Aledo ISD’s Director of Student Services and Safety Scott Kessel addressed the board of trustees Monday night about proposed changes to the grade point average and class ranking calculation system the district currently uses.
Kessel said a committee was formed at the beginning of the school year, which consisted of 17 district employees — three district administrators, two campus administrators and teachers.
“I think there was consensus early on that what we wanted to do was to develop a GPA, class ranking calculation system that was really going to be designed to meet the needs of our students,” Kessel said.
The committee reviewed the policy and its limitations as well as looked at 29 area school districts that have made changes to their policy.
“The proposed changes that the committee has come up with are notable. We’re not just tweaking a couple of little things here and there. There really is a pretty substantial overhaul of the way that we calculate class rank and the way we report grade point average based on the proposed changes of the committee,” Kessel said. “The committee believes the changes are very fair to students and really keep in line with the mission in creating a system that’s going to beset fit their needs.”
The first proposed change is the GPA scale and the way the district releases ranking information.
“We currently report on a 100-point scale. The proposed changes would be to report GPA on a traditional 4-point scale,” Kessel said. “Current policy says that we calculate GPA and rank students at the end of every semester and that timeframe will not change and we will calculate GPA at the end of every semester, but we will not calculate rank. That is a pretty substantial change that other districts are doing as well. Part of the reasoning behind that is the stress. This unhealthy competition that it seems to promote.”
Kessel said the district will still communicate to students who are in the top 10 percent, but will not tell them where in the top 10 percent.
“Students will know their GPA, but as far as specifically reporting the rank of every student, we will no longer do that,” Kessel said.
AISD Superintendent Dr. Susan K. Bohn said the ranking information can put students at a disadvantage.
“One of the things that we suspect is that some of our graduates are disadvantaged in the college admission process because they are further down in the ranking, but they still have a very high GPA,” Bohn said. “So we think that it will no longer disadvantage them to that extent.”
Kessel added that if a student had a high GPA, but was still ranked in the third quartile of the class, it can affect them in the college admission process.
“[The student] could really be a strong candidate for admission, but really your chances are diminished from the get go because you’re in the third quartile,” Kessel said. “So we say we won’t report to students, but we also won’t report that when we send transcripts to colleges for applications.”
Another proposed change is course exclusions.
“Dual credit is listed in the [local policy] as an excluded class, so if students take dual credit now there is no baring one way or another on GPA because it is not factored into the calculation. With the proposed changes, dual credit will no longer be excluded,” Kessel said. “Dual credit will be an included class in the calculation of GPA and it will be weighted as well.”
With that, Kessel said high school courses taken before ninth grade will be excluded from GPA calculation.
“The feeling behind that is that these kids are 13 and 14 years old and sometimes they really dig a hole for themselves,” Kessel said. “The calculation of GPA will [also] only include courses in English, math, science and social studies.”
Kessel said there are also some proposed changes to the weight categories, but that they aren’t big changes.
“When we calculate GPA, certain classes are assigned a weight in that calculation based on the expected rigor of those classes,” Kessel said. “I wouldn’t say there are huge proposed changes with the weigh category, but there are some changes with the weight that we’ve come up with.”
AISD will hold an information meeting on the proposed changes at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Distance Learning Center at Aledo High School.
The current policy will be reviewed and the proposed changes will be shared in more detail, and questions will be answered.
Following the information meeting, the district will share a survey on the AISD website to allow for feedback on the proposed changes. The survey will be available from March 25 to April 12.
“The idea is to really target the parents of current sixth grade students, the class of 2025, and younger,” Kessel said. “The reason for that is that the proposed phase-in for these changes is with that class. When they come into high school they will be the first class that will experience the changes if we move forward and get approval.”
For more information visit www.aledoisd.org.