Monday, January 10, 2011

Course Weight Discussion - What I Will Recommend To School Committee This Week

Back before Christmas Vacation, I wrote a blog post about our discussions to alter the way we weight courses at BHS.  This discussion began after some students and parents had questioned why Advanced Placement courses received the same weight as Honors courses. Our current grading scale is shown below.


There were 29 comments on the post with some differing opinions on what the right course of action would be as we looked at the two options below as possible changes.

Option 1

Option 2

Before making a final decision, it is important to talk about one concern that was echoed in a few of the comments regarding a 5.0 hampering a students chance at a "prestigious college."  I want to assure parents and students that we would never make a decision that would hamper the ability of BHS students to get into the most competitive colleges. In addition, we would not make such a decision without speaking to college admissions representatives.

Having said this, we surveyed over 50 colleges and NONE said that our students would be negatively impacted by the type of change we are proposing. In addition, many of these schools stated that they recalculate students GPA's based on their own formula and give added weight for AP and Honors classes. Those that do not recalculate the GPA stated that they look at the rigor of the student's overall program.

The second decision between our two proposals is whether or not College Prep 1 (CP 1) and College Prep 2 (CP 2) courses would be weighted differently.  This discussion brought a great deal more discussion amongst staff as we discussed the reasons that we would want to make a change from the current system which give CP 1 courses greater weight. The rationale for making a change here and giving both CP 1 and CP 2 courses the same weight are as follows:

First, many of our inclusion classes are offered at the CP 2 level and because so many students on Individual Education Plans take these courses, there could be an argument made that we are not treating students on IEP's equitably.  In addition, a CP 2 weighting in the current system is actually weighted less than an elective course. This means that a student taking a core course such as English at the CP 2 level  would receive greater weight for an elective such as Food Prep or Microsoft Office.

Therefore, I will recommend Option 1 above which will give a greater weight to AP courses and put College Prep 1 and College Prep 2 courses the same weight.  The recommendation this Tuesday during the School Committee Meeting will be a first reading which will allow people two weeks to voice there opinion on these changes prior to a final reading and approval on Tuesday, January 25th. If this plan is implemented it would be in place for next year's 9th graders (Class of 2015) and all all future classes.

As always, feedback is welcome and needed!

15 comments:

  1. This makes so much sense and shows a lot of hard work and thoughtful consideration. Thanks to you and the Guidance Dept. staff. If I don't quite follow you about the CP1/CP2 classes it is partly because I don't know the terminology ("inclusion class").

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  2. When will this become effective? Will you recalculate the GPA of the current BHS student body? Are you planning to move to deciles as previously noted and will this be part of your recommedation to the school committee?

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  3. Great question on the last comment! I knew I forgot something. I just added in a sentence on the end of the post that clarifies that this proposal, if approved, would start with next year's 9th grade class (Class of 2015) and future classes.

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  4. This is great! While on the subject of classes I would like to suggest getting rid of the requirement to take 2 electives from the 500's. I just don't see a need for this and is a disadvantage for the kids who want to go into computer science because the further classes aren't part of the 500's.

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  5. I wonder if the best option isn't to make a scale that give all your students a 4.0 or better somehow, while still allowing for class rank to be as legitimate as possible. This would put all your students at a huge advantage at a college too lazy to recalculate but not hurt anyone's chances at the more competitive and honest colleges that do recalculate.

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  6. I really appreciate Guidance and Administration's consideration of the current system.

    I think the proposed system is the best choice of the three for our school.

    On an unrelated topic, I agree with "Sophomore Parent" that the next major change should be removing the 500-900 elective requirement, or changing it to include classes such as computer sciences such as Visual Basic and C++ and writing classes such as journalism and creative writing.

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  7. I'm all for changing the system. however, I understand what you mean about the option 1 and weighing them the same. But, I don't find it fair that I take several CP1(and a few honors) classes that get further in the curriculum and come with more responsibilities. otherwise, if I wasn't worried about college, I would just go off and take all CP2, just because they could be weighed the same. I just don't think people who take CP1 classes should be cheated(for a lack of a better word) in their Gpa because of the reweighting.

    as with other comments, i also agree on the changing of the 500-900 elective requirement. I don't find many of them applying to me, i'd probably take them for fun merely, fun is always nice. But I'd prefer to be able to take other electives that arent included in that or just taking another class some year. like two math classes instead of a elective.

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  8. Keep the current system, and simply add weight for AP classes. I've never heard complaints about anything other than that. Perhaps make APs out of 5, and not alter the other levels.

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  9. BHS Senior, I've heard complaints from teachers and students that are not just about adding weight for AP classes. The current system does not weigh Honors classes enough in comparison to CP1 classes. The new proposals are good because they not only give more weight to APs, but give more weight to Honors classes also and therefore urge students to challenge themselves.

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  10. i feel strongly against the new proposal. i feel that level 3 classes should be the base grades like in the original. in the new proposal, anyone who takes level three classes is being cheated out of points they should get.

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  11. I feel that option 2 is the best because both the Honors and AP classes get more credit for their hardwork. I also feel that the college prep 1 and 2 should be weighted differently because the two levels are drastically different.

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  12. I am all for weighting AP classes higher. I think Option 2 truly differentiates the levels. This will unfortunately not be used until my children are gone, however I have been asking for this for a few years and am glad to see the forward progress you are making. You are to be commended for bringing the topic up and moving forward with it.

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  14. Mr Larkin,
    By weighting CP1 and CP2 classes the same, are you preparing to eliminate one level and combine these two levels? We have heard from BHS teachers that this is the long-term plan. Please clarify.

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  15. That is a good question in regard to CP1 and CP2 courses! We have no plans to pursue the elimination of CP2 courses at BHS. This discussion was one that took place two years ago and after a great deal of feedback from staff on both, I have made it clear that this idea is not one that will pursued further by me. Decisions of this type need to be made by school communities and not one administrator.

    Thanks for asking!

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