AP student advantage cited
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board voted 7-0 Wednesday not to alter the district’s grading policy for students who take more rigorous Advanced Placement courses for college credit.
According to the proposed policy change, students in AP classes would have been graded on a 4.5 grading scale, rather than the traditional 4.0 scale. Students taking the end-of-year AP exam to receive college credit for course work would have had the course weighted on a 5.0 scale.
The grading scale change was proposed in response to the Louisiana Department of Education’s push for public school districts to expand AP course offerings and “entice” students to take the courses, said Sandra Billeaudeau, assistant superintendent overseeing the Office of Instructional Services.
School Board member Hunter Beasley questioned the fairness of the scale as it relates to honors programs or gifted students. He said some of those courses are just as rigorous if not more rigorous than AP classes.
School officials have said that about 300 Lafayette Parish high school students took an AP course last school year. The number of students who took the end-of-course AP exam was not available.
In the 2010-11 school year, 113 students took an AP exam and scored at least a three or higher, which qualified them for some level of college credit.
Retired high school teacher Melinda Mangham urged the board to reconsider the grading scale change because of the unfair advantage it offered AP students. She equated the change to grade inflation with students receiving extra credit just for signing up for an AP course.
Mangham said college-bound students may also run into issues when universities convert their grade point averages.
“Those (college) admissions officers understand an AP class and would much rather have a B in an AP class than an A in a regular class,” Mangham said.
A traditional 4.0 grade-point scale is one where an “A” equals four quality points, a “B” three points, a “C” two points, a “D” one point and an “F” zero points.
The grading scale change was part of updates to the district’s pupil progression plan, which is revised annually to include state level changes and district-level adjustments to policies related to attendance and student promotion and retention.
Board members Beasley, Mark Cockerham, Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb, Tommy Angelle, Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion voted in favor of approving the pupil progression plan without the amended grading scale for AP students. Board members Greg Awbrey and Mark Allen Babineaux were absent.
Another pupil progression policy change involved the amount of credit received by students who miss schoolwork or tests due to suspension or expulsion. Last year, the plan stated students could receive partial credit.
An initial revision proposed July 18 stated students could receive a minimum of 50 percent credit for their make-up work, but some board members opposed that change and requested a second revision so students are not penalized academically for bad behavior. The policy now allows students to make up 100 percent of their work within seven days, said Phyllis Landry, director of academics.
Following the meeting, Landry said the committee that proposed the AP incentive will reconvene.
“We definitely want to encourage students to take advantage of AP,” she said.