Mehlville school board to consider system of weighted grades

As proposed, weighted grades would be reviewed biennially

By MIKE ANTHONY

A recommendation to establish a system of weighted grades next fall for incoming freshmen is scheduled to be considered tonight — Dec. 13 — by the Mehlville Board of Education.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Mehlville Senior High School Library, 3200 Lemay Ferry Road.

A committee comprised of district administrators, counselors, teachers, parents, students and school-board members has been studying the issue of weighted grades since August, according to Superintendent Terry Noble.

“It was a well-rounded committee,” Noble told the Call Friday.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Connie Hurst-Bayless, Mehlville Senior High School Principal Vince Viviano and Oakville Senior High School Principal Bill Scheffler were asked to form the committee, which was charged with “the responsibility to review the topic of weighted grades and make a recommendation to the superintendent regarding the use of weighted grades for students in Mehlville School District.”

After studying the issue, the committee reached “a consensus that students could benefit from having a weighted-grade system in Mehlville School District,” according to information provided to the Board of Education by Hurst-Bayless, Viviano and Scheffler.

“Student benefits come in the form of in-creasing opportunities to learn more by taking higher level courses, recognition of taking higher level courses and potential scholarships toward post-high school educational opportunities,” according to the information provided to the board.

Specifically, the Weighted-Grade Committee’s findings include:

• It is recommended that weighted grades be given for Advanced Placement , or AP, and Dual Credit courses.

• It is recommended that AP courses receive a 1.0 per year — 0.5 per semester — bump if the student earns a C or above.

• It is recommended that Dual Credit courses receive a 0.75 bump — 0.375 per semester — if the student earns a C or above.

• It is recommended to institute the following recognition of academic excellence — students earning a grade-point average of 4.1 and above will be recognized as summa cum laude; students earning 3.8 to 4.09 will be recognized as magna cum laude; and students earning 3.5 to 3.79 will be recognized as cum laude.

The student with the highest GPA will be named valedictorian. The student with the second highest GPA will be named salutatorian. This will be instituted with the graduating class of 2012.

• It is recommended that weighted grades begin with incoming freshmen, fall of 2008, class of 2012.

• For transfer students, based on the student’s transcript from another school district(s), any AP or Dual Credit courses offered by the Mehlville School District will be given weighted grades.

• It is recommended that a Weighted-Grade Committee reconvene biennially.

Noble said he believes weighted grades would provide students an incentive to challenge themselves to work harder and also reward those students who take the district’s toughest courses.

“… In the perfect world, you probably would say you don’t need these because everybody is going to aspire to be their very best and they’re all just going to challenge themselves, but that’s not the way it really is,” he said.

“And while all have good intentions, we usually need some type of incentive to help us to really stretch ourselves and I think weighted grades can provide one of the incentives because … there’s a fairness issue there.

“People who take the most challenging coursework should be rewarded for that in class ranking. It’s about class ranking in my mind. If an A in one class is the same as an A in another class that has much more rigor to it — I mean it’s not the same.

“But if we treat it as the same, what’s to really inspire somebody to challenge themselves to take the tougher schedule?” Noble continued. “Again, if everybody’s got their goals in perfect order and they know where they’re headed with their lives and they can see into the future and recognize they really need to take the very toughest, most rigorous coursework they can, then we don’t need them, but that’s not really what happens. So I don’t know why people thought it wasn’t needed.”