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Greenport looks to change how grade point averages are determined

Following months of research, Greenport High School may change how it determines student grade point averages by adding more weight to honors and advanced placement courses and including physical education scores. 

The proposal comes after a committee of parents, faculty members and students surveyed more than a dozen Suffolk County school districts and evaluated their grading practices. The survey found that more than half those districts weighted honors classes to 105 percent and a third of them scored advanced placement classes to 110 percent.

The committee, which was led by high school principal Gary Kalish, also surveyed Greenport students and found that 80 percent were in favor of weighting grades and 70 percent felt physical education classes should count toward GPA scores.

“If there’s a small chance that the possibility of having a weighted grade might encourage them to take a risk and enroll in a course they might think is a challenge or a reach, for them to take on that challenge and work hard all year with the idea that there’s a small incentive to help compensate for that work they’re doing, I think it’s worth it to take a chance to encourage that academic challenge and that risk-taking environment,” Mr. Kalish said.

Similarly, the committee asked other schools how they counted students’ Regents grades in GPA scores. Several other districts have them as 20 percent of the final grade just like Greenport currently does, but more districts have them count for less.

Greenport is considering changing its Regents policy because those state exams aren’t graded the same as tests given by district teachers.

“They’ve changed the way they scale and equate the regents,” committee member Bob McInnis said. “What they did is they took the normal bell curve … and they squished it. Algebra I today, for example, is anyone who gets in the 90s will get pushed into the 80s. And many of the people in the lower grades will get pushed up above 60. So many more people pass now, but it’s much, much harder to get in the 90s.”

The committee also reached out to Nancy Viall, Bureau Chief of Test Development for the New York State Education Department, who said she did not recommend averaging Regents into GPAs, Mr. McInnis said.

Greenport teachers who were surveyed, however, felt the regents should still count toward a student’s final grades, but agreed the tests aren’t a good reflection of what students are learning in their classrooms, Mr. McInnis said.

Currently, all Greenport classes are worth the same amount and students are required to pass physical education to graduate but it’s not included in their GPA.

The Greenport Board of Education is looking to vote on the three components at its next meeting, and then defer to the committee on the implementation of these practices.

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