Board drops grade changes

First Posted: 3/28/2012

CLARKS SUMMIT- The Abington Heights School Board voted 5-4 to have students enrolled in honors and advanced placement (AP) courses continue to have their final grade increased 5 percent each quarter, and on the midterm and final exam.

The board previously decided at their last work session to implement a change in the way grading would be calculated starting next year. Under that system, students taking an honors course would have had their grade increased 3 percent, AP courses 5 percent and it would only be done once at the end of the year on the student’s transcript.

According to School Board President Cathy Hardaway, the board did not vote on the issue at the last work session, but there was no strong reason given by any board member why the administration shouldn’t move forward with the new weighting system.

Dr. Thomas Quinn, assistant superintendent of schools, gave some rationale for the reason for the proposed change.

“It occurred to us that six times a year we distort the feedback that we give to our students who are challenging themselves the most,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Mahon also stressed that the change would have been done with the students best interests in mind.

“The intent was to advantage the students,” Mahon said. “We though it was dangerous in years past to equate what was happening in honors to what was happening in AP because we thought that was a false equivalence.”

After several parents voiced their concerns about how the proposed changes might affect students’ chances of qualifying for the honor roll and National Honor Society, the board voted against adopting any grading changes .

“I don’t think the students misunderstand what grade they are actually getting,” parent Pamela McNichols said. “I think the grades reflect that they’ve had a harder course and I think it would be a punishment not to give them the 5 percent every quarter so they can make the honor roll.”

According to Principal Pamela Murray, an extremely large number of students have overridden their teachers’ recommendation from a level 2 class to an honors course, but it’s unclear at this time if the decisions were influenced by the proposed grading changes.

Students have until March 31 to register for courses for the next school year.

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