Lewisville ISD is considering changes to various policies regarding class rank and grade point average.
The district examined its policies, which were last updated for the 2011-12 school year, because of the implementation of House Bill 5 and because LISD has increased the number of middle school courses available for high school credit.
A committee composed of principals, counselors, teachers and parents looked at several topics based on discussions with a college panel, as well as examining 38 other districts. The committee presented its recommendations to the school board earlier this month, and the board is expected to take action in June.
LISD's current policy is to include English, math, science, social studies, languages other than English, AP and academic decathlon on the GPA if they are all taken at high school.
That's not the case for all of the high school courses taken at middle school.
While LISD is not planning to add more courses at middle school for high school credit, the committee recommended counting those middle school classes on students' GPA for more consistency.
“They're all taught by the same qualified teachers who have the credentials to teach these classes,” said Chris Broyles, Hedrick Middle School counselor. “Plus, the rigor is the same.”
Tiffany Wilhoit, DeLay Middle School math teacher, said having the high school courses taken in middle school count in the GPA could help students take the work more seriously.
“Right now, you might have an eighth-grader who says, 'I just need to get that (grade of) 70,'” Wilhoit said. “If they know it's going to affect their GPA, they might try harder and not just try for the 70 but try for an 'A' or 'B' that they're capable of getting.”
Wilhoit said it could also cause parents to reconsider putting their middle school child in a high school course if they're not truly ready.
Part of the ongoing discussion will be how to make the Spanish courses offered in middle school more consistent. Some are offered for a semester while others are offered for a year.
In discussing what should be included in the GPA, board president Trisha Sheffield said she would like courses within the Career and Technology Education (CTE) to count.
“I see some of these CTE classes as being on par with some of our AP course work and certainly Academic Decathlon,” Sheffield said. “It's almost a disservice to those kids taking CTE courses to not give them credit.”
At the June meeting, the board will be presented a list of CTE courses that could be considered “advanced” and get weighted credit in the GPA.
Committee members also recommended removing the 1.3 multiplier when it comes to determining GPA. Instead, Pre-AP, AP and dual credit courses would all use the 1.2 multiplier.
Members said students often focus too much on how the course will affect their GPA.
“A lot of times students only take courses that are 1.3 multipliers,” said Hebron High School counselor Tracey Shinkle. “Maybe a student wants to take a career center class because they're interested in taking health sciences but would only get a 1.1 multiplier. But if they stay at their campus and take AP psychology, they would get a 1.3. We have hurt some of the elective classes because kids are playing the GPA game.”
Connie Maloney, a counselor at Marcus High School, said this move would also help increase the participation of dual credit courses.
“A lot of students choose not to do dual credit because it's a 1.2 and not a 1.3,” Maloney said. “If we eliminated the Level 3, dual credit and Pre-AP would be on a level playing field. The goal is for the students to make more conscientious decisions on the core selections.”
While the committee isn't suggesting a change in LISD's policy of class rank, there was discussion from the board on whether that should change anyway.
The current system is for all students to be ranked.
Trustee Angie Cox said she doesn't like the ranking system because it can cause colleges to overlook students who don't reach certain thresholds, such as top-10 percent.
“It makes it easy for colleges to say, 'We'll take you, you and you' because of rankings,” Cox said. “But colleges need to vet our kids because we have smart kids who deserve to go to UT and other colleges no matter what their GPA is.”
Gale Ladehoff, director of guidance and counseling services, said ranking the students is beneficial for those who barely miss a percentage cutoff.
“If I'm in the 11 percent, but I'm going to be blocked in with everybody in the top 10 percent and everybody down, colleges aren't going to know what my rank is,” Ladehoff said. “So is it doing a disservice to those kids who barely did not make the top 10 percent to not say they were in the top quarter? If we don't rank, we can't let the colleges know they were very close to being in the top 10 percent.”