Sunday, May 13, 2001

School plans new rankings

Honor classes gain status

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Talawanda High School juniors John Saas and Sylvia Bartow say they can now compete equally with classmates for valedictorian status next year.

        That's because the Talawanda Board of Education recently modified a plan that gives extra weight to the high school's toughest classes beginning with the 2001-02 school year. The proposal increases by one point the value of letter grades for advanced placement or post secondary classes. Grades received in honors classes would increase in value by one-half point.

        When the plan was adopted last month, extra points would have been used to compute grade point aver ages (GPA) for all students, presenting the opportunity for students to earn a GPA higher than 4.0 on the 4.0 scale.

        The new change exempts the use of the extra points in computing the GPA — used in determining class rank — for juniors and seniors but leaves it in place for freshmen, sophomores and all classes that follow.

        “It would have made this one year (senior) more important than all the other years of high school,” said Sylvia, 16, who is one of 13 juniors with perfect 4.0 GPAs competing for valedictorian. “It would have a huge impact on juniors and seniors.”

        The impact, Sylvia says, would have come because those students who had already taken higher level courses wouldn't get the ex tra credit but those who took them next year would have.

        “Because the extra points would not have gone back to freshman year it would have given someone more credit for the same class if it's taken next year,” John said. “If I would have known that I would have arranged my schedule differently. You can't change the rules mid-stream.”

        John wrote a petition asking the board to reconsider its position. He, Sylvia, Anne Arlinghaus and Martha Allee circulated it among students now taking the classes that would be weighted if taken next fall. Over a two-day period they collected 84 signatures which were presented to the board members last week.

        “I think the board was very responsive to the voice of the students and the community,” said John, 17.

        Board president William Vollmer said he was impressed with the way the students presented their case and the outcome.

        “I saw it as a good compromise,” Mr. Vollmer said.


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