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Board Members Standardize College-Level Classes to 5.0 Credits

Board Members Standardize College-Level Classes to 5.0 Credits

Dual credit classes now earn students the same 5.0 GPA credits as Advanced Placement, IB classes

 

In a move to level the playing field for all students, board members voted 6-1 in the December board meeting Monday to standardize all college-credit courses so that each one will earn a student a full 5 points on the 5-point GPA scale.

Up until now, regular classes earn a student 4.0 credits toward their GPA (grade point average), dual credit courses earn a student 4.5 credits, and honors and Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses earn a student 5.0 credits.

The higher credit-bearing classes will earn a student a higher GPA and make it easier to place in the top 10 percent of the class, which earns a student automatic admission to state universities in Texas and can lead to more lucrative scholarships.

The recommendation to upgrade dual credit courses to 5.0 status came from the District Advisory Council, a subcommittee that met throughout the fall to discuss advanced academics. The subcommittee included teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and other community members.  

Because fewer minorities take Advanced Placement classes and because they often decide dual credit courses are better suited to their futures, the Council – and ultimately the majority of board members -- decided it was most fair to students to upgrade dual credit courses to the same credit weight of all other college-credit courses.

Raising dual credit courses to a value of 5 points on the GPA scale “opens up a lot of opportunities and doesn’t hurt AP,” said Dale Harvey, board vice president. Officially, the move is a revision to Policy EIC (LOCAL) and EIC (REGULATION).

When weights on the various college-credit classes are different, it penalizes students who decide the lower-point classes are more appropriate for their career paths, said Ward Roberts, director of innovation and advanced academics.

The changed proposal also includes changing the configuration of 19 courses that count in the Class Rank GPA.

Instead of specifying Level 2 and Level 3 for LOTE courses, the new proposal allows a student to take any two levels of the same language. Currently, the requirement that a student take a third-level Spanish class has put many students in a class they would not ordinarily take and one that is so difficult that they are earning lower grades and some barely passing it.

Also, the science-heavy course selection among the 19 courses has been changed to include only four (not five) science courses. Students will also be able to choose one additional advanced course, giving additional flexibility to their schedules.

The Council also recommended that all students – not just students taking dual credit classes – start their collegiate journey by taking the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessment. The test is designed to measure a students’ readiness for college-level work in reading, writing and math. It has been the standard gateway test into dual credit coursework.

Midwestern State University will also be coming to the table, offering dual credit courses along with Vernon College. The District will also pursue more On Ramp courses, offered in collaboration with the University of Texas-Austin.

 

Budget Information for 2019-2020

Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod launched the next year’s budget process Monday by giving board members a preliminary 2019-2020 budget calendar to help walk them through the budgeting process that will extend through August.

He also printed out information, such as the coding chart, that is available to all on the website but is now at their fingertips for the budget journey ahead.

In December, staffing decisions are made with principals and initial enrollment projections are set based on demographer information.

 

Middle School Update

Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths introduced a change that has been a discussion point among administrators for many years. He asked board members to consider moving WFISD’s three middle school campuses to a 7–period day, instead of the current 8-period day.

Expecting middle school students to juggle eight classes per day has created a stressful environment for many students. Asking teachers to prepare seven classes each day (with one planning period) for an 8-period day is also a heavy load, he said.

The current 8-period day also requires more staff at a time when it can be difficult to find enough qualified staff.

“No one would be losing his job,” said Mr. Griffiths of the change.

He also asked board members to consider changes to Kirby Middle School. He asked that Kirby move to a “School Within a School” concept for its Middle Year International Baccalaureate program, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.

The “School Within a School” concept would allow students to opt into the Middle Year IB program by applying for it and being accepted. Currently, every one of Kirby’s 603 students in grades 6, 7 and 8 is automatically a part of the advanced Middle Year program, though the advanced, rigorous courses are not a fit for some.

“Not every student is meant for IB,” said Mr. Griffiths.

Students who continue to take the Middle Year Program at Kirby can then continue it at Hirschi High School by continuing to take IB courses or by applying for the most advanced Diploma program. Currently 40 to 50 Hirschi students take a smattering of IB courses; Hirschi graduates about 30 Diploma graduates per year, said Mr. Griffiths.

Kirby Principal Shannon Cunningham said she favors the change to a 7-period day at Kirby. “Eight (classes) is a lot,” she said. “This plan would be best for kids, and help teachers, too.”

 

Facilities Overview

As the school district moves closer to asking the community for another bond, board members must agree on a few basic assumptions about schools and the community’s desires, said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt.

“We know smaller is better, because it’s relationships,” said Mr. Kuhrt. “It has nothing to do with a smaller building.  It’s the amount of people having interactions with students.”

Board members had asked Mr. Kuhrt to research the “ideal size” for a school building, but “ideal size” depends on the board’s objectives, he said.

He cited a study by John Hattie that studied the influences on students’ growth. The study showed the relative importance of teachers and after-school activities and the relative unimportance of building design.

In the end, a student’s relationships with teachers is what is most important for student learning. Each classroom needs a quality teacher who believes he or she has what the student needs and can get them to perform.

A large school can be broken down into “houses” or “pods”.

A large school can add a ninth-grade wing.

WFISD does not have a transportation problem, since the entire district is 67 square miles, “very small,” said Mr. Kuhrt.  All students can be transported to the Career Education Center in nine to 10 minutes, he said. The District’s only concern regarding transportation would be, “Do we want to transport them out of a neighborhood?” he said.

Board members agreed to schedule a work session or Saturday session in January to hash out their goals for the next bond issue and create a few basic assumptions about building or closing schools.

 

Consent Agenda

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the Consent Agenda, which included:

  • Financial reports as of Oct. 31, 2018
  • RFQ #19-05 Architectural and Engineering Services
  • CSP #19-07 Memorial Stadium Repair—Deck coating
  • Counselor Compensation Review

 

Presentations

Board members recognized TGCA Volleyball Academic All-State Student Athletes. To be considered an Academic All-State honoree, athletes must have an overall GPA of 94 for grades 9-11, be a varsity participant or member of the support staff of that sport in good standing, and a graduating senior of good moral character.

The student athletes at Rider High School who received Academic All-State honors for volleyball (under the direction of Coach Alysha Humpert):

  • Devon Browning
  • Logan Browning
  • Lauren Dodson
  • Lindsey Dodson

The student athletes at Wichita Falls High School receiving Academic All-State honors for volleyball (under the direction of Coach Dakota Crockett):

  • Ainslee Buckley
  • Loren Coburn
  • Paige Coburn
  • Ashton Guess
  • Aubrie Kuhrt
  • Emma Kuhrt
  • Lyndsie Schroeder
  • Laryssa Villarreal

The following Rider High School student athlete received All-State Team honors for volleyball:

  • Meredith Fisher

 

Board members also congratulated the 2017-18 Wichita Falls High School Girls Soccer Team on earning the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.

The Lady Coyotes soccer team received the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for their cumulative GPA for the 2017-2018 school year. Of the 206 recipients for this award, the Lady Coyotes GPA of 4.07 tied for the 17th highest GPA in the nation and was the highest GPA of the five recipients in the state of Texas. This is the 13th time the Lady Coyotes soccer team has earned this achievement. The Lady Coyotes are coached by Rob Woodard.

 

Public Comment

In all, eight community members addressed board members with their concerns in the Public Comment portion of the board meeting. Five high school students and three community members asked board members to consider facility issues, such as building one large high school, and to address the grade point average policy by giving more weight to the dual credit courses.

Midwestern State University Provost Dr. James Johnston addressed board members, telling them that MSU was excited to begin offering dual credit coursework. He said MSU’s offerings will make higher education accessible and affordable to more students, helping them see early-on that they are college material.