might actually receive a B+. This sounds great to everyone. But there is a snag.
A few years ago, the school board approved weighted grades for students in the core 40 and academic honors classes. It was not done with advanced placement classes because they were not offered at the time.
The board voted to weigh grades for the newly adopted advanced placement courses at Clay City and Northview High Schools this past fall. According to each board member, they were confused by wording of the motion and thought this procedure would begin for freshmen entering the 2004 class. They didn't realize the motion they voted to pass put the policy into effect with this senior class.
The problem is the classes seniors took as juniors, without the benefit of weighted grades, might have brought down their grade point average because they might have earned a lesser grade. It is possible a student may have chosen to wait and take the classes his senior year to avoid lowering his GPA.
Another issue is the timeline for submitting transcripts for scholarships and other paperwork to colleges before the first, early, deadline of Jan. 15. Will transcripts include weighted grades and will any student's chance of receiving college placement or scholarships be jeopardized?
Clay City students have already received their grades. Northview students were to receive their grades today. But they won't because the board is not sure what to do after some parents and students voiced their concern at last night's school board meeting that this policy was unfair to the senior class.
"I'm not sure there's a fair way to solve this. What's fair is relative. It's clear that we just stepped in it," Len Fischer, board member, said. "I think the only thing we can do is go backwards and take the weight off the grades for this year."
"I feel badly that we changed the rules at the end of the game on the class of 2003. No one thought through the repercussions to this class," Terry Barr, board member, said.
The argument of turning back the clock and reversing the decision, Knust said, is sophomores, juniors and seniors would receive no benefit now and would not sign up for the AP courses.
"Our problem is now and we need to solve these problems today. We need to increase ISTEP and SAT scores today and give the lower classmen the incentive to take the AP courses. Our counselors are able to send both weighted and non-weighted transcripts to college admissions without any negative reaction," Knust said.
Steve Grigsby, board member, made a motion for board members to review this decision with guidance counselors, teachers and administrators and make a decision at a later date.
Taking the Jan. 15 deadline into consideration, the board voted to continue the meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at North Clay Middle School library. The question of whether or not to weigh grades for the senior class of 2003 will be answered then.
For more on business conducted at the school board meeting, please read tomorrow's edition of The Brazil Times.