MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Central High School is trying to provide a greater payoff for students willing to test their mettle by enrolling in advanced placement (AP) classes.
The high school recently moved to "weighted" grades that entail higher scores for marks earned by students taking the more rigorous coursework.
Advanced placement classes are college-level in difficulty, and students can earn college credit with high scores on AP exams.
Central School District uses a state grant that awards about $10,000 a year to subsidize the program. Students don't pay to enroll in the classes, though they do have to foot the cost for official tests.
Jannice Link-Jobe, district assistant superintendent, said some students shy away from AP classes, fearing a B or lower grade could harm their grade-point averages.
"Some are trying to keep their GPA above a 3.8 because it's an important piece in lots of scholarships," Link-Jobe said. "So, even though there's incentive for college credit, it's not enough to risk the GPA."
AP classes had been graded on the traditional scale, with a 4.0 for an A, a 3.0 for a B, a 2.0 for a C, and so on. Under the new system, an A is worth 5.0, a B is 4.0, a C is 3.0, a D is 2.0, and an F is 0. A grade of B in an AP class is an A by normal standards.
Central High Principal Sylvia Warren said other school districts, such as Dallas and Eugene, have switched to weighted grading.
About 30 students at Central High are enrolled in the school's AP literature, biology and U.S. history offerings, Warren said.
"I would like to see about double that," she said.
How many students sign up for AP classes in the fall would determine whether the change was successful, Link-Jobe said.
"Our purpose is to take the fear of a compromised GPA away so they can have an incredible learning opportunity," she said.