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Gainesville City Schools board considers credit policy

System signs dual-enrollment agreement with Lanier Tech

POSTED: August 5, 2013 9:24 p.m.

The issue of accepting and awarding class credits is still a work in progress for the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education.

The new policy is being developed to outline the system’s procedures, including how credits would be awarded according to a new statewide policy of students being able to test out of certain high school classes by taking the End of Course Tests.

Another policy issue discussed at the Monday work session of the school board focused on awarding credits to eighth-grade students who are taking high-school-level courses.

“My memory of the way it used to work is that the parents or student can elect whether to receive high school credit or not, or retake the course in high school,” said board member David Syfan. Syfan went on to say that procedure allowed for students to not have that class affect their eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship, or impact their high school GPA.

The proposed policy states the board of education “shall award units of credit” for middle school courses that are based on the high school curriculum.

“The Department of Education has advised that we do run the risk of it coming into question whether a child has completed eighth-grade curriculum, for instance, if they do not accept the high school credit,” explained Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards. “For HOPE eligibility purposes, those grades are actually not calculated into the HOPE Scholarship. They would be a part of the high school grade-point average used for school honors.”

Both Syfan and board member Delores Diaz said it should be made clear to middle school students and parents that these grades have an impact, for better or worse.

“My concern about the middle school grades counting toward the GPA,” said Diaz, “is we need again to make that perfectly clear to students and parents that credit awarded for high school classes taken in middle school can ... dilute their GPA.”

Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the policies of awarding credits have “changed so much in the last five years,” which can confuse students.

“This isn’t a Gainesville problem, it’s an everywhere problem,” she added.

The policy will now go to the individual school governance councils for review. Dyer said she anticipates it to come back to the school board at its September work session.

The policy also provides clarification on how credits are awarded for dual or joint enrollment students, lending nicely to a separate, previous event at the board’s work session, when officials from Lanier Technical College signed a dual enrollment agreement with the system.

The program allows high school students to earn college credit while still enrolled at the high school level.

“First of all, I want to thank the Gainesville City Schools for this opportunity to enter into the dual enrollment agreement,” said Lanier Technical College President Ray Perren. “Dual enrollment has such a positive track record across the state. In fact, 98 percent of the high school students in a dual-enrollment program will graduate from high school, statewide. So this is just a great opportunity.”

Dyer agreed.

“It is a possibility that will change the lives of the majority of our students,” she said. “They can have hope that they can go on to complete a college education. And that’s a hope that many of them ... did not have before we began working with Lanier Tech on the dual enrollment.”

The newly signed agreement will extend the program in the Gainesville school system for one year.


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