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WEIGHTING IS MULLED FOR HARD COURSES

West Seneca school officials will reconsider the district's policy of not giving greater weight to grades earned for Advanced Placement classes and other tougher-than-average courses.

Superintendent John F. Schleifer said he will ask that a team be set up to study the issue.

"It's probably time," he said.

The district, suburban Erie County's third-largest, decided about eight years ago not to treat the grades earned for AP and similar courses differently from regular course work in determining grade-point averages, he said.

But after a request for reconsideration from a top student from West Seneca East High School, the district is having second thoughts.

In a recent presentation to the board, Michael Modleski told the board that some students challenge themselves with difficult AP courses but that their grade-point averages do not reflect the extra effort.

A high grade in an AP course is treated the same as a high grade for a less difficult course, he said.

He cited a case at West Seneca East High School in which one student took three years of enriched English, a harder-than-usual course, plus AP history and AP physics during junior year.

A different student took only Regents-level courses during that period. The first student ended up with a GPA of 91.6 and ranked 35th in a class of 270. The student who took less demanding classes had a GPA of 95.3 and ranked 10th in the class.

Board President David G. Smaczniak said he thought that students who challenge themselves with tough courses should be rewarded with weighted grades, noting that many districts already do so, including Amherst, Cheektowaga Central, Clarence, Depew, Frontier, Hamburg, Iroquois, Ken-Ton, Lake Shore and Orchard Park.

He said that getting into colleges and universities is increasingly competitive and that weighting GPAs would be both fair to the students who take AP classes and an extra incentive for others to take such courses.

"We want to encourage our students to challenge themselves," Smaczniak said.

Between 10 percent and 12 percent of the district's high school students take AP courses. The average grade in those courses is about 90, Schleifer said. In regular courses, he said, the average grade is about 80.

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