Chesterton Tribune

CHS to return to weighted grades for advanced classes

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Chesterton High School is returning to the practice of awarding weighted grades in the advanced courses.

The Duneland School Board on Monday accepted a recommendation from CHS Principal James Goetz to implement a duel transcript system with the upcoming school year, granting weighted grades retroactively for current high school students who have taken the select courses. The incoming freshmen will then be the first class to have the weighted grades in full effect.

With weighted grades, students get additional credit for taking the advanced courses. Currently, an “A” grade is a 4.0, but with a weighted grade system, an “A” would be a 5.0. The highest grade point average a student can achieve now is 4.33 for getting an A-plus in every course; with weighted grades, the highest would be a 5.33 on the 4.0 scale.

Goetz said the move to weighted grades was prompted by an email he received from parent Candace Frederick, who raised a concern that CHS students are getting short-changed when it comes to college scholarships and other awards, due to the lack of a weighted grade system.

Frederick, who was at Monday’s Duneland School Board meeting, said all other Porter County schools use weighted grades, and that the higher GPA could make a real difference in the opportunity for advanced students to win college scholarships.

“Duneland kids have been at a disadvantage,” she said, adding that she is thrilled that the program will be implemented retroactively.

Goetz said that after receiving Frederick’s email, he formed a committee to explore the concept. He said all the teachers on committee worked not in the best interests of their individual departments, but for the good of the overall school in developing the parameters.

The committee decided that all courses in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Gifted and Talented and Honors will have weighted grades. Other courses and positions will also have weighted grades, such as advanced two-dimensional art, editor-in-chief of the yearbook or newspaper, and physiology and anatomy.

Goetz said that the program to implement the weighted grades for the current students isn’t perfect, but is the fairest that could be designed. Current CHS students will be allowed the weighted grades retroactively, which in turn could make them eligible for in-house honors programs, such as the CHS Wall of Fame. Incoming freshmen will be eligible for weighted grades as part of their official transcripts.

He also said that the list of eligible courses that will receive weighted grades is not etched in stone but subject to change, with other courses added as needed. He said he would prefer to start with a smaller list of courses and add onto it later, rather than remove courses.

Students will receive the weighted grade if they maintain at least a C-minus in the class.

Goetz noted that CHS used to have weighted grades a number of years ago when current Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer was CHS principal. But even after CHS dropped weighted grades, the number of kids taking the advanced classes didn’t change significantly. On the flip side, Goetz said he can see some students deciding to take the more advanced courses because of the additional credits.

The school board was given a round of applause from the audience after unanimously approving the weighted grades proposal.


Posted 4/13/2010