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School board changes rules for honors

COVINGTON - After holding several discussions concerning tougher requirements for Top 10 students and honor graduates, Newton County Board of Education members came to an agreement during their last meeting.

The board unanimously approved revisions to Section F of the Program Planning Guide, which changed designations of honor graduates and Top 10 students.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2012, or this school year's entering freshmen, 10 points will be added to a student's final class average for Advanced Placement, Joint Enrollment and Dual Enrollment classes in English, math, science, social studies and foreign language, according to the board.

The student's average in AP, Joint Enrollment and Dual Enrollment classes already receives an additional 5 percent multiplier.

Honor graduates also must be in the college preparatory program of study or technical/career program of study, must not have received a No Credit designation due to absences, must not have been suspended for a formal hearing on more than one occasion and must pass all sections of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests like other graduates in order to be considered for the recognition at graduation.

Also, the board added to the program planning guide that beginning with the class of 2012, honor graduates taking two or more Advanced Placement courses shall be designated as "Honor Graduates with Distinction." Those students' grades are pulled from the first seven consecutive semesters of high school and must have completed the final four semesters at the school from which they will graduate.

"By stepping this up, we are encouraging kids to take the more rigorous curriculum," said board member C.C. Bates. "It's something colleges look at; it makes (students) more competitive."

The board also discussed implementing more AP courses into the curriculum, so students have more choices.

"Lots of AP classes can be offered, and we offer the bare minimum," Bates said. "I know it means more money, but at some point we've got to do it."

In other changes to the program planning guide, the board also clarified that the Top 10 graduates shall be the Top 10 honor graduates from the college preparatory program of study. Also, the students designated as first and second honor graduates, or the valedictorian and salutatorian, will come from the Honor Graduates with Distinction list who have the highest and second highest numerical average earned, with the next eight positions finishing up the Top 10 students.

The board members also previously had discussions regarding the first honor graduate, or valedictorian.

"The first honor graduate will be the student who has the highest numerical average earned for the first seven consecutive semesters during the student's high school career with the final four of the seven semesters having been completed at the school from which he/she is graduating," the current program planning guide reads.

The members had discussed removing the requirement of the four semesters being served at the graduating school since some students may have to move due to "unavoidable circumstances."

After discussions, the board decided to keep the same requirements as was previously listed in the program planning guide.

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