School board adopts weighted grade policy System rewards students in more difficult courses

May 14, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Board of Education adopted a new grading system last night that will reward high school students who take the most challenging courses.

Under the new system, effective in the fall, students may select "weighted or nonweighted calculation of grades in determining grade point averages."

The new system will, for example, award five points to a student who receives an A in a weighted, or more difficult, course; a student in a nonweighted class would receive four points for the same grade.

"I think it will be an encouragement for students to take more advanced courses," said board member Carolyn Scott. "It will give them some much-deserved recognition."

Students have complained that those who take the toughest courses -- designated level 4 in Carroll schools -- sometimes have lower grade-point averages and class rankings than students who take easier courses.

"Students felt like they were being penalized for taking more difficult courses," said board member Ann Ballard. "It's very important for students to feel that they're being appreciated."

Ballard said that, in some instances, students have stayed away from Advanced Placement classes because they worried that lower grades would put them at a disadvantage in applying to colleges and for scholarships.

Marie Legg, a senior at Francis Scott Key High School and the student representative on the county school board, was especially pleased with the board's adoption of the new system.

Last June, at the urging of student government leaders, Legg brought a resolution to the board that supported a weighted grade policy. A committee appointed by the school system to study the issue recommended last month that the board allow students to choose weighted or nonweighted grading.

"Students are always asking, 'What has the [school] board done for us? How do we have a voice?' " Legg said. "This has worked its way through the system, and we've had successful results."

The committee of students, teachers, counselors, parents and a principal that studied the issue recommended the weighted and nonweighted options to address the abilities of all students.

In its report to the school board, the committee stated, "Providing a dual option penalizes no one, benefits those students who have challenged themselves academically, and gives each student the opportunity to present him/herself to colleges and universities in the best light."

School board President Scott Stone said that he received a flurry of calls from students urging him to vote for the new system.

Also last night, the board named Lee Ann Ware Peck as Carroll County Teacher of the Year.

Peck, an English teacher at Westminster High School, joined the county school system in 1985, the year she graduated from Western Maryland College.

The board meeting began with a moment of silence for Raymond Mathias, the longtime principal of Winfield Elementary School who was killed Monday in a car accident near the school.

"His work and his spirit will live on at Winfield," said schools Superintendent Brian L. Lockard.

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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