Under the system now in effect, an A is given 4 grade points, regardless of what level course a student takes. The proposed system gives 4.5 points for an A in an honors course and 5.0 points in an advanced-placement course. An A-plus for an advanced-placement course would be awarded 5.33 grade points, the highest grade point possible.
If the policy wins approval, the changes would take effect this fall, with a few exceptions. They would not be retroactive. College transcripts and report cards would show both weighted and unweighted grade-point averages and class rank.
The district would no longer identify a valedictorian; the committee felt that scheduling conflicts might give some students an advantage over others, resulting in unwanted controversy.
"And we want students to feel comfortable taking band, physical education and other unweighted courses," said Kennett High School principal Wesley McDowell.
The committee recommended using unweighted grades for school honor rolls.
"We're trying to challenge all our kids, to come up with a system that's fair to all," said McDowell. "I hope . . . we've achieved that."
New Garden Township resident Robin McClane, the mother of a 10th grader and a seventh grader, said she got involved in the committee after her 10th-grade son told her that many students in honors and advanced-placement courses were talking about how "students taking academic-level courses were getting A's and A-pluses and students taking more difficult courses were getting lower grade point averages; it was unacceptable. . . . Some were leaving the honors courses because they were getting below a B and felt it would hurt their class rank and grade point average because there was no weighting."
Competition for admissions to selective colleges, McClane said, "has become so great, it's ridiculous - some of the brightest kids you know can't get into the college of their choice. Anything that gives them the best showing academically on a transcript, it's to their benefit."
Most board members at last month's meeting seemed to agree that change was needed. "Our goal is to encourage more students to take honors and AP courses and this is one of the few levers we have, " said Maureen Harrigan.
Board president Douglas Doren was less certain. "It will give higher class-ranks to students who take more difficult courses; to that extent, it would do some good," he said yesterday. "But I'm not sure it would have any other effect" in helping students get into colleges, which are mostly "interested in the rigor of the courses you take and how well you did, not in grade point average."
"The down side is that this creates new pressure and new competition that is unrelated to the rewards of intellectual achievement that I hope would motivate students."
Contact staff writer Dan Hardy at 610-701-7638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.