Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools board gets first reads on litany of new policies


By Carl Blankenship

CHAPEL HILL — Policy changes on grading, class rankings, extracurricular activities and internet safety were on the agenda for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools Wednesday evening.

Here is an overview of what was discussed:

  • Instituting a grading floor of 50% on any assignment that carries a grade, as well as progress reports and report cards.
  • New guidelines for late work and reassessment.
  • Changing the valedictorian honor system to the Latin system typically used by colleges and universities, meaning students would graduate cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude depending on their grade point averages. Students will still be eligible for valedictorian status if they take a pass/fail course and all their other grades are As to “encourage more students to take courses that enrich their academic careers and promote lifelong learning without adversely influencing their GPA and class rank.” The new policy would phase out valedictorian status after this school year.
  • Suggested changes from the North Carolina School Board association refining language around participation requirements for high school sports, clubs and extracurricular activities.
  • A revised internet safety policy to remain in line with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which provides connectivity discounts to entities like schools and libraries. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recommends the new policies be adopted for districts to remain in compliance.

The CIPA requirement policy was the only piece of the meeting with a dedicated presentation. The policy includes implementing internet filters to block inappropriate content, guidelines for students and employees to report inappropriate sites and limit activities like hacking or “gaining unauthorized access and unlawful activity.”

Students will be required to be trained on expectations when using district technology, internet safety, appropriate behavior online and responding to cyberbullying.

The district has a litany of cybersecurity measures in place including firewalls, network monitoring and content filtering.

The move toward the Latin honor system follows other public school districts making the move because school staff believe the system is more equitable while still honoring academic achievement by students.

The district points to class rank impeding student mental health, wellness, college admissions, equity and “the pursuit of a well-rounded educational experience,” according to a memo on the new policy.

“For example, students highlighted their anxiety over not exploring their academic interests because the weight of courses may adversely impact their GPA and class rank.

The new policies may be adopted during the board’s next regular meeting on April 20 on the consent agenda, if no members pull the new policies off for further discussion.

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