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Honors course grade weighting should be reinstated

The below statement was submitted to the School Board at its April 23, 2019 meeting along with similar statements made by concerned parents and students regarding the new School Board policy which removes honors course grade weighting for honors classes taken by Laguna Beach High School juniors and all students graduating from Laguna Beach High School thereafter. As a result of parent and student disagreement with the new policy, the School Board indicated that it will further review the removal of honors course grade weighting at the next School Board meetings on May 14th and May 28th.

Please attend the meetings and voice your concerns so that honors course grade weighting is reinstated, ensuring that Laguna Beach High School juniors and all students moving forward are treated consistently with honors students in surrounding school districts and with current seniors and past graduates of Laguna Beach High School. GPAs matter and so too do the opinions of Laguna Beach School District parents and students.

April 23, 2019 statement submitted to School Board:

First, I would like to state that I respect the work that the School Board does, even when I do not agree with every one of its decisions. This is the first time I am compelled to voice my disagreement with a School Board policy.

The current policy which eliminates honors course grade weighting is unfair to our honors students, puts them at a disadvantage when competing for limited spots at universities across the country, discourages students from challenging themselves with honors classes, and adds stress to students taking honors courses for fear those classes may result in lower grades and thereby lower GPAs than students taking less demanding classes.

I have two students who attend Laguna Beach schools. Both are negatively affected by the current policy.

My 11th grade daughter has taken many honors courses at the high school, worked hard to get As in all of them, and yet her GPA is lower than her peers taking honors classes at schools in surrounding school districts. It is these students that she is competing with for limited spots at colleges across the country.

GPAs should not by themselves define students. But they are used by colleges and college coaches as a shorthand way to decide whether to further consider a potential student for a spot at a college or on a team. GPAs do matter. The whole point of grade weighting is to fairly compensate honors students for the advanced material and quantity of work demanded by honors courses. The current policy unfairly lowers LBUSD honors students’ GPAs and hampers their ability to compete against students in other districts who are receiving the weighted grades.

I also have a son finishing up eighth grade at Thurston and considering which classes to take at the high school next year. The current policy discourages him and other hard working students from taking the more challenging honors classes, for fear of getting a lower grade in the more challenging class.

On behalf of my two children and all the other students challenging themselves and putting in the work demanded by the honors courses, I respectfully request that you reinstate grade weighting for honors courses in our district. Level the playing field with other school districts so that LBUSD honors students can fairly compete.

In closing, I would like to remind the Board that we live in an environment where parents are allegedly unlawfully paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure spots for their children in universities across the country. We are requesting that LBUSD students be able to fairly compete for those spots based on their hard work and accomplishments.

The current policy should be changed and honors course grade weighting should be retroactively reinstated so as to not harm any of our students.

Emilie Judd

Laguna Beach