There's a reason they've made it to the top of their class.
And many of the high-achieving, competitive students at Brainerd High School have figured out that it doesn't pay for them to take several, if any, non-Advanced Placement courses if they want to maintain their high grade-point averages and class rankings. They are better off sitting in a study hall taking independent study AP courses because earning an "A" in a non-AP course could lower their cumulative GPA, affect their class rank and quite possibly keep them out of an Ivy League college.
Brainerd High School administrators are planning to unveil a new grade-point average and class ranking system in order to resolve fairness issues in the system, BHS Principal Steve Razidlo told the school board curriculum committee Thursday.
Razidlo said BHS likely will change to a combination ranking system for ninth- through 12th-graders that would be slowly transitioned into the younger grade levels, possibly starting as early as this year. The concept is used at many other school districts that offer weighted grading systems, such as BHS' AP courses.
If a student receives an "A" in an AP course, that "A" is worth five credits, said Razidlo. If the same student earns an "A" in a non-AP course, that "A" is worth four points. This is how high school students achieve a greater than 4.0 GPA. But in order to maintain a more than 4.0 GPA, the student may choose not to take any additional non-AP courses because an "A" earned in that class would lower his or her GPA.
While high school administrators want to encourage students to take AP courses, which typically have an increased workload, they also want to reward them with higher GPA credits because of the rigor involved.
A combination rank would incorporate the student's cumulative GPA score with the student's earned points rank. This will factor in the number of earned points the student has accrued for all classes they have taken.
Razidlo said he has concerns about the current GPA system because some students have wavered at taking extra classes because it may affect their class rank.
"We want to make it more fair across the board," said Razidlo. "We want to make sure our practices match our beliefs."
BHS Assistant Principal Erich Heise said a junior this fall wanted to take a full load of non-AP courses this semester, but requested that this be accomplished on a credit/no credit basis so his cumulative GPA wouldn't go down and negatively affect his class ranking.
The new GPA system will go back to the BHS honors committee for additional discussion.
The curriculum committee heard a presentation from AP instructors at BHS. BHS administered an all-time high 679 AP exams to 336 students last year with 79 percent achieving a three or above, allowing them to receive college credit for the courses.
"There's an atmosphere here where if you're going to do it, do it well," said AP economics instructor Dave Stark.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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