Students On Rank

The rankle over rank continues.

Class rank that is.

Policy 9744, which deals with class rank and honors credits beginning with the class of 2017, was before the Warren County School District Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee again on Monday night.

WCSD Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gary Weber said that he had the opportunity to meet with students to solicit their views and feelings on this issue. “I think I captured what it is they were trying to tell you,” he said of the letter he submitted to the board.

Noting that the students he spoke with did not see any reason to make changes to the policy at this time as they were unaware of any problems, Weber’s letter said that “the message that was most conveyed focused on reward and incentive for enrolling and completing AP (Advanced Placement) courses.”

The key issue at the heart of the debate is whether or not to implement a graduated weighting system. Under current policy, students who take AP and dual enrollment offerings receive a 10 percent bump in their final grade. Students in honors classes receive a five point bump.

The board has been split on whether to maintain the policy as it exists, or apportion weight based on the final grade a student receives in a course.

Weber, summarizing the students, wrote that “the weight is simply the reward for putting forth this time and effort and the incentive for students to attempt to take a difficult course. Without this weight, the students believe that a decline in enrollment will take place.”

The students he met with also highlighted the concern that any further drop in AP enrollment could result in the loss of AP course offerings, particularly in the outlying areas. “Students already have seen a decline in the course offerings and do not feel they can afford to lose any more offerings in their buildings,” he wrote.

Some students did not even realize they were receiving weight.

“In most cases, students at the lower grade levels in all the high schools didn’t know they were receiving weight,” he wrote. “Only those at the very top of the class acknowledge that the weight would have an impact on weight.”

Weber also said that he asked students if they would be willing to take the AP exam if the district paid for it. “Almost every student” indicated that they would. Total cost to provide the exams would be approximately $16,000.

Weber presented two versions of the policy for committee review on Monday: One with graduated weight and another without.

“I am not opposed to weighting those courses,” Board member John Grant said. He explained that, though, for students to receive AP credit they should have to take the AP exam. “I think that, if you have another name for it, call it whatever you wan,t when kids are not graded by the AP program.”

Superintendent Dr. William Clark said that in previous districts where he has worked the district did pay for the AP exams but was eventually cut after 15 years due to budget constraints.

“I don’t think the kids should be penalized for taking an advanced course,” Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny said of the graduated weighting scale.

Board member Jack Werner said that if a weighted scale would jeopardize class offerings in smaller schools it should be considered.

A straw poll was taken on the two policy proposals that were presented. Without a consensus, both versions will go to the full board for action at the December meeting.