Proposed change to class rank GPA stirs debate

Published June 20, 2013

LAND O'LAKES — A proposal to change the way Pasco County high schools calculate class rank grade-point averages ran afoul of School Board members, who on Tuesday called for a deeper discussion before offering their final approval.

Board vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley led the charge opposing the recommended rule change, which would count all high school credit-bearing courses toward class rank, starting with freshmen entering in 2014. Currently, rank is based only on the grades received during the six-period school day. The change would include courses such as algebra taken in middle school, and online classes taken outside the school day.

"I'm not exactly comfortable with the direction we are going," Crumbley said, noting she had received several calls from parents who oppose the pending policy revision. "I think the val-sal should be a reflection of the activity going on on campus."

Her questions generated some debate about the importance of participating in school activities vs. the need to give full credit for all courses when determining who's the class valedictorian and who will represent the graduating class at commencement.

Chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong observed that students already have their dual enrollment courses count toward class rank, and some often spend more time at Pasco-Hernando Community College than at high school. Land O'Lakes High School teacher Pat Connolly suggested a middle ground of choosing graduation speakers from a select group of top performers and not just guaranteeing the person with the highest GPA gets to speak.

Superintendent Kurt Browning asked the board members if they wanted his staff to rewrite its proposal. With two members absent, however, the board chose instead to continue its conversation at a July 2 workshop.