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VISD school board discusses class rank policy, grading guidelines

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 21, 2012 at 3:21 a.m.
Updated Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.


IF YOU GO

WHAT: Special Victoria school board meeting

WHERE: 102 Profit Drive

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday

When it comes to applying to universities in the state of Texas, class rank is on the top of every student's priority list.

The Victoria school board discussed in a workshop on Monday a policy that would give students enrolled in dual credit, advanced placement and pre-advanced placement courses a bump in their grade point average.

If the policy is adopted, it would go into effect with the 2013-14 freshman class.

Xochitlinda Gonzalez, 13, is an eighth-grader taking pre-advanced placement classes at Cade Middle School this year.

"If this policy passed, I would probably be encouraged to take more pre-AP classes because it's hard to get into college if you're not in that top 10 percent," Xochitlinda said.

She said that it isn't fair for a student taking regular classes to get the same amount of credit because of the increased amount of work an advanced placement course presents.

"This boost would make it a level-playing field," she said.

The proposed extra weight would increase the dual credit and advance placement multiplier from 1.10 to 1.15 and the pre-advanced placement multiplier from 1.05 to 1.10.

Diane Boyett, school district communications director, said the policy would reduce the fear behind taking an advanced course load.

"With the weighting, it creates a more level playing field," Boyett said. "They want to take classes that aren't going to negatively impact their GPA."

The district takes the final grade for a student's advanced courses and multiples it by the multipliers.

For example, if a student finishes an advanced placement course with an 85, the final grade is multiplied by 1.10, which generates a 93.5 course average.

With the new policy in place, that final grade would increase from 93.5 to 97.75.

"As a district, we encourage students to challenge themselves," said school board president Tami Keeling.

The district's grading regulation was also discussed at the meeting. The grading regulation is being worked up by Superintendent Robert Jaklich and a consultant with the Texas Association of School Boards.

While the school board is not voting on the grading regulation, Keeling said Jaklich and the consultant have welcomed their input on the regulation.

"It's a great courtesy that they've involved the board in the discussion," Keeling said. "We need to make sure we're passing policies that support the regulation so that we're all on the same page."

The revision by Jaklich and the consultant deals with plotting out more concrete guidelines when it comes to re-doing assignments and re-testing.

In Texas, a student is permitted to re-take an exam or re-do an assignment if they receive a failing grade.

In recent board meetings, the board has discussed whether that courtesy should be extended to students who pass exams, but want a better grade.

Boyett said some teachers in the district already allow students to retest for a better grade, even if they don't fail.

The ironing out of the details comes from a need for consistency across all grade levels.

"It's about striking a balance between giving kids a chance and the opportunity to slack off," Boyett said.

The board is slated to make a decision on the class rank and weight policy at its 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

The board is also expected to adopt its 2012-13 school budget and the tax rate at that meeting.

"It's really great as a board member to talk to teachers and principals about what this is going to look like on ground-level," Keeling said. "You want a policy that is in the best interest of the students."

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