Roaring Fork School District high-schoolers might notice a few changes in policy when they return to classes today.
The RFSD board of education approved a pair of measures over the summer that will bring weighted grade point averages to the district and change graduation requirements for 2018.
Under the old system, GPAs were tallied based on a 4-point scale, regardless of the level of the course taken. Beginning this year, college-level classes (but not honors courses) will count for an extra point, creating incentives for students to take Advanced Placement and Colorado Mountain College courses.
The change also makes it possible to achieve an average above the standard 4.0, and could spell the end to graduations with seven valedictorians.
The move comes as Glenwood Springs High School expands its AP course offerings under the Colorado Legacy School Initiative. It will not apply retroactively, meaning that current freshmen will likely benefit the most from the change.
The class of 2018 will also be the first to graduate under the new criteria, which many view as more stringent.
Although they’ll still be offered, nonspecific electives are no longer required, shifting more focus to core subjects.
Students must take at least 10 credits (two semesters) of English each year and complete a total of at least 30 credits or demonstrate college readiness with competency through level III.
Math requirements are similar, but don’t require a senior-year course if the requirements have already been met. In social studies, students follow a standard path of American history, American democracy and geography. They must complete at least 30 credits of science, both physical and biological, a year each of physical education and fine arts, and a semester of health. Finally, an approved capstone project will earn them a diploma.
Both GPA and graduation requirements are designed within the framework of standards-based education, meaning that more recent learning counts more than early learning and students can “reassess” a standard they previously struggled with to prove they’ve learned it.
District officials feel the increased rigor is entirely compatible with the standards approach, and anticipate the changes will allow for enhanced preparation for college and the workforce.