The Montgomery County Board of Education took a step yesterday toward putting its honor and advanced students in a more competitive position when applying to college by approving "weighted" class rankings.
Board members also discussed the impact of a state proposal that all students must obtain one credit in fine arts before they can graduate.
By a 7-to-1 vote, the board tentatively approved a plan to award extra grade points to students in advanced or honors courses, beginning with the Class of 1987. According to the plan, one point would be added to each A, B, or C grade in such classes -- not on the student's report card, but in the computation of class rankings.
That way, Superintendent Wilmer Cody said, the system's honor students would better compete with other students when they apply to colleges their junior and senior years. Already, he said, half of the public high schools in the country use the weighted class-ranking. Six out of seven local systems, he said, weight either grade point averages, class rankings, or both.
The new policy would encourage students to take more difficult courses rather than opt for the easy A in a less taxing subjects, Cody said.
"A lot of the students have been interested in this," Lisa Folstrom, an honors student at Paint Branch High School, said after the vote. "It has always caused resentment when people took the easy courses and breezed through with As, and other people, who really worked much harder to get Bs in honors courses, ended up not doing so well in the class standings."
Board Chairman Robert Shoenberg said the board will take a final vote after it has gathered more public reaction.
The fine arts requirement the board discussed yesterday is tied to a State Board of Education proposal that high school students statewide obtain one fine arts credit to graduate. The state board is expected to approve the plan in April; it is likely to go into effect next fall.
Dick Pioli, director of aesthetic education for the county schools, said the system already offers fine arts courses in four areas: dance, drama, music and visual arts. However, only 43 percent of its current high school students have taken a course in one of the areas.
The system will have to hire an estimated 40 additional teachers in fine arts, phased in over a three-year period, Cody said. School officials had no estimate yesterday of the cost of implementing the fine arts requirement.
Some cosmetic changes will also be made with the new program, Pioli said.
"We would want to change the name of 'Art Appreciation,' " he told the board. "That term doesn't turn the students on and we don't want to kill them with the title of the course."