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Posted: Monday, August 19th 2013 at 9:50pm

Gainesville School Board tables GPA policy; wants more input

By Marc Eggers Staff
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Dr. Diaz
GAINESVILLE – Grade Point Average - or GPA, as it is most commonly known – and the procedure for accurately determining a student’s GPA, is an issue that the Gainesville School Board wants to get right.

With caution in mind the Board voted Monday night to table until next month making revisions to their policy for calculating student GPA.

Board members want more input regarding any state requirements, HOPE Scholarship standards relative to GPA, and individual School Governance Council recommendations.

Board member Dr. Delores Diaz said, "This Senior class we have now is exceptional and there are (multiple) students…who could be Valedictorian."

It was just eighteen months ago when a heated controversy arose as two students were declared Co-Valedictorians for the Class of 2012.

Parental complaints, outcries from community leaders, and national media coverage of the rallies and protests that sprang up over the split decision vulcanized the Board’s determination to preclude a similar situation from happening again.

"GPA is not really an award; it’s something that all students earn. I think we can continue to expect to have problems until the problem is corrected," Diaz said.

"With the firestorm of controversy we had last year," Dr. Diaz continued, "it was my understanding that the anomaly that creates the problem would be corrected. But it’s still the same procedure; it hasn’t been changed at all."

At issue are current policies concerning GPA calculation for high school students who took some of their high school courses while they were still in middle school, current high school students who are taking college level courses, and students who transfer into the Gainesville School System from school systems that use letter grades rather than numeric grades.

For example, the HOPE Scholarship does not consider high school courses that are taken while a student was in eighth grade (middle school), but Gainesville High School considers those courses when determining their Valedictorian.

Board member David Syfan asked whether there were time constraints on the Board to determine policy. "Is there going to be an issue in delaying implementation of this policy until the next work session? It seems the longer we delay the more problems that could arise."

Superintendent Dr. Merrianne Dyer said that GPA policy was an academic issue.

"Awards (such as Valedictorian and Salutatorian) are a whole other thing," Dyer said. "We need to put the awards out of our mind. It’s really an academic decision."

"I would like very much for us to continue this discussion," Dr. Diaz suggested. "There are multiple reasons I think we need to keep looking at this."

The Board agreed, unanimously.
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