March 20, 2013 - A 4.0 isn't perfect anymore at Clarkston High School. For that, students' grade point averages have to go up to five.
"It is a good thing for our students," said Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock. "I think it will encourage more kids to take tougher classes."
"I think it is a really good thing for Clarkston," said Shawn Ryan, deputy superintendent.
Clarkston Board of Education approved the 5.0 weighted grading scale for some classes, with GPA's retroactively recalculated, on Feb. 25 with a 5-0 vote. President Cheryl McGinnis and Trustee Joan Patterson were absent.
"I believe the adoption of this grading scale, from talking to other schools, will incentivize them to take some of these classes where normally they wouldn't," said Principal Gary Kaul. "It is my hope it would help do that."
The new weighted system will be in effect for all Advanced Placement courses, World Language V, and core classes in Dual Enrollment programs with administrative approval.
It will also be used for higher level International Baccalaureate classes, which include two Language Arts, two Social Studies, two sciences, math, World Language, elective IB Psychology or computer science, and higher level courses in music.
Clarkston is not alone. Other schools currently using the 5.0 weighted system in Oakland County are Oxford, Birmingham, Berkley, Ferndale, Southfield Lathrup, Troy and West Bloomfield.
The administration took a look at the local schools as well as those around the state using the weighted five point scale. Rock added it will help students when they apply for colleges and scholarships.
"When a Clarkston student achieves a 4.0 and a graduate of another high school achieves a 4.8, it advantages the student from the other school even though colleges recalculate grades," Rock explained. "I think this change will increase the number of scholarship and college opportunities for our students."
Treasurer Steve Hyer asked for the change to be made in the upcoming school year, 2013-2014, instead of right away.
"I see this as let's do this for the rigor of our program. The kids have chosen what they have chosen for other factors," he pointed out. "This might change what they choose moving forward."
But Kaul said they want to put as many students as possible in the best position they can for high school and their future.
"It's undeniable if a student takes a rigorous course load in high school, particularly their senior year, it prepares them better for college," he said. "You have differing opinions when it should be started. If there is something that will harm the students, I will pull the plug."
Kaul also said the technology department can begin the process immediately.
Secretary Rosalie Lieblang asked if classes added for the higher level IB course would be included, and asked for the board to create a criteria. Hyer agreed, and requested a board-issued policy for when high-rigor classes would be added to the course list.
"Some districts struggle to go to a five point scale because some students slack off because a 'B' is good enough," said Trustee Sue Boatman. "I am sure you will be tracking how many additional students are taking rigorous classes."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.