January 3, 2006

Weighted grade approved for AP courses

Hamilton High School students who take Advanced Placement (AP) courses next year will have an opportunity to earn a higher grade point average than their peers who do not take the college-level courses. School Board members approved the change that was recommended by a high school study committee of staff, students and parents.

The AP Weighted Grades Committee concluded last April that weighted grades would provide an incentive for Hamilton students to take AP classes. The school has one of the lowest AP course participation rates in southeastern Wisconsin.

Hamilton Principal David Furrer noted that students who complete more AP courses significantly increase their probability of graduating from a 4-year college or university. He said the school’s low participation rate was a concern because research indicates that AP courses can be a decisive factor in preparing students for the rigors of college curriculum.

Under the current grading system, there is no incentive for students interested in maintaining the highest possible grade point average to take the difficult classes.

“We unwittingly established grade point average and class rank to work against AP enrollments,” Furrer said

School Board Member Dawn Van Aacken agreed that the current policy discouraged some students from taking AP courses.

“I know a student who did not take harder AP classes because she did not want to hurt her GPA,” Van Aacken said. “If she had the opportunity to take AP classes with weighted grades she would have been inclined to take the classes.”

School Board members at the meeting unanimously approved the committee recommendation with Mike Hyland absent from the meeting. The change will mean that AP courses will be graded on a 5.0 rather than a 4.0 scale used for other classes. An A in an AP class will be worth 5.0, a B will be 4.0 and a C will be 3.0.

Van Aacken advised Furrer to provide timely information to students and parents so that they are aware of the policy change before selecting next year’s classes.

Special Education staff, handbook approved

School Board members approved $60,000 worth of additional Special Education paraprofessional assistance. A total of 2.44 full-time equivalency positions was approved that will bring additional support at Templeton Middle School and Marcy and Woodside elementary schools.

In another move, the School Board adopted the district’s “Special Education Procedures Handbook,” a 57-page manual that was rewritten due to the reauthorization of IDEIA in 2004. Changes will be discussed in detail at a Jan. 11 Board Study Session.

Mathematics intervention initiative report given

Education Services Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz updated the School Board on the Early Mathematics Empowerment (EME) initiative. The program started last year when a part-time teacher was hired at Lannon Elementary School to provide intervention for students struggling in mathematics. This year all the district’s elementary schools have a part-time position in place to screen first-grade students and provide services. A total of 55 first-graders and 13 second-graders are receiving services.

Schultz said EME teachers will begin to assess kindergarten students in January so that next year’s first-graders will receive services at the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. School Board Member Deborah Briggs asked to have a presentation from EME staff at a future meeting.

Candidates to run for School Board

In the Superintendent’s Report, Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., reported that three citizens filed papers to run for 3-year School Board terms. Incumbents Deborah Briggs and Dawn Van Aacken will run unopposed for their seats representing the Village of Butler and Town of Lisbon, respectively. Newcomer Lynn Kristensen will run for the Village of Menomonee Falls position that is currently held by Jennifer Rude Klett, who decided not to run for re-election.

Personnel business

In personnel business, the School Board accepted the retirement request of Hamilton family and consumer education teacher Jane Kyle, effective at the end of the school year.