Earlier in the year, the Board approved having weighted grades in certain high school classes beginning next year. The committee that recommended this change also recommended eliminating class rank, valedictorian, and salutatorian beginning with this years sophomore class, but creating distinguished graduates based on multiple factors, not simply grade point average. The Board also approved this, with the criteria for distinguished graduates being developed by the fall.
Finally, the committee studied our grading scale. The present system went into effect in 1997 and aligned with many university scales. However, scales have changed since then. For example, one of our high school students can take a dual college/high school credit course, get a numerical grade of 92% and receive an A- from the college and a B+ from Westfield High School. This places our students at a disadvantage because it makes the high school transcript appear weaker, and certainly is inconsistent. So, after thorough study, the committee is recommending the scale be changed to 90-100 = A; 80-89 = B; 70-79 = C; and 65-69 = D, bringing our scale in line with colleges and universities.
Next: The end of the legislative session and the impact on Westfield Washington Schools.
In an earlier blog, I referred to weighted grades. The Board agreed to proceed with implementing weighted grades for 2009-10 and will approve the courses eligible for weighting when they approve high school course offerings in December.
We are adopting weighted grades because if we don’t, our students will be at a disadvantage when applying for and being accepted by many universities. One side issue that has developed is that many college applications ask if students are in the top 30% of their class, and if they are not, the applicant is automatically excluded. If schools do not have class rank, then G.P.A. is the controlling variable. A student in Westfield with a 3.2 G.P.A. right now, prior to weighted grades, is not in the top 30% of the class, yet has a G.P.A. higher than students in some schools who are in the top 30%. So having class rank appears to penalize our students. Many schools have dropped class rank (Carmel, Zionsville, Cathedral, Brebeuf) because of this, and we are looking at doing it also.
A question has been asked about full day kindergarten (FDK). The legislature did approve some funding for FDK, but not at the level that other students are funded. Thus, FDK is more expensive than two ½ day classes or another full day class like first grade.
We have two FDK classes that are offered to students who qualify through a screening process. Since the classes are so under funded, we do not plan to add more classes until the state funds at the same level as others because we’ll need twice the number of classroom teachers. However, these two classes have helped us prepare for all FDK classes. We are also preparing to build more kindergarten classrooms to accommodate the additional classroom space that is needed since FDK will mean doubling the number of classrooms needed.
Next: School Funding