Texas Education

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Awarding high school credit – Humble ISD and other districts

Posted by Texas Education on March 3, 2009

This was the subject in an email I received recently from a good friend of mine, Deborah Mowrey, who used to be a high school counselor and also has children of her own in high school now. This is a somewhat boring topic, if you will, but nonetheless important one, especially if you have a struggling child in high school. Or they may just be struggling in one subject.  It may seem like a small issue, but trust me, it’s pretty big to literally hundreds of kids and their families. Here is the email I received from Deb to the administration, with her delima:

In our district grades for each semester “stand alone” and are not averaged together for the purpose of determining credit.  I have researched this and found that many other districts including some of the best in the state average semester grades together.  Indeed, two of the very best school districts in our area, Clear Creek ISD and Spring Branch ISD average semesters together to determine awarding of credit. This change is not a policy that would “dumb down” standards,  nor is it about lowering standards, or making classes easier, this policy would encourage students to do better the second semester.  I fail to see a benefit to our current policy. For example, a student could receive a 69 average for the first semester, work hard and receive an 80 the second and still receive credit for only the second semester.  If the semesters were averaged together there would be an obvious incentive to do much better the second semester. The more incentive a student has to make better grades, the more likely they are to do so.  Rather than feeling defeated the student would be motivated to try harder.

I believe this policy needs to be revisited  particularly in light of freshmen transitioning to high school. The failure rate is usually highest among freshmen (I am a former high school counselor) as they are learning to cope with the greater demands of high school.

If our goal is to graduate ALL students we need to look at every way possible to help them succeed in earning the required credits.  As you know, when students begin falling behind and becoming discouraged it is often too late. This is simply a district policy change which we clearly have the prerogative to make. It would cost nothing and actually save the district money. One of the KHS counselors (not my child”s) told me that this policy change has been suggested and encouraged before. I can see no down side!

You might think this is a no brainer, and a simple answer, but alas, not so. I will keep you posted as to the responses she receives and how this is solved in our district.  I would love to hear from other districts, as well.

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