Pinellas School Board changes grading policy for honors students

"It makes sense. Most school districts have it that way," says Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego. WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2103)
"It makes sense. Most school districts have it that way," says Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego.WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2103)
Published February 26 2014
Updated February 26 2014

LARGO — How valuable is an honors class?

For next year's ninth-graders, the answer is: a little less.

Students will earn a half-point less toward their grade-point average for earning an "A" in an honors class than for the same grade earned in more challenging Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual-enrollment courses.

Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego brought the idea up a year ago after meeting with a group of high school students. The juniors and seniors suggested that honors classes be weighted less than more difficult courses.

"It makes sense. Most school districts have it that way," he said, adding that other Tampa Bay school systems, including Hillsborough County, differentiate between honors and college-level courses for GPA determination.

The state already requires that AP, IB and dual-enrollment be weighted the same, Grego said. School districts have discretion with honors classes.

The School Board approved the change Tuesday with no discussion. It will apply to students who enter ninth grade in the 2014/15 school year. Current high school students won't be affected.

Under the current system, a student with an "A" in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, honors and dual-enrollment courses gets a 5.0 on a five-point scale. An "A" in a regular class is weighted a 4.0.

With the change, an "A" in an honors class will be worth a 4.5 — making it slightly more valuable than a regular class and slightly less than the most challenging courses.

The change might seem small, but it could impact students competing for class ranking and scholarships. Some parents suggested last year that the change could prompt students to reconsider whether to sign up for AP or honors.

Grego said he thought students would still pick the course that made the most sense for them. Students often are compelled to take AP because of the chance to earn college credit.

Students must get a 3 or above on a five-point scale to pass an AP exam. Many universities offer students college credit based on their test score.