Two years ago, our School Board adopted an updated view of our high school curricula, expanding beyond our traditional focus on developing content knowledge to include greater emphasis on the acquisition of workplace skills. The latter included such related student interests as career exploration, community engagement, and civic responsibility. The Board’s intent was to better position us to meet our one strategic goal for students—that they graduate with the skills and competencies needed for college and career success.
High School 2022, the first iteration of this contemporary high school vision, emphasized four operating principles: ensuring equitable access and opportunity for all students; implementing flexible scheduling to support student-centered learning; encouraging students to explore their interests and passions in their course selections; and using fair, consistent and meaningful grading practices.
As we decide how best to implement these principles, one of the most impactful decisions will be how to address the influence of our practice of weighting grades. Grades in Honors, Dual Enrollment, and Advanced Placement (AP) classes receive greater numerical value when calculating student GPA, and we do not limit the number of these classes a student can take.
We know from our research that enrollment in weighted classes can increase student workload and stress, as well as discourage students from taking unweighted classes that may be of greater personal interest.
This brings us to an important decision point. The superintendent is seeking your input on whether our current practices, as they relate to weighted grades and our AP program, encourage students in exploring their interests and passions; whether they provide for equitable access and opportunity; and whether they promote positive student mental health. We would like to hear your recommendations about any future changes to these practices.
We are offering three opportunities to talk in more depth about these questions and to gain your points of view. I hope you can arrange your calendar to join us from 4 to 5 p.m. on either Wednesday, January 9, in the WAHS Media Center; Thursday, January 10, in the MoHS Forum; or Tuesday, January 15, in the AHS Media Center.
Patrick J. McLaughlin, Ed.D.
Chief of Strategic Planning
Director of Secondary Education