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Criteria for honor grads may change
BOE looks to toughen requirements for top 10

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education is hoping to create tougher requirements for top 10 students at each high school.

"We want to encourage kids to strive to take harder courses for college," board member C.C. Bates said during last week's work session.

The top 10 students at each high school are those with the highest grade point averages at the end of the school year in the senior class in the college preparatory program of study. Eligible students could have taken any type of classes - advanced placement, Quest or average classes.

The board is looking into changing the honor graduate requirements in the Program Planning Guide to reward students who have taken advanced placement, Quest or joint enrollment classes.

"(The top 10 students) are doing great, and we're proud of it, but (the advanced students) are being slighted," board member Johnny Smith said during the meeting. "That's wrong. I want the top 10 to be the best of the best, period."

Kathy Reese, director of high school curriculum and career, technical and agricultural education for Newton County Schools, said some advanced classes are weighted.

"Newton County provides a 5 percent multiplier on AP, joint enrollment and dual enrollment. Gifted (Quest) classes are not weighted," she said in an e-mail. "This multiplier is included in the calculation of overall GPA for honor graduates."

Still, Smith said all top 10 students should have taken AP, Quest or joint enrollment classes, rather than scoring high in average classes.

"Anybody who doesn't take those (advanced classes) shouldn't be in the top 10," Smith said.

All of the other board members said they agreed with Smith.

"I think they should be rewarded," board Chairman Almond Turner said about advanced students. "I don't think (the current requirements are) fair."

The board hopes to change the honor graduate requirements starting with next year's ninth graders; therefore, it won't be fully implemented until those students are seniors.

"We want to implement it for the future," board member Cathy Dobbs said.

The members plan to introduce any changes to the Program Planning Guide at tonight's monthly board meeting. It starts at 7 p.m. and will be held in the board room, located at 2109 Newton Dr. N.E. in Covington.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.