Class rank policy gets OK, then a do-over

On Monday, the Warren County School District board of directors passed a class rank/GPA policy, the point of contentious debate for several years, in a split 5-4 vote.

Later in the meeting, they kicked it back to committee.

The key point of division was the tiered weight scale established for honors and AP/Dual enrollment courses.

In the policy draft, a grade between 93 and 00 received a five-point additive in an honors course and a 10-point bump in AP or dual enrollment offerings. A grade of 84 to 92 was allocated a three-point bump in honors and six in AP/Dual enrollment while a 70 to 83 grade receives a one-point bump in honors and a two-point additive in AP/Dual enrollment.

Board Vice President Donna Zariczny said that she “prepared to come and fight against (the) grade added point system. If all you’re going to offer a student is one (point additive) to take a course they wouldn’t have normally taken (it) won’t be enough.”

“If a student pre-supposed they are only going to do enough work to get one, I would agree with you,” board member John Grant said. “I don’t think that’s how people decide how to make a choice.”

“If they receive a passing score,” Zariczny argued, “I don’t think they should be penalized” when it comes to weight.

“I think the person who achieves ‘A’ should receive more than (one) who receives ‘C,'” Grant responded.

“Why do we think that kids do this (take more challenging classes) to bump GPA?” board member Tom Knapp asked, arguing that students more often take challenging courses for “their college benefit.”

“Then why do we give points at all?” Zariczny asked.

“I don’t know,” Knapp said. “I would vote to give no points for any higher course. One hundred years ago when I went to school, before they had books, I took the courses I needed to get ahead.”

Board member Dr. Paul Yourchisin noted that “some are and some aren’t” using weighted course primarily to boost GPA and subsequent class honors. “We have both kinds of kids in our district.”

“I have long pondered student rationale in selecting their courses and questioned whether they were all for a truly academic purpose,” board member Jack Werner said. “I think I’m not in favor of this scale for the sake of encouraging as many kids to stretch their horizons as possible.”

Zariczny then offered an amendment to the motion that would change the 5-3-1 and 10-6-2 scales to 5-4-3 and 10-8-6, respectively. The amendment was defeated by a 5-4 vote.

The vote on the original motion, upholding the policy as presented, passed 5-4. Yourchisin, Mike Zamborik, Grant, Knapp and Mary Anne Paris voted in the affirmative while Werner, Zariczny, Marcy Morgan and Arthur Stewart voted in opposition.

At the end of the meeting, when asked if there were any other issues to come before the board, Grant said that since he has been in the district, this policy has been the “most contentious policy of anything we’ve had” and that this was the “first thing in the last three years to split the board 5-4.”

With the split vote, “which means it’s probably wrong,” according to Grant, he suggested that the administration take the policy back and ask students to be involved in the discussion.

“They’re going to be involved sooner or later as they always are in (Policy) 9744,” said Grant.

“We’ve been very strong as a team on almost all of our decisions,” he added, claiming that the split shows that the policy can be improved.

“It boiled down to two scoring systems,” he said. “They’re (students) the ones that are going to be affected. I’m hoping we can do better, that’s all.”

The issue will likely be brought back before the Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee in November.