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Edgar to re-evaluate grading for dual credit classes

By Kevin O’Brien

Members of the Edgar School Board have agreed to reconsider the district’s grading practices for dual-credit college courses after a couple of parents claimed that the current system puts students at a disadvantage when trying to maintain a high grade-point average (GPA).

Parents Corey and Tina Higgins spoke to the board at its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, detailing how their son lost his spot at the top of his class after taking a college-level class at Northcentral Technical College (NTC).

Corey Higgins said NTC calculates students’ GPAs based on their full semester grades, but the Edgar School District uses quarterly grades when assigning GPAs. As a result, he said his son’s GPA dropped from 4.0 to 3.835 after he earned an A- in the first quarter and an A+ during the second quarter of his trigonometry class at NTC.

If his son had taken the same class at Marathon High School or any other neighboring district, Higgins said he “would have graduated with the 4.0 GPA he earned.”

“Edgar is utilizing the practice of weighting all quarter grades at the halfsemester on dual-credit courses,” he said. “The college isn’t doing it and other districts aren’t doing this.”

Higgins said the available points in the semester-long class are not equally distributed between the first and second quarters. In one class, he said just 28 percent of the points are available in the first quarter, essentially giving them more “weight” in calculating a student’s GPA.

“Nowhere does it state that a halfgrade will be given by the high school,” he said. “The teacher is following the course as it’s set up by the college. The college sets the pace.”

Tina Higgins said she appreciates the opportunity students have to earn college credits while they’re still in high school, but she worries how the current system affects students’ futures.

“The importance of a competitive GPA cannot be overstated,” she said, noting that it’s one of the top factors when applying for scholarships.

Tina Higgins said she has been asked to teach a couple of NTC classes this spring, and she would have to follow the curriculum, which includes only one out of five tests in the first quarter.

“I would feel uncomfortable as the teacher to say ‘This kid earned this grade based off of 28 percent of the material and then have that calculated toward their GPA,” she said.

The Higginses urged the school board to take a closer look at the issue, with Tina saying they wouldn’t want what happened to their son “to happen to other students.”

Board president Corey Mueller and other board members agreed to discuss the issue at a future meeting.

“I think we can take a deeper dive,” he said.

Other business

n District administrator Cari Guden gave the board an overview of the district’s 2022-2023 state report card, which assigns scores on a 100-point scale based on factors such as attendance, graduation rate and test scores. Each individual school and the district as a whole are graded.

According to the report, the district as a whole “meets expectations,” as did Edgar Elementary. The middle school “exceeds expectations” based on its score of 79.6 – the highest in the area – while the high school dipped into the “meets few expectations” category with a score of 56.3.

Guden cautioned board members about comparing the scores with other districts, as they often have different student demographics, particularly when it comes to economic disadvantages and learning disabilities. She said the state report cards are only one measure of how the district is doing, and the district also issues its own annual report cards, which look at factors related to college and career readiness.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. Mueller said he would like to have a more in-depth conversation at a future meeting as to why the high school score dropped below the “meets expectations” threshold.

“That was the only one that was really glaring to me,” he said.

n The board approved the hiring of Chloe Miland as a third-grade teacher, starting Dec. 22. The hiring was previously approved at the Oct. 25 meeting, but Guden said the teacher’s name was spelled wrong on the contract, so she wanted to make sure it was corrected.

n The board accepted the resignation of Greg Streit as the seventh-grade girls basketball coach, and approved the hiring of Ashley Schilling as his replacement. The eighth-grade coaching position is currently open.

n The board approved the hiring of Tyson Zettler as an assistant wrestling coach.