Method of grading elective divides Chesapeake board

Published 12:27 pm Friday, May 4, 2012



CHESAPEAKE — Is it leveling the playing field or penalizing a minority for their accomplishments?

Email newsletter signup

That was the question facing the Chesapeake Board of Education as it considered Thursday evening in a special session whether an elective class should be graded by the weighted method or not.

“You have three kids who have completed the course,” Dr. Kim Oxley, board member, said. “(Not to grade it weighted) you have taken away something they have achieved.”

However, Oxley was the lone voice for that position on the board.

“Taking the weight away is not as egregious as leaving it on,” board member Jerry Frye countered. “An elective is just that. We should not be in the business of dictating what electives to take. I don’t think any of them knew it would be weighted. If they had known it, they would have taken it.”

Typically the top grade in a class is listed as a 4.0. However in a class with a weighted method of grading the top grade becomes higher than a 4.0. Weighted grades are traditionally given to academically challenging courses such as calculus, physics or advanced literature classes.

Right now there are nine juniors tied for first place in their class. During the current school year juniors were offered the option of taking a speech class, an elective subject typically offered during the senior year only.

This time the class was being taught by a Chesapeake staff member and a professor from Ohio University Southern allowing all students to earn both high school and college credit. That made it a dual-credit class.

Thus it also became a weighted class because the school handbook states that dual-credit classes automatically earn weighted grades. Three of those nine juniors took the class. None of them knew it was a weighted class until this month.

“We all would have taken the speech class if we had known it was weighted,” Eric Sias, one of the juniors, said before the meeting. “Finding out a day before spring break is too late.”

Since OUS will offer the class again as a dual credit in the fall of 2012, the three juniors currently in the class offered what they considered a compromise by giving up 1/2 of their weighted grade. The other students could then take the same class for the same weighted credit in the fall.

“I feel this is the fairest option,” Nick Duffield, one of the three juniors, said after the meeting. “Taking off half the weight so they could have the option to take it.”

However, some of those on the other side said that option would create scheduling conflicts.

One parent at the meeting put the blame for the situation on the administration for not informing the students that the speech class would be weighted at the time they signed up for classes.

“Dr. Howard did not implement the policy correctly,” he said. “If you make an elective as weighted, that class is not an elective to them.”

Chesapeake Superintendent Scott Howard was not at the meeting because he was teaching a class elsewhere.

In a three to one vote the board voted for its intention to remove the weight from this year’s speech class and next year’s. Oxley voted against that motion. The board must vote again before the change becomes official.

Howard had sent his recommendations via email wanting the board to remove one-half of the weight from this year’s class and putting one-half on the class in the fall. Oxley made the motion to accept that recommendation, but it died for lack of a second.

Currently there is a vacancy on the board following the resignation of Jerry Osborne. The board agreed to advertise for candidates to replace Osborne. It has until June 2 to find a new member. If it is unable to, the decision for a replacement goes to the Probate/Juvenile judge.

The board will meet in a special session on Monday to vote on whether it will make its intention permanent.