College courses tougher

To the Editor:

I read the editorial board’s response to the Fairmont Area School Board’s decision to stand by its policy not to weight PSEO grades in the same manner that it does AP and College in School (CIS) grades. You agreed their decision made sense, and your reasoning was stated to be that, “There is nothing particularly special about basic college courses, as compared to some of the more rigorous academic programs that the school oversees.” You seem to think that the college courses taken by PSEO students are easier than the “more rigorous academic programs”?that are in house at Fairmont High School.

I would challenge you to support this viewpoint. Even the school board did not take this issue. The research that is out there further does not support your point of view. Eighty-one percent of students taking PSEO felt more challenged than they did taking high school courses. Ninety-four percent of them felt they learned more in PSEO than they did in high school. The average GPA of college freshmen who had taken PSEO is 3.48; the average non-PSEO student’s is 3.07. The average student taking PSEO is a high honors student who wants more challenge and more preparation for actual college courses. The purpose of the more rigorous academic programs you mention is to give students that stay in house a better preparation for college. In other words, to prepare them to take the same classes that PSEO students are taking.

As mentioned at the school board meeting, a significant factor in the board’s decision not to weight grades is financial; the school loses funding when students choose PSEO over in house classes. Then again, who is paying for the teachers who are teaching the in-house program? I understand they are already on staff, but the school is adding courses such as CIS; someone has to be paying for those hours.

The school board also reasoned that students might take bowling as a college course as part of the reason to not weigh grades. It would be unfair to give a weighted grade for bowling. Just as it is currently unfair that the typical academically challenging classes that PSEO students are not weighted. For the record, none of the PSEO students I have talked to have taken bowling.

Finally, there is more than one high school currently weighting PSEO grades. The school board only knew of one until I informed them of more at the school board meeting last Tuesday. Rochester Area Schools has developed a fair and progressive program that allows students to appeal for weighted grades for PSEO classes that meet academic standards. This information has been passed along to Superintendent Joe Brown. We’ll see what becomes of that.

Dr. Scott P. Burtis