This year’s seniors can still get an A-plusFour students who are high school seniors asked the School District 833 School Board to reverse the decision to stop giving ‘A-plus’ grades for this school year only.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Four students who are high school seniors asked the School District 833 School Board to reverse the decision to stop giving ‘A-plus’ grades for this school year only.
The board’s usual practice is to listen to people who ask to speak to the board during the “public comment” slot in the regular school board agenda. At the Sept. 25, meeting, however, it made an exception and approved using the banned grade for this year.
Clara Oromendia, Jon Van Keulen and Aarti Anand of Woodbury High School, and Molly Dupuis from Park High School made the case on behalf of their classmates.
They also asked students to sign an on-line petition that was signed by 393 seniors, 82 juniors and sophomores, 42 parents and community members and 32 teachers and staff members.
When the board approved giving “weighted grades” to students who complete Advanced Placement classes, it approved the plan for ninth, 10th and 11th-grades but not for seniors.
The board reasoned that a new grading system, offering 20 percent higher grades for specified classes, might interfere with the GPAs of those who will graduate in June. Students who already took AP classes would be at a disadvantage to those who take as many AP classes as possible to raise their grade averages.
The board also ended the practice of giving an A-plus to any student for exceptional work.
Some teachers never give A-pluses and some are more generous, said Randy Zipf, district superintendent for secondary instruction. The practice is applied unevenly, he said.
Van Keulen said there’s currently no incentive for students to do A-plus work, an option in some classes and one this year’s students have had throughout their high school experience.
“It punishes the hardest working students,” he said.
Being able to add points to GPAs will hurt students’ abilities to gain entrance to some colleges, said Dupuis, and qualifying for scholarships. Some colleges do not recalculate GPAs for students from schools without weighted-grade systems, she said.
Anand said teachers told them they don’t mind the inconvenience of two grading lists if it helps students.
“I didn’t fully understand the implications,” said Board Member Ellen Ayers, who made the motion to rescind. “GPAs will go down and all seniors will be affected.”
“It’s a difficult one not to support,” said Board Chair Ron Kath, who voted against the motion.
Kath said the board had a thorough dialogue with teachers about grading. “Our teachers need support,” he said. “They would have to re-tool.”
The vote was 5-2 with Kath and Board Member Marsha Adou voting “no.” and board members Jim Gelbmann, Tracy Brunnette, Denise Kapler, Leslee Boyd and Ayers voting in favor.