School board OKs change in GPA calculation

Thursday, January 23, 2003

To the untrained eye, Marshall's average high school student grade-point average will drop dramatically next year. In reality, the district is moving from an 11-point system to the more common 4.0-scale.

MHS counselor Kim Adams was present at the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Education to continue discussions of the change she and MHS Principal Steve Grammer proposed in November 2002. The board also discussed allowing students to take some classes on a pass/fail basis rather than for a grade.

More common system

Adams said the reasoning behind switching to the four-point scale is that it is by far the more common system. Most colleges use it, meaning MHS students have to recalculate their GPA when applying for admission.

In addition, many students transferring into the district have to have their grade point averages transferred to the 11-point scale because they have been on a four-point system.

The current plan is for the work of recalculating grade-point averages to be done by the district's secretaries over the summer. In that way, when students come back to school in the fall of 2003 the new system will be in place.

"I don't see any problems with this one," Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull said.

The board agreed and approved the change by unanimous vote.

Pass/fail proposal raises questions

The pass/fail issue arises from Marshall's practice of weighting some advanced courses. Because of this, students can actually have a GPA higher than the maximum of the scale. A number of honor students currently have grade-point averages over 11.

If these students were to take an unweighted course, even earning an A grade would lower their GPA. Because of this, many honor students have stayed away from enrichment classes such as driver's education and "zero hour" classes like jazz band.

While the change to the four-point scale is not expected to have any effect on class rankings, allowing students to take enrichment and "zero hour" classes on a pass/fail basis would.

"I think we all agree the idea is a good one, it's just a matter of timing," Aull said, adding that change will likely serve to encourage enrollment in summer school and enrichment classes.

The question facing the board is whether to figure the change retroactively for all high school students or to include only those grades unaffected so far.

"Either way it affects GPA and it affects rank," Adams said.

It was the consensus of the board to not make the change retroactive to courses already taken. The board chose to table action on this change and informed Adams to determine if any of this year's freshmen are affected by the current policy. If not, the change will include them next year and if so the change will take effect with next year's freshman class.

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