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Speech class classification removed


CHESAPEAKE — In a 2-1 vote the Chesapeake Board of Education has removed the weighted grade from an elective speech class despite a plea from the teacher of the class not to do so.

“I implore you do not take away from the students who have earned this, but accept the compromise,” said Colleen Sexton, the Chesapeake faculty member who co-teaches the class with Ohio University Southern professor, Dr. Dave Lucas. “They have earned every single point for hard work and excellence. Why would there be a moment’s consideration to take that away (the weighted grade).”

Sexton spoke directly to the board at a special meeting Monday following an hour’s discussion from parents and students, the majority of which was in support of keeping the class weighted.

At issue is the class ranking for the juniors. Right now there are nine juniors tied for first place. However only three took the speech class. Since the class is taught by both a high school teacher and college professor, it becomes a dual-credit course.

Since it is a dual-credit class, it should be a weighted class, according to the school’s handbook. The six who did not take it said they were unaware it was a weighted class until about a month ago.

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.

Weighted grade point averages are used to determine class ranking and who will be that class’s valedictorian. However, transcripts with grade point averages that are not weighted are sent to colleges for consideration for admission and scholarships.

Most of the discussion focused on the difficulty of the course, including the number of speeches, papers and extracurricular charitable projects the speech students were required to do.

“I’m frustrated,” Maggie Smith, a member of the speech class, told the board. “I took the hand book and it clearly states a dual-credit class is weighted. It is frustrating that the weighted class could be taken away.”

Chris Dehner, whose son, Chris, is one of the six juniors not in the class, said all students had been told no junior class would be weighted.

“The students made an informed choice,” Dehner said. “The administration has said it made a mistake. We are taking a step back.”

The three students in the class had offered what they called a compromise giving up one-half of the weighted grade credit and offering that to the other students if they take the class in the fall.

However some of the six questioned that they could not schedule the speech class without giving up other courses that were relevant to their majors or future career plans.

“I think Mrs. (Kim) Day, (guidance counselor) would be able to figure out a schedule for all students to take the class,” Seth Waggoner, a speech students, said.

Dr. Kim Oxley was the sole board member to vote against taking off the weighted classification because she felt it was penalizing the students in the class. In a past meeting Oxley said she supported the compromise, as did Superintendent Dr. Scott Howard.

“I feel for both sides,” Oxley said. “(but) … to take away from students who didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.”

Voting for taking the weighted grade off the class were Jeanne Harmon and David Bennett, who did not state their reasons publicly. Fourth board member Jerry Frye was out of town. Last week BOE president Jerry Osborne resigned, leaving the board with only four until his replacement is named.

“I feel we did make a solution to help both sides,” Anna Mayo, a junior in the class, said after the meeting. “But I guess it wasn’t enough.”

After the meeting one parent said legal action against the board was possible.