In just about two weeks, school doors will open back up in Wichita Falls. However, the new school year could also mean changes in how students are graded.
A new proposal would change the way a student’s grade point average is calculated. Curriculum Director Ward Roberts introduced the proposal to the Wichita Falls Independent School District board July 21.
The current system allows students to take as many advanced courses as they can fit in their schedule. It’s something that can cause students to stress while preparing for graduation, according to Roberts.
“Really the main goals of re-thinking the GPA policy would be to encourage kids to take more dual credit classes,” said Roberts.
One change would enhance the attractiveness of taking dual credit courses by giving those classes a weight closer to that of advanced placement classes. Instead of being based on a 4.0 grade scale, dual credit course would fall on a 4.5 grade scale. That falls just below the 5.0 scale used for advanced placement.
The second change would allow the district to move away from giving alphabet grades and instead use a more numerical system. It means students would be rewarded for earning an “A+” (95-100) and a student would receive a slightly lower grade for an “A-“(90-95).
“A third option was to try and close some of the loopholes in what courses count and what courses don’t count into GPA,” said Roberts.
A fourth change under the new calculations would only allow core classes that are required by the state to earn a diploma, count towards a GPA. Students would still be able to take as many advanced placement course has they could handle, however, only a set number would be counted.
By limiting courses that go toward a GPA it allows students to take more elective and alternative courses without hurting their GPA’s, according to Roberts.
By standardizing the list of classes that count toward a GPA both students and parents will have a better understanding of the formula.
“My hope is that kids are better prepared for college and that they do the things in high school that are aligned with their interest in career pathways,” said Roberts.
However some board members hesitated with the limitation of AP courses counting toward a GPA. And other students worry those limitations could end up hurting them when competing for spots at state universities.
“The downfalls are really the unknown,” said Roberts. “It’s hard to consider every possible situation and every ramification ahead of time.”
If those proposals are approved by the school board, this year's juniors and seniors would be grandfathered in to the current GPA system. School board members would then choose whether the new proposal would impact only incoming freshmen or both incoming freshmen and sophomores.
The formal proposal for these changes will be presented August 11. That's when the school board will vote on whether or not these changes will impact students this school year.