At Thursday evening’s (March 26) Board of Education meeting, the board discussed the possibility of revising the school district’s policy regarding weighted grades at the high school.
According to board member Chris Finkelstein who serves on the BoE’s Policy & Communications subcommittee, the subject has been studied extensively by administrators and board members, and it will be discussed fully at the next regularly scheduled BoE meeting on April 23. The meeting location is being moved to the high school’s Little Theater to accommodate the expected strong turnout by parents and members of the public, following heightened public interest in the subject.
“We’re putting together a panel of experts on the topic of the college admission process, whether or not our current policy of not weighting grades is suitable for our kids. Whether our students are put at a disadvantage for not weighting grades? Whether it does not matter? Our subcommittee has been hearing a lot of information from different experts and we would love to share it with the board and with the community,” Finkelstein explained.
She added that parents and board members will be asked to submit questions in advance, in order to “control the time factor.”
Weighted grades are number or letter grades that are assigned a higher value in calculating a student’s grade point average, or GPA. In some high schools, a grade weighting system awards students higher grade values for more challenging classes and higher-level courses, including honors classes and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
Wilton High School currently does not weight grades.
BoE chair Bruce Likly added that the board has received many emails from members of the community with input and opinions on the matter. Saying that some of those emails have directed the board to research on the topic, he encouraged anyone with information or perspective on the topic to share it.
One issue the board is trying to understand is how long it will take to implement any changes should they move the district high school to a weighted grade model. In addition, Finkelstein said that there is not really one standard way of weighting grades.
“One thing that we’ve learned is that there’s no such thing as a ‘weighted grade formula.’ The top-line research we’ve done with our surrounding schools, I don’t think we’ve seen seen two schools that do exactly the same thing. What we’d have to do is take a long, hard look at our curriculum courses, and if we decide to go ahead with this, decide which ones merit additional credit,” she said.
One example she cited was New Canaan High School, which gives additional credit for AP classes but only if a student takes a test. Other districts only give credit if the student achieves a certain grade.
“We have to see what we’re up against. People say it’s going to take us at least a year to figure out what we’re going to do. We’ll need to give it thoughtful consideration,” Finkelstein told the board.
Likly said that the surrounding districts “all appear to do something slighty different.”
He added that at least one of the probably presenters will be a town resident who owns a business that does college placement consulting. “We spoke about having his professional perspective on what various schools do and what various colleges do. We have heard that some colleges try to strip out the weightings and do their own weighting system, and some don’t. There’s no consistency that we can see.”