Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees voted earlier this week to rescind weighted grades for pre-advanced and advanced placement courses.
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 new 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 the 2003 senior class.
The original intent was to benefit students by enticing them to take more rigorous classes, thus in turn increasing ISTEP and SAT test scores by giving students the opportunity to increase their knowledge. Another benefit to students is the more difficult courses would have a different grade scale. An example would be a student who might have only earned a B because the course was so difficult to actually receive a B+.
The problem is that those 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 the student may have chosen to wait and take the classes their senior year without the risk of lowering their GPA.
Board members decided to review this decision with guidance counselors, teachers and administrators after the last board meeting and reconvene at a later date.
"The board should not be given any heat because of this. They were just following administrative and teacher recommendations," Thomas Rohr, school superintendent, said. "We thought we could take care of this with the senior class only, but it applies to juniors, sophomores and freshmen as well. The only reasonable thing to do is to rescind the November action and make weighted grades in pre-advanced and advanced placement courses effective for entering freshmen in the class of 2003/2004."
Paul Sinders, Clay City High School principal, called Rohr to let him know students are concerned that the board will take away weighted grades. Students there realized how the procedure effected them, but Northview students and faculty did not. Clay City would prefer to keep weighted grades and consider Northview separately.
"Currently 20 percent of the top 20 are enrolled in AP courses across the board (each grade level). This may not change the class rank for the top one or two, but it may change for the 14th or 15th," Kathy Knust, curriculum coordinator, said.
She said staff looked at different AP student situations throughout all grade levels with various combinations of weighted grades and non-weighted grades to try to predict potential grade and rank outcomes.
"Whatever decision is made, the class of 2003 can feel confident that we have looked at every possible scenario. No matter what combination we tried, the top 10 percent remained the top 10 percent. No student could say they lost a spot (in college scholarship or acceptance) because of the board," Knust said.
Len Fischer, board member, said he thought both schools ought to be treated the same and if that was Rohr's recommendation, he could not support it.
Jon Hull, board president, asked what the repercussions would be if the weighted grade policy were different.
"I think both schools need to be on the same playing field. If we don't, we'll be back here in a month or two or a year or two looking at this same problem," Steve Grigsby, board vice-president, said.
All board members were in agreement.
Rohr said rescinding the policy at Clay City would not cause a problem. He just wanted the board to know Clay City's story. He also said that if AP courses are as rigorous as staff says they are, (and with no student reward) there may not be enough enrollment in the AP courses the next two or three years to continue the program.
That, Knust said, is the main argument to not rescind the vote.
Rohr revised his recommendation to rescind the board's action of Nov. 14 to add weighted grades to pre-AP and AP courses at both Clay City and Northview High Schools. He further recommended the board authorize the weighing of grades for pre-AP and AP courses for entering freshmen in the class of 2003-2004.
The board voted unanimously to pass this recommendation.