Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2010

BLHS principal seeks to beef up honors course offerings

November 11, 2010

Future Basehor-Linwood High School students seeking a challenge may have more honors courses to choose from — and students may have more incentive to enroll in those tougher courses.

BLHS principal Sherry Reeves asked the Basehor-Linwood school board Monday night to approve the addition of five more honors courses in math, science and history, and to approve the expansion of the school’s weighted GPA system to cover all its honors courses.

According to Reeves’ proposal, the school would add honors versions of the school’s algebra II, geometry, world history, biology and chemistry courses. Right now, the only honors classes the school offers are in English.

Reeves said the changes could better prepare students who decide to go on to college, help students compete for more college scholarships and make the district more attractive to families planning to move to the area.

She said that earlier this school year, she talked with a family that moved from Oklahoma and chose to live in the Basehor-Linwood district over other districts in the area because of its test scores. She predicted that future families moving to the area would be making similar comparisons between school districts.

“I am sure they will continue to do comparison and selection of school districts, but one other thing they will be comparing is curriculum,” Reeves said.

At the September school board meeting, the board discussed the possibility of increasing the rigor of courses for college-bound students as a way to improve ACT scores, as well as encouraging students to take those courses by providing extra weight to their grades in those challenging courses. Reeves said her proposals would reflect those ideas.

“We’re basically trying to educate two different tracks, if you will,” Reeves said: one track for students planning to head to college, and another for students preparing to go straight into the workforce out of high school.

The school currently offers a weighted grade system, where students can earn up to five grade points for an A in a course rather than the usual four, in only the 10 courses that offer a college-credit option through Donnelly College. Adding five more honors courses, and expanding the weighted-grade system to all honors courses, would result in 18 weighted courses in all.

Reeves said a survey conducted by BLHS counselor Nancy Silverforb indicated that most area colleges and universities did not consider weighted GPAs when choosing whether to admit students, but they did often look at the weighted numbers when awarding scholarships.

Expanding the school’s honors curriculum could also help the school prepare for adding Advanced Placement courses in the future, Reeves said. AP courses allow students to take an end-of-year test that can earn them college credit.

“You could consider this as our pre-AP program,” Reeves said.

The curriculum changes would go into effect for the 2011-12 school year, and the weighted GPA expansion would first affect the class of 2015.

The school board will consider Reeves’ proposal at its December meeting.

Also during the school board meeting Monday:

  • Superintendent David Howard announced that a ribbon-cutting would take place at the new Basehor-Linwood Middle School building at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21.
  • The board approved, 7-0, a request for the BLHS concert and jazz bands to travel to Chicago.
  • The board approved, 7-0, board president Dayna Miller to be the board’s delegate for the Kansas Association of School Boards.
  • The board approved, 7-0, a service agreement with Air Filters Plus for about $13,000.
  • After a 15-minute executive session, the board approved some personnel changes, all 7-0. The board approved the appointments of Travis Phippen as BLHS assistant wrestling coach, Travis Inlow as BLMS assistant wrestling coach, Kala Coleman as a food service worker and Denis Rockers as a maintenance worker. It accepted the resignations of Tammy Zydlo as BLHS volleyball coach, Kyla Dominick as BLMS volleyball coach and Linda Johnson as a food service worker. It accepted the retirements of Tom Pebley, maintenance worker, and Pauline Vitt, custodian. And it approved the termination of John Bullock, custodian.

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