Class rankings — key because they are used for automatic admission at several public universities in Texas — will be done differently in the Keller district, starting with students who will be freshmen in the next one to two years.
To help reduce stress on high-achieving students, trustees approved a plan to count just 17 core classes in the system that determines which students rate at the top of the class, starting with 2019-20 freshmen. They also agreed to change the notification process — freshmen in 2018-19 won’t know their official class ranking in high school until the end of junior year.
A “cut-off score” for the top 10 percent will be posted for each semester.
“I think it’s going to alleviate a lot of the stress students put on themselves,” said Board president Cindy Lotton.
Trustees voted 6-1 at the Dec. 7 board meeting in favor of the plan. Trustee Brad Schofield voted “no,” asking for more research.
Currently, every class a student takes counts toward class rankings and all AP and pre-AP classes are weighted with 10 extra points.
Under the new system, just the 17 classes required for graduation will receive weighting and be counted in class rankings: four years of English and social studies (which includes two credits senior year), three years of math and science and two years of foreign language.
Lotton, a school counselor, said that most colleges request unweighted grade point averages, so not weighting Advanced Placement classes won’t impact admissions.
The University of Texas at Austin has automatic admission for the top 7 percent, and the number drops to top 6 percent in 2019. For Texas A&M University, it’s the top 10 percent. Several other universities require top 25 percent and/or certain standards on ACT or SAT scores for automatic admission.
Two people spoke against the plan at the meeting.
Susan Kenney, parent of a Central High student, said she thought some students would stop taking extra AP classes if they didn’t count toward class ranking.
“They’re not setting our students up for success,” Kenney said.
To get into a top university, students need to take the most rigorous classes available, and schools should encourage that rigor, she said. In the new plan, officials “are doing the opposite.”
Lotton said the new system would open up new areas of study for high-achieving students.
Administrators have said that some top students often wouldn’t take career and technology classes like engineering or health sciences because they weren’t weighted, or they would drop music or athletics to max out on AP classes.
At the November board meeting, Amanda Bigbee, the district’s general counsel, told trustees the committee working on the new policy focused on minimizing ways students could “game the system” and had several students help in the process.
“This is a big philosophical change,” Bigbee said at the December meeting,
This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.