Tuesday, June 18, 2013


With the debacle that is the school system merger, several changes are filtering down to the "stakeholders" from the transitional board. One of these changes is wording to remove the allowance of adding points to the quarter and semester grades of students enrolled in honors, AP, and IB courses.

Basically, they want to remove the weighting. No extra help for the fact that you had summer work to complete, that you've moved through the year at a faster clip, had more homework, reading, or labs to finish. So, if you work your butt off and get a 91 in honors biology, you won't get that 3 points to make it a 94. You get a B, not an A.

As you can expect, parents are in an uproar. The kids have already selected their classes and changing a schedule now is like moving a mountain. Also factoring into this equation is the state policy of awarding diplomas with "distinction" to students who take a more difficult schedule all four years. Will students/families back off from loading up on the honors and AP courses? You need to have a combination of 3 honors/AP classes every year to get that special label.

I don't like this potential policy change, but the boy will continue to take the same honors and AP classes his sisters did. If his GPA suffers a bit, so be it. For us, that more rigorous course work equates to a better score on the ACT, and that is the test that enabled both girls to attend school with free tuition.

The board keeps tinkering away. Folks cry foul. They reconsider what they were going to change and back off.

That may happen with this.


Lisa Shafer said...

I'm curious about the school merger. Did I miss a post where you explained that? Probably.
As for the weighted grades, sorry to make you unhappy, but this 25-year veteran of teaching gifted kids has always disagreed with that concept. If someone signs up for a harder class, s/he should be willing to accept that it's harder to get a good grade in that class. I loathe the movement to get everyone into the top classes. Not everyone belongs in the top classes. Naturally, I believe, though, that there should be other honors or advanced classes for those who fall between "regular" and the difficult AP and IB programs.
Yes, I'm sure the current group will feel cheated because the rules changed back to what they used to be. But at least they'll know they actually earned the grade instead of having it given to them.
(Yes, I had 4 AP classes myself in high school -- 30 years ago when no grades were weighted. Yes, I did PLENTY of summer work and extra work. Yes, I earned As in every single one of those classes every single term. It can be done. Really.)

Liz said...

I've been posting about the merger off and on, never did a full on rant about what is happening.

Long story short, the big city system went out of the education business and forced a merger with the much smaller county system, but they will retain a voting majority on the board due to population size.

As common elsewhere, the city system is rife with problems, financial and societal. The county system was running fairly well. They are trying to create a "one size fits all" system...never works.

The grade thing...I went to a private high school and all of our courses would be considered by today's standards as honors/college prep.

My main beef is that you can't roll out a change like this in June. It should have been discussed in January. Kids will be trying to rework their schedules and creating havoc for the counselors at the start of what is going to already be a tumultuous new year.

Your comment doesn't make me unhappy. I understand your point. My true problem stems with the poor way this is being handled, rolled out, explained. If they feel this change is needed, then so be it. But, give folks a chance to adjust to the change and make decisions about what direction they want their students to take. Also, explain the thought process behind the change. No explanation was provided or offered.

BUT, I just learned that our interim superintendent is pulling this from the meeting agenda and not going to change a thing for this next school year.

I have a feeling his inbox exploded once parents in the county got wind of what was supposed to be coming.

My girls very rarely benefited from the 'bump' of the 3 or 5 points. They earned the A on their own and the extra just elevated it a bit.

Lisa Shafer said...

Yes, it does sound very sudden. My guess is that -- if your school district is like the one for which I work -- the change was decided upon months ago and announced at the time when the officials thought it would cause the least backlash.
Our school district did this with our beloved academic team. We had been one of the pilot schools in the nation for the National Academic League some 22 years ago, but, without any warning or discussion on the part of students, teachers, parents, or even administrators, it was announced in a quick, explanation-free e-mail to principals last JULY (mid-summer break, of course) that our district would no longer be participating.
People kicked and screamed and fumed -- and nothing changed. The decision had been made long before, and the deed was done before it was announced.

Liz said...

Wow. I love how administrations make decisions for the "stakeholders" when that group is never consulted! The most horrible aspect of this whole process is watching what is happening to staff and teachers. Salary, benefits, positions, all being toyed with to what end.

In July our town will vote to separate from the new mega district and form their own municipal system. This wasn't allowed under state law until just last month. Many other towns will be doing the same thing.

The economy of scale they were hoping to achieve may be gone in a year, if it ever really came into reality to begin with.

It is always about the money and the power, isn't it?