Lima Senior brings back valedictorians, raises expectations

May 24, 2013

LIMA—Expectations will be higher at Lima Senior High School next year, but those students who meet the challenge can get special recognition.

The Lima school board approved Tuesday changes to the high school's grading system. They include adding pluses and minuses and bringing back valedictorian and salutatorian honors.

A grading committee has been working on a proposal in preparation of the school ditching the small-schools concept and returning to one school next year. The curriculum council approved the proposal before the board voted on it.

Teacher Patrick Horstman, who led the grading committee, said the system is similar to what other schools have and is adopted from the College Board scale. The added pluses and minuses to grades will impact grade-point average. An A or A+ will equal a 4.0 grade-point average, an A- will equal 3.7, B+ will be 3.3 and a B- will be 3.0.

“We wanted grades to more accurately represent what the students learn, and we wanted to increase expectations in our kids so they achieve the most success they can,” Horstman said. “And we want to prepare them for life after high school, college or whatever work place they enter.”

A student with a current A could slip to an A-. Horstman said some students are concerned. He said the committee believes those students will strive to do even better under the new system.

“Higher expectations equal better results,” he said.

Lima Senior used to have valedictorians but stopped many years ago. In addition to honoring the top two in a graduating class, the school will add “graduates of distinction.” They will include the top 10 percent of the class, and their diplomas will include the designation.

A formula will be used to determine the top students. It will include grade-point average, along with credits, ACT scores and honor classes. The honor class portion will be phased in, beginning with the class of 2016. In the past, only grade-point average was considered.

“We want to encourage people to take harder classes and reward students who take those harder classes,” Horstman said. “An A in a college English class is worth more toward graduating than an A in a regular English class.”

Horstman added that just using a grade-point average makes it difficult for a student who didn’t do very well his or her freshman year to contend to be at the top of the class.

“We want to encourage all students to continue to work hard for that,” he said.

Students should know where they stand in their class rankings early next school year.

Board member Saul Allen Jr. questioned why the ACT needs to be included. He believes it should not play a part because it is an optional test. Allen suggested it be used as a tie breaker only. He voted against the proposal because of it.

Superintendent Jill Ackerman said the committee felt strongly ACT score is a piece that distinguishes students from the general population.

Eligibility also was a question when the board first saw the proposal on adding pluses and minuses. Ackerman said staff looked at current athletes to see how the change affected eligibility.

“They are just going to have to work hard,” she said. “We need to keep the rigor and set the bar high. We need to not just settle for average; we need to push for excellence.”

Lima Senior HIgh School