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Chico class of ’18 must pass exams to attend graduation

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, August 9, 2014

Freshman entering Chico High School in a few weeks will have a new set of rules regarding grade point average and graduation procedures.

Perhaps the biggest change is to the graduation ceremony itself.

In the past, students who passed all of their required courses at Chico High School could participate in the graduation ceremony even if they had not yet passed their state end-of-course exams. They simply received a certificate of completion rather than a diploma.

That will no longer be the case beginning with the class of 2018.

Superintendent Mike Jones told the school board last week that the testing requirements are getting tougher, and so, too, should Chico’s graduation procedure. Students must now pass the state exams in order to participate in the ceremony.

“We think kids will work harder if they’ve got some incentive to work harder,” he said. “We’re afraid this kind of sends the wrong message that if I don’t pass, I’m still going to get to go to the ceremony and walk.”

He added that it is not really fair to the students who have completed all of their requirements and earned the right to graduate and receive a diploma.

Jones said the high school will do everything it can to help students meet those requirements. For instance, students who are failing or have tardies will be required to stay at the end of the day for one-on-one instruction while others who are passing will be allowed to leave.

Another change that will affect graduation and post-graduation is an adjustment in the way the high school calculates grade point averages. In the past, grades have been calculated on a numeric basis such as 90 or 100, but beginning with the freshman class, grades will be calculated on a 4-point scale.

“The colleges are used to seeing kids from big schools show up with 4.6 and 4.5 GPAs,” Jones explained. “Our kids are showing up with a 98 or something like that. It doesn’t quite do the same for them. So we think it puts our kids in a better light when they are applying to universities.”

The district is also changing the way it calculates grade point averages to incorporate the changes required by House Bill 5.

Beginning with this year’s freshmen, all students will be required to complete a foundation plan, and then students can choose an endorsement to help them choose the rest of their courses. The law is aimed at helping prepare students not just for college, but also for careers.

Grade point averages will be based on courses taken for the foundation plan, and honors courses will continue to be weighted more (on a 5-point scale) than regular classes to encourage participation in those courses.

The graduation and grade point average changes will not affect incoming sophomores, juniors or seniors.

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