The 2019-20 school year is likely to bring significant changes for Penn Yan Academy students if the school district’s board of education agrees to policies for weighted grading and allowing students to take their assigned Chromebooks home.

Weighted Grades

Academy Principal David Pullen presented his proposal for weighted grading system for certain courses that are of advanced rigor, and require additional effort by the student, at the July 31 board meeting.

A points system will be applied to grades of some courses retroactively beginning with the incoming class of 2020, meaning the scores these seniors received as underclassmen will also be adjusted if the policy is adopted.

Five points will be added to the final course average for Honors, Project Lead the Way, Advanced Placement, and Gemini courses. A student’s final course average will not exceed 100, however.

Weighted grades will only be reflected in cumulative GPA calculations and class rank calculations reported on the student’s transcripts. They will not be reflected on quarterly grades, final course averages, report cards, or online. Class rank will be determined using the weighted grades.

Pullen says 21 of the 24 school districts in the region use weighted grades now. He says the system has been developed to encourage students to enroll in a challenging academic program and to recognize and reward students for undertaking the challenge of such courses.

Pullen’s presentation to the board of education July 31 was his second. The board will read the policy for review again Aug. 14 and if there are no changes, it will be offered for a vote on Sept. 4.

Chromebooks

Chris Wickham and Aaron Mumby outlined their proposal for the 1:1 Initiative which will allow academy students to keep control of their assigned Chromebook, taking it home if they choose. Mumby said the new plan will promote digital equity for students who may not have access to a computer at home.

An updated device agreement will outline expectations. The Chromebooks, which are the property of the school district, will have filtering capabilities and students will only be able to use their school district profile on the device.

The Chromebooks will be given to students the second day of school and the device will remain with the student through their entire tenure at the academy, but returned at the end of each school year for maintenance.

Pullen said the average cost of a Chromebook is $250 compared to the average cost of a text book at $180. “This will be their primary textbook,” he said, adding that he expects digital content to replace textbooks in the future.

Mumby said 78 percent of academy teachers and instructional staff have Google classroom accounts and the school has 458 Chromebooks for 434 students.