Current freshmen will see changes in weighted and dual-credit courses go into effect for their sophomore year after the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education voted Monday night to accelerate the process lined out by district administrators.
The original plan, proposed by Smith-Cotton High School Principal Steve Triplett and Carla Wheeler, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, called for the changes to start with students who will become freshmen in the 2013-14 school year. The goal is to increase enrollment in advanced placement classes and dual-credit courses — those for which students can get both high school and college credit — to help meet new Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP5) standards that call for greater college and career readiness. Weighted classes are those with a higher degree of difficulty, and thus merit more points toward a student’s grade-point average; adding “weight” to a difficult course makes it more appealing to students looking to secure high GPAs or honors such as valedictorian.
Wheeler had said the reason she and Triplett proposed having the changes go into effect for next year’s incoming freshmen was “We can’t change the rules in the middle of the game” for current high school students. But board President Dr. Jeff Sharp led the charge to enact the changes more quickly.
“Now, the sooner we can get kids taking these dual-credit classes, the better it is for our MSIP?” he asked.
Wheeler said it would be beneficial, adding that Sedalia 200 needs 38 percent of students to take dual-credit or advanced placement courses for the district to get all 10 possible points and be considered “exceeding standards” on MSIP5 scales.
“Our goal is to have our students take dual-credit courses,” Wheeler said. “Not only does it help them ... with rigor, it helps them be more prepared when they go on to four-year (institutions), and it also helps us with our MSIP5s. So it’s a win-win.”
Wheeler said some students “track out their four years with a goal of being valedictorian or salutatorian,” but she was not certain whether the changes would have negative consequences for current freshmen. Wade Norton, principal of Smith-Cotton Junior High, where freshmen attend class, said all ninth graders primarily take the same courses without a lot of flexibility.
Board member Scott Gardner also spoke in favor of accelerating the changes.
“I don’t have any problem with it because ... there may be somebody who is going to try to run the numbers to try to become valedictorian or salutatorian,” he said. “There also are going to be a lot of parents who are going to be running the numbers saying, ‘You might want to try to do that, but more importantly, we’d like to get a lot of your college credits out of the way so we can afford college.’
‘I’d say the sooner we can get this done, the better.”
After a motion to move the changes up to take effect for 2013-14 incoming sophomores was approved, the new slate of weighted, AP and dual-credit courses was approved unanimously.
Under the new guidelines, weighted status was removed from Honors English II, College Preparatory English II, Debate, Honors American History, Honors American Government and Computer Programming.
Those retaining weighted status are Biology II, Chemistry II, Physic II Human Physiology I and II, Zoology, Honors Algebra II, Math Analysis/Trigonometry, Advanced Accounting, all Level III and IV foreign language classes, College Preparatory English IV and Engineering Design and Development.
Advanced placement courses that retain weighted status are AP Biology, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Calculus and AP U.S. History.
To offer dual-credit courses, the district needs at least one student paying the college tuition fee if the instructor is a district employee, or 10 to 12 paying students if the instructor is provided by State Fair Community College or the University of Central Missouri. Dual-credit, weighted courses that may be offered, depending on enrollments, are Public Speaking, National Government, World Civilization Before 1500, U.S. History to 1877, Calculus, College Algebra, College Trigonometry, Statistics, Contemporary Math, English Composition I and II, English Literature and Composition, Introduction to Literature, Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Music Theory, Studio Arts, Personal Health and Fitness, Art Appreciation, Industrial Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics and Drafting and Design.