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Choice Foundation changes how grades are averaged to better reflect Common Core

Schools overseen by the The Choice Foundation have revised the way student grade-point averages are calculated, according to a report handed out during the charter organization’s monthly board meeting, Jan. 29.

Beginning last semester, Esperanza Charter School, Lafayette Academy Charter School and McDonogh 42 Elementary Charter School changed the way they value elective-course credits.

Electives such as physical education, art and music are now worth a third of a course credit, not a full credit.  That change makes student averages a more accurate reflection of their performance in core subjects and is better aligned with new Common Core standards, according to the handout.

The report said the changes better “reflect what teachers are teaching and what children are learning and able to do. This revised GPA calculation allows us to better identify students strengths and weaknesses to ensure we are providing students with the appropriate level of support to ensure long-term success.”

All other courses will be still be worth one credit, and the way letter grades are calculated won’t  be changed, according to the report.

During Wednesday’s meeting, school officials also introduced the board to Choice Foundation’s data-integration program, called SchoolRunner.

The foundation budgeted about $70,000 for the planning tool this year, which has sharply improved the grading process, according to Nancia Sterling, 7th- and 8th-grade division head.

The program keeps all student information in one place, including attendance, health reports, grades and other data.

“They like having all of the information on the students so they can provide proper support for their needs,” Sterling said.

Finally, Choice Foundation Board Chairman James Huger announced a new memorial scholarship for professional development, named in honor of former board member Renese LaBranche Jackson.

Full-time Choice Foundation teachers are eligible for the Renese LaBranche Jackson Faculty Scholarship for Professional Development, valued at up to $5,000, Huger said.

“The scholarship celebrates the life of our colleague, her sense of responsibility to her students and teachers, her respect for the teaching profession, and her continuous reach for excellence in instruction,” a release about the new scholarship said.

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