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Current system penalizes honor students taking seventh classes

Morris High studying solutions to glitch of weighted grades

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 10:00 a.m. CDT

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School administrators are working on options to solve an unintended glitch with Morris Community High School’s weighted grading scale and grade-point-average system.

At Monday’s meeting, the Morris Community High School District 101 school board asked Principal Kelly Hussey to address the glitch and bring some possible solutions to the board next month.

With the transition from a four-block schedule to a traditional seven-period day last year, some upper classmen’s four-year plans were altered due to class options changing. For example, some students looking to take Spanish 3 and 4 their senior year were offered a course during the summer to keep them on track with their plans, but some students chose to take on other elective classes instead.

Anyone who chose not to stay on their intended track ended up having their GPA potentials change and, as a result, their chances at becoming valedictorian or salutatorian changed as well, explained Hussey Tuesday.

Current freshmen and sophomores have been able to accommodate their four-year plans despite the class schedule change, but the seven-period day and the weighted grading scale still causes a hiccup with the GPA potentials.

Currently, upper classmen with a goal of becoming valedictorian are sometimes better off taking a study hall rather than an actual class for the seventh period of their day during their senior year.

Taking a study hall ensures their GPA total, whereas getting a weighted grade in another course could change it.

Study halls were not available with the four-block schedule, so all students took eight classes. 

Board members Dr. James Allen and Karen Meucci said the district is discouraging learning by having in place a system that encourages students to take a study hall over a class where they can learn something new.

We want to foster learning, not the opposite, and that’s what we’re doing now,” Allen said. Meucci said the students’ manipulation of the system goes against the district’s school improvement plan.

Allen suggested creating a rule that if a student takes a seventh course and receives an A, it can be treated as an audit course, which is a pass/fail course that would not affect their GPA.

“If we try to even this up, does it hurt someone else?” asked member Jim Paulson.

“Over time, we have avoided some solutions because it’s not good for everyone,” answered Hussey. Hussey said Tuesday his goal is to find a fair solution for all students.

“The board is asking for us to take a step further by not allowing a student who wants an additional course for experience, career interest or other personal reasons to negatively impact their class rank because that might discourage them for taking an extra course,” he said.

“We’re trying to close off the loopholes placing students in circumstances beyond our control, but there is a ripple effect to every change,” Hussey continued. “A change for one person might impact another group of students who we don’t anticipate.”

Before jumping to a solution, he wants to research all impacts and make sure it is fair.

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