A new policy is being proposed for DeKalb County High School that would change the academic standards in determining the top ranked students as well as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of each graduating class, beginning with the Class of 2014.
Starting with incoming freshmen who will be graduating in 2014, students would have to complete the more challenging honors and advanced placement (AP) courses in order to be eligible for Valedictorian and Salutatorian and their ACT scores and attendance would also be factors.
A committee, made up of local educators, has been studying the issue and is recommending this new policy to the board of education, which apparently must give it's approval.
David Gash, assistant principal at DCHS and chairman of the committee, says one of the purposes of the proposed new policy is to increase enrollment in the honors and advanced placement courses. "Research has shown that students who are exposed to more rigorous course work in high school are better prepared for college. We feel that by raising the expectations for our students, we are better preparing them for the future."
Under the proposed new policy, DCHS would no longer average the Quality Points Average (QPA) on a four point scale or Grade Point Average (GPA) based on a numerical value. Currently, the highest QPA that a student can earn is a 4.0. Students are then ranked based on a numerical value (GPA 0-100). The Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top-ranking students are those with the highest numerical value. Under the new policy, the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking students will be determined based on a weighted 6 point scale (QPA). The student with the highest (QPA) would be the Valedictorian. The non-weighted 4 point scale would only be used, under the new policy, to determine student eligibility for lottery funded scholarships.
Under the new policy, students enrolled in "honors" and "advanced placement" (AP) courses could earn the following points:
ACT SCORE: Students, under the new policy, would be required to have a 21 or higher on the ACT to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking in the class.
HONORS COURSES: Students, under the new policy, would be required to take a minimum of ten honors and/or AP courses to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking. Honors courses taken by the student must come from English, math, science, social studies, or foreign language in order to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking.
ATTENDANCE: Students, under the new policy, would be required to complete four full semesters at DCHS. Two of the semesters must occur during the senior year. Attendance would only affect Valedictorian and Salutatorian. Attendance would not play a role in student ranking.
TIE BREAKER: If at any time there is a tie between students' GPA's, the school will look at the numerical grade value to determine which student should be ranked the highest.
Once a student has met the requirements for ACT, honors courses, and attendance, the student with the highest GPA will become the Valedictorian. The student with the second highest GPA will be the Salutatorian. The other students would fall in rank based on their GPA. Students who do not meet the new requirements would be ranked AFTER all the other students are ranked who DO meet the new standards.
The committee, which was formed to research other school systems, consists of Chris Vance, Debi DePriest, Jenny Norris, Leslie Rice, Eric Sanders, Melissa Ruch, Rolando Navarro and Lori Myrick, in addition to David Gash. The committee contacted over 40 school systems in Tennessee to collect data to be evaluated.