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Board likely moving to GPA credit for all music classes PDF Print E-mail

By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican

After requests from the high school’s two music teachers, Chase County Schools might begin giving credit for successive years of the same music classes, unlike the practice now.
On the discussion table since spring, the school board at its Sept. 14 meeting directed the administration to move in that direction and report back in October concerning when to make the change.
It will be on the October’s agenda as an action item.
Music teachers Randy Hayes and Agnes Strand have been before the board the past year, requesting credits be given for all years students take choir, show choir, band and jazz band.
Now, students get graduation credits for every year they take those classes, but only receive the credit toward their grade point average (GPA) for one year.
The same is true for P.E. and body conditioning classes, in that only one year of GPA credit is now awarded. The student can take the class subsequent years, but do not get credit toward their GPA.
The board wanted some justification for giving more than a year’s GPA credit when the same music class is repeated each year.
Supt. Matt Fisher summarized the board’s concern.
“The board wants reasons for why one class is different than another level of the same course,” he said.    
Paul Ekberg may have summarized the concern later in the meeting in a separate presentation when he asked, “Would you allow a student to take physical science in 9th grade and get an A, and allow them to take physical science again in the sophomore, junior and senior years and also get A’s?”
In response to the board’s questions, both Hayes and Strand presented material that showed the varying degrees of learning they expect from their students as they repeat choir and band, as examples.
“My expectations on performance increase with each level of the (instrumental music) class,” Strand said.
Hayes distributed six pages of fundamentals he expects students to learn in his choir classes.
And, both said they grade according to how those students master the expectations each year, and their day-to-day work efforts matter in those grades.
“My expectations of students who are seniors versus freshmen, it’s a huge difference,” Hayes said.
Strand said not giving GPA credit for the same music class taken subsequent years says “it’s worthless.”
Bruce Vires, currently a math teacher but also a former principal, said GPA credit used to be given for all music classes no matter how many times the same class was taken.
But, some parents were concerned that their students who were taking four years of English, math, history and science weren’t in the top 10 percent of the class, while others who took more music and body conditioning classes were.
“So, as a compromise, taking (additional) music classes would be counted toward graduation credits, but not for GPA,” he said, and the same was done with P.E. and body conditioning.
Vires asked, “Is there a difference between band one through four and choir one through four than just your expectations and performance?”
Both teachers said their students are expected to know more the subsequent year than the one before.
Board President Charley Colton said getting the handouts from the teachers helped him, and was a “big step to justify giving credit.”
Strand said she’d like to see the board give credit for those classes starting with this first semester of the school year.
The administrators were directed to come up with some recommendations for the next meeting.