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Graduating Norwalk teens protest ‘sudden’ shifts in GPA rankings

From left, Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) seniors Aasim Vhora, Ryan Stelly and Tanyia Bynum talk to the Board of Education on Tuesday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. — Grade Point Averages have created controversy at Norwalk High School as the Norwalk Early College Academy, a subset of NHS, graduates its first class.

“Up until two months ago I was valedictorian of my graduating class,” Norwalk High School senior Katerina Karaiskos said Tuesday to the Board of Education. “Why the sudden change? I lost my slot because of the currently proposed method of calculating the NECA students into the traditional ranking system pool. This inequitable shift promotes an unfair learning environment that derails the futures of the overwhelming majority of the NHS student body.”

NECA was a focus of the BoE meeting, with leaders touting the achievements of the school’s first graduating class, including 12 students who will simultaneously receive Norwalk High School diplomas and Norwalk Community College Associate’s Degrees.

NECA 18-051520180516

NECA is Connecticut’s first P-TECH school. Students take both high school classes and NCC classes, at no charge, and are mentored by IBM employees.

The NECA student who moved up to be valedictorian, Ryan Stelly, “simply happens to be an incredible student with incredible work capacity and intellect, who just worked and worked and worked, and got an A is every college class he took,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said.

Both NECA students and NHS students made valid arguments as they spoke to the Board, Adamowski and others said.

Everyone had the opportunity to enroll in NECC, Erin Aymerich said, explaining that as a freshman NECC student four years ago she took double math and double English and an online history course, then in her sophomore year took eight classes instead of 10, with a college level class during the summer.

The grading process for the college class, comparable to an Advanced Placement class, was not the same as the NHS classes, she said, explaining that to achieve her Associate’s degree, she gave up sports this year as she took four NCC classes. The courses were recently weighted but when she applied to colleges they were not, affecting her ranking and her college prospects.

The comments made by NHS students are “hurtful, malicious and belittling,” Daniel De Menezes said, also describing a heavy workload as NECA students were “finishing essentially a full year’s worth of work in a semester.”

“We have been told by Norwalk High students that we don’t deserve the privilege of being part of their ranking system,” De Menezes said. “This belief has stemmed from the idea that NECA students have an unfair advantage due to the multitude of college classes that we have registered for.”

Anyone could sign up for NECA, but while there was room for 100 students the sophomore, junior and senior classes have less than 70 students, he said, going on to explain that the district decided that NECA couldn’t have its own mascot because the schools could not be separated and concluding, “If we don’t have the right to a mascot we shouldn’t have our own ranking.”

Chaz Bethel-Brescia, a NHS senior, said he’d been checking his transcripts routinely and had been ranked second, but in mid-March dropped to third.

Because this happened “before any full year courses completed,” it “indicates that a weight of course or courses previously not counted had been made,” he said. “To make such a change midway through a graduating class’s final year without any notification… is frankly quite concerning.”

Even if the high school students take a college class, it won’t affect their ranking, and the NHS students can only take up to eight credits a year while the NECA students can take 12, he said.

“The recognition that these students receive comes with their associate’s degree that they are earning, but for additional AP-level weight to be put on top of that puts traditional track Norwalk High School students at a disadvantage when both groups of students are placed in the same pool. It is most equitable that both pools be evaluated separately,” Bethel-Brescia said.

Adamowski said, “There are other college courses besides the NCC classes at both high schools and traditionally they have been weighted the same way as an AP or an IB (International Baccalaureate) class. This issue of taking a whole semester or one term is not accurate because they are all controlled by seat hours. So, you can take the same number of seat hours in one semester as you can in a year if you were taking a high school course.”

The dual credit or college classes are the issue, and the Board could study it through its Policy Committee, he said.

“You can either make a change in calculation or you can limit the number of college courses that can be part of the GPA,” he said.

While a NECA student is at the top of the rankings, the next seven or eight people on the list are NHS students, he said, predicting a similar issue next year at Brien McMahon High School when the first IB diplomate students graduate.

There are 40 diplomate students, who took all 13 IB classes, which are the equivalent of AP classes, he said, speculating that next year’s BMHS valedictorian could be an IB student.

BoE Chairman Mike Barbis said he understood the students’ frustrations because everyone wants to be valedictorian, but at the same time, they’ve already been accepted into college.

The rankings change every semester, Adamowski said, and NECA Principal Karen Amaker noted that the leading students could have been bumped by an NHS student.

Stelly was the only one who bumped because of one semenster, she said,

“Given the exact same program, everyone had the same advantage,” Amaker said. “However, because of his academic promise, because of his perseverance, because of his intellect and ability, this is now an issue. Had this been, in my opinion and with all due respect, if this had been a Norwalk High School student bumping another Norwalk High School student we would not be having this conversation.”

Teachers have signed a petition about the GPA rankings, she said, and, “I am concerned for my NECA students that they will be unfairly graded as a result of some of the sentiment that is now pervasive in Norwalk High School.”

Barbis said he’d been surprised by the the virulence and the tone of some of the emails he’d received on the topic.

“Fairness is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t think it’s going to be easy to come up with something that’s going to be acceptable to both sides,” he said.

Heidi Keyes said she wasn’t sure what could be done one month before graduation, and Julie Corbett commented that student rankings are only one piece of data that colleges look at.

“I think we absolutely need to… look at making the formulas more equitable and at least more fair to really validate the level of effort and the level of academic excellence of all students and all options that are presented to students,” Corbett said. “I think we also need to make sure that students are aware of the realities and the future implications, or not implications, of high school rankings.”

36 comments

Concerned May 16, 2018 at 8:14 am

Unfortunately these graduating seniors now have a taste of what us parents have been dealing with for years, Norwalk makes these snap decisions and rolls them out without any thought or planning with little to no communication to the public.

There is no reason this couldn’t be rolled out next year and give students (and parents) fair notice.

Unsurprisingly this comment shows just how disconnected our leaders are
“BoE Chairman Mike Barbis said he understood the students’ frustrations because everyone wants to be valedictorian, but at the same time, they’ve already been accepted into college.”

He is clearly missing the point as usual. He obviously isn’t in tune with the hardwork and dedication these students put into their year.

I hope the BOE does the right thing and reconsiders. This was a sneaky and underhanded move and just remember, these are our future residents. Do you think they will want their children to go to the same schools that screwed them over?

Patrick O'Shaughnessy May 16, 2018 at 9:27 am

When one cannot refute an argument using a logical rationale, a common tactic is to resort to emotional appeal and ad hominem attack. Such is the case in the contention over the unfair, and illegitimately implemented grading/ranking newly deployed at Norwalk High School.

In The Hour’s article:
“NECA Director Karen Amaker said she was disappointed by how “divisive” the conversation has been and was shocked to find out that even teachers, with NECA students in their classes, have signed the petition.”

Why would a professional educator be ‘shocked’ to learn that, as a teacher, I would speak out about inequity and bias towards my students. The fact that I have several outstanding NECA students among all those I’m here to serve, is irrelevant to the point. If it were they who were being wronged, I would stand and fight for them. Her tone and use of words like “divisive” and “disappointment” connote wrongdoing by those who would act out of conscience. The facts speak for themselves.

Traditional track Norwalk High students are structurally excluded from ever holding the very top slots in class rank by design. While they can only, at most, attain 8 credits per year, NECA/NCC students can acquire 12 or more. When you also add in that every course from NECA/NCC receives a bonus point in the GPA calculation, a Traditional track NHS student has no mathematical possibility of competing. Semester length courses at NECA/NCC receive the same weight and credit on the transcript as full year Traditional track AP classes. Traditional track students cannot earn similar credit should they opt to take college classes on their own. Courses completed at UCONN, Yale, or even alongside a NECA student at NCC would not apear on their high school transcripts.

Director Amaker also laments a “divisive” conversation. Perhaps that’s because there has never been any “conversation’ at all. The community was totally excluded from any role in this policy change. No student, parent, faculty, or taxpayer input was either sought or given. The timing and manner of implementation is done “after the fact.” No advance notice of the amendment to calculation process was published in the Guide to Subject Offerings or Student Handbook. Issuing arbitrary edicts that harm the majority is a sure route to “divisiveness.”

Further, Ms. Amaker claims NECA to be an integral part of Norwalk High School, “…NECA students are Norwalk students.” Yet, this very issue points out a bold inequity that negates her assertion. Additionally, NECA has a separate administrative structure, including her directorship, guidance counselor, teaching staff, office, budgeting, scheduling, academic calendar, and now grading system. NECA and Central Office Administrations claim Norwalk High School membership or independent autonomy as it suits their advantage. Make no mistake, the public relations success of NECA is enmeshed in both political and professional ambition. Student equity must not be sacrificed to such things.

Finally, the associates degree earned by NECA grads is its own reward. Skewing high school transcripts by the current formula is wrong. One should never unfairly rise by stepping on others.

Kathleen May 16, 2018 at 10:30 am

Why on Earth would this huge decision be made so late and without consultation with students and parents?

April May 16, 2018 at 10:50 am

Exactly, Kathleen. This seems highly suspect given the timing. One cannot A. set rules of a game without informing the players *before* the start of the game and stating them clearly so that all understand them and B. change the rules of the game mid-play.

This seems unfair, unethical, and morally damaging to current students (who I would imagine will not ultimately look favorably on their time at NHS), rising students (what is motivating me to work as hard?), prospective families attending NHS (my student can only rise so far if they aren’t in NECA…WHICH, people seem to be underplaying, is a program designed for students interested in computer/technology career field. This is not simply “another option”) and parents (what new things are going to “happen” that we aren’t privy to until it’s too late?).

Tony P May 16, 2018 at 11:03 am

@Kathleen, you mean like everything else that goes on in this district? Not sure why anyone is surprised. Fire, Ready, Aim!

Milly May 16, 2018 at 11:03 am

How can being the Valedictorian have an input on college application if you do not know who the valedictorian is until the end of senior year? Haven’t these students already been accepted to colleges?

When I graduated NHS there were 3 valedictorians – one of the girls was in my chemistry class and she never came to school on the day of a test so she was always taking it after the fact – alone in a room – so much of what goes on in deciding who is “1” is debatable.

Jeff May 16, 2018 at 11:52 am

Is this in fact a ‘sudden’ shift in the methodology, or is this the methodology that has been in place all along and the complaint is with the ‘sudden’ shift in their personal rankings? Hard to tell from this article.

Kathleen May 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Tony P: I really do want an answer.

“BoE Chairman Mike Barbis said he understood the students’ frustrations because everyone wants to be valedictorian, but at the same time, they’ve already been accepted into college.” What a thoughtless comment. The frustration is about unfairness in not letting students know that their hard work to achieve an academic goal was no longer going to be honored by the district.

I have no horse in this race…just cannot stand “adults” who have power over students cannot be honest and forthcoming with them.

Mike Barbis May 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Kathleen, what are you trying to say? I love how the public attacks elected officials … its so easy, but do you volunteer for free 40+ hours a week??? I bet you don’t. And how is that a thoughtless comment?

This issue has come to light as a result of the first graduating NECA class — which is this year. Its obvious the NHS administration had not thought this through completely and there is nothing in the Student Handbook that refers to this … the #1 ranked student is from NECA but #2 through #9 are from NHS …

Mike Barbis May 16, 2018 at 1:31 pm

And Kathleen, how am I not honest and forthcoming? I nor the Board created this policy. We had nothing to do with this. I have no skin in this game either … I’ve never and do not currently have a child at NHS or NECA

Theresa May 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

I know the 3 NHS/NECA students currently in the “new” top 3. There is no debate about how smart, intelligent, hard-working, driven or disciplined they are. They are friends and were thrown into this by the adults that have made this last minute decision — adults they should be able to trust. For those people in power to make this type of change at their own discretion is, to say the least, rude. And although they have been accepted into their colleges, most colleges require the final transcript to be sent before the end of June — which could end up affecting scholarships and/or grants. My son had been accepted into NECA and we decided against it for other outside reasons, but the program is a good one. It has had alot to iron out, but seems to be gaining its footing. That being said, we were never told at the time that the NECA/NCC courses would count towards GPA and class ranking, or in some cases end up in double-credits towards these calculations. As the students mentioned last night, if a regular NHS student takes a UCONN or NCC course, it does not count towards their GPA nor does it get listed on their transcript — it’s written in the handbook! The students need to deal with their colleges separately about getting those credits accepted by their chosen college — so why should NECA’s college courses count towards high school? Those courses are not required for a high school diploma. They need to only count in the required and eligible NHS courses used to determine validity for their high school diploma. I wonder if these students realize that their grades/GPA from their AS degree will not be counted towards their GPA for their BS degree? In that thought, they shouldn’t be counted towards their high school GPA or class ranking either.

Chris May 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Mr Barbis,

I do not know why you feel the need to go on the offensive. Kathleen was right that was a thoughtless comment. And your defensive response seems to imply that you know it.

These students are upset because this decision was made in March 2018, not September 2014. Your comments that this is only about who if valedictorian is missing the point. Membership in the National honor society is based on rank in class. Many universities, including the US service academies, use rank in class as a measure for admissions. Scholarships such as the Kevin Edit and the Roberta B Willis scholarship use rank in class as a requirement. You are telling one fifth of the students in each class they will be at a disadvantage from the start, with no ability to make up the ground. Norwalk students should be measured on a level playing field. It shouldn’t be decided by a lottery or if your parents have enough money to send you to private school.

This is bad for both Norwalk High School and the NECA program. Students are going to start enrolling in NECA that don’t care about the technology education and only the GPA boost that it provides. Some of these students will have no intention of going into technology fields. Defeating the very purpose of the NECA program itself, to provide technology workers to Fairfield County.

Also you point out that there is no mention of the extra weighting in the Norwalk High student handbook. So you realize that this change blindsided everyone and that what the administration at Norwalk High did, changed the weighting program in March, may not even be allowed. So how do you not realize that this is unfair to the regular Norwalk high students. If the program are vastly different as the NECA students are arguing why not have two different ranking systems?

Kathleen May 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm

@Barbis, what I’m saying is very clear. If you need to hear more, please see Chris’ comment. And, you are correct that it is obvious that the administration hadn’t thought this through clearly.

Donna Smirniotopoulos May 16, 2018 at 2:56 pm

I have no horse in this race. However I’ve been a volunteer since 1991. We’ve got to let go of the idea that volunteerism is sacrosanct, especially in the public sector among elected and mayorally appointed officials. We don’t care how many hours you put in a week for free. You’re still accountable. You still have to withstand public scrutiny. Those are the rules. The work of volunteers should be subject to public critique. When criticized, public servants need to comport themselves with poise and with respect for the critics whom they serve. A mentality in which volunteers are above reproach because they work for free hurts the city.

Concerned May 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Mr. Barbis,

Can you please explain to me the reasoning behind making this decision at the end of the school year instead of at the beginning of the school year? It would be one thing if this had been implemented with the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, with advance notice (hey, a person can dream, can’t they?), but to make this decision at the end of the year makes no logical sense.

Brenda Wilcox Williams May 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

I’d like to clarify one point: the shift in class rankings was not a mid-year policy change. Rankings were re-calculated after grades from the second marking period became available. Grades earned in first semester NCC classes were included at that time as well. Class ranks are re-calculated again when end-of-year grades are finalized, and it is not unprecedented to see a last minute shift, even at that point, within the top ranks of our most talented students.

I hope adults in the community will take their cues from the students who expressed themselves last night on both sides of this topic. They were articulate, thoughtful, thorough, respectful and mature. We’re proud to have all of these very accomplished young adults as soon-to-be graduates of Norwalk High School.

Phyllis May 16, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Dear Members of the Board of Education,
Whether or not you have children in Norwalk High School is irrelevant to the issue before you. You were elected to represent the interest of all Norwalk public school children. It is not really complicated… a decision to change the weight of college courses AND include them in the high school transcript was made without your knowledge and council. You need to correct this. If the NECA students’ high school transcript reflects 4.5 without the college classes there will be no issue! Their Associates degree and IBM employment advantages will not be harmed in any way… AND the merit scholarships based on class rank for the traditional track students will more accurately be reflected. YOU HAVE GOT TO ACT!

Nancy Chapman May 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm

It appears that the website is holding all comments in moderation today. I want to clarify that I did not set it to do that, this is a random act of mysterious coding interactions. The website has a glitch that sometimes sends comments to the trash, or keeps people in moderation. This is the first time it’s held everyone up.

Bob Welsh May 16, 2018 at 8:50 pm

I admire the motivation and poise of the students who took their concerns to the school board. There is much that is good in Norwalk schools.

Rick May 16, 2018 at 9:51 pm

@ concerned

Norwalk makes these snap decisions and rolls them out without any thought or planning with little to no communication to the public.

Taxpayers are experiencing this every day.

These young adults are leaving the city with a lesson, sadly this comment goes deeper than our school system and right to city hall.

If this is a problem lets think about the same group building schools and working with charter schools while some cities are closing charter schools.

Stratford last week closes the Magnet programs and saves a million .

One Bridgeport and two New Haven charter schools have been denied an additional $627,000 in state money for 57 seats they filled without authorization.

These are adult lessons are they not?

Good luck to all the students sounds like the quality of education is there but this all seems bittersweet as we move to June for this to come up.

Too Hot of a Topic for a Name May 17, 2018 at 4:29 am

Follow the money; I’m guessing this has an impact on what is happening. Community colleges in CT are feeling the squeeze. They have to get creative to get $$. Likewise for NCC, and for Norwalk Public Schools.

There is no free lunch, there are no free classes. They may be free to the students, but some entity must be paying. I’m no expert on this subject, but researching where the money comes from may help enlighten this discussion. Further, does shifting the cost of these students going to NCC via NEAC shift cost of educating these students off of the NPS budget? That clearly would be of benefit to NPS.

NEAC sounds like a great opportunity for many students, but it sounds as if the ranking/weighting system and its impact was not thought out well. That, or “the system” is trying to buy/entice more students to enroll, perhaps not anticipating the backlash?

One easy way out: create a separate student ranking. Would that really be so terrible? What would the cost of two valedictorians be?? Recognize the separate, different strengths and reward both. Tweak the system a little and make a reasonable and sensible accommodation, rather than trying to force change down the throat while pretending that everything is fine! And remember to support & value “traditional” schools and students!

Here’s an article about money & community colleges like NCC getting creative to try to survive.

https://westfaironline.com/101932/facing-cuts-colleges-look-for-new-revenues/

Concerned May 17, 2018 at 8:58 am

Brenda Wilcox Williams
May 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

I’d like to clarify one point: the shift in class rankings was not a mid-year policy change. Rankings were re-calculated after grades from the second marking period became available

You are missing the point. When was this communicated to students and parents? At the beginning of the school year? And the second marking period represents the middle of the school year, does it not? There are four marking periods, this happened at the end of the second, therefore making it the middle of the school year?

I don’t see any adults being insulting. Norwalk screwed up again. However, you can fix this and make it right.

Also May 17, 2018 at 12:15 pm

@Mikebarbis

” but do you volunteer for free 40+ hours a week??? ”

You signed up for that.

james gallacher May 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm

i found the student handbook on line from 2010-2013.
https://www.norwalkps.org/workspaces/one.aspx?objectid=309651&contextId=309519

grading and rank is spelled out clearly. just as you would expect a student who is taking AP classes to outrank a traditional track student you should also expect someone who is, quite frankly, taking a brutal course load to outrank someone who is potentially taking half as many AP classes. Each AP course gets 1 extra point. The college courses are concentrated into one semester instead of a full year (same amount of work in half the time) and therefore get the full AP credit of 1 point. this is fair.

It’s simple logic.

The student who now occupies the top slot in the rankings is an Eagle Scout, is headed to Engineering school at Lehigh, and finished a 6 year program in 4 years . oh, and he managed to be in the Orchestra, start the robotics club, and volunteer.

He’s an exceptional student (by any metric).

FYI
(in the previous century when i was in school we only received .5 points for AP and only if our final grade was a B+ or better – getting an extra point for a class you’re getting a C in is ridiculous. it was common practice to apply the bonus mid-year for seniors for their transcripts).

A valid concern May 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

@ James, I believe the kids concerns are this. Non NECA kids are mathematically removed from the competition which is class rank. The way the NECA classes happen provides those kids with an advantage. IMO, this is unfair. Good for the students for speaking up and advocating for themselves.
I think its like apples and oranges comparing the NHS and NECA kids.

Somewhere along the way, I think the Hour article mentions BMHS’s IB program. Anyone know how the grading schema works there? I’m wondering if the same ‘apples and oranges’ situation exists there. If so, the BMHS kids have a very valid beef too!

Lastly, kids typically use their Junior year class rank as a metric when applying to colleges. Kids are not just worried about being top 10 in their class, they worry about the entire spectrum – and not just at graduation time!

This stuff matters!

Patrick O'Sahughnessy May 17, 2018 at 4:54 pm

The personal qualities of the student from NECA now occupying the “top slot in the rankings” are certainly not in question. It took a lot of dedication and drive to attain that level of performance. No one impugns his achievement. However, he is in a Tech track and headed to an Engineering school.

Traditional track NHS students headed into Art, Music, Law, or Finance have no possibility of competing at the highest levels with this young man. The NECA/NCC curricula excludes them totally. The track is intended specifically for future tech pursuits. Even if they attended NCC, and sat next to the future engineer, in the same course, at the same time, and got the same grade, their scores would NOT be included in their high school transcripts for GPA and Class Rank calculation. Where is the equity in that?

Because the methodology is structurally biased against the Traditional track, Arts & Humanities in particular, an unintended consequence will be to penalize the strong Music and Communications programs at Norwalk High. Proven excellence by many students in those areas could be curtailed by the lack of opportunity to acquire credits or bonus points the NECA/NCC students in a technical track now have. Yet, they too work exceptionally hard, put in extra hours and effort and attain excellent results, as evidenced by numerous awards, championships, and national awards. The current system cannot remain as is and be called fair.

As a remedy for this June, the BOE should designate co-Valedictorians. The Salutatorian slot would remain unchanged. Then, with the time pressure for graduation relieved, the entire policy should be reconsidered, discussed, and revised for future classes.

ConcernedToo May 17, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Please just read Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s comments before mine. The best teacher at NHS explained this so well that I have little to add, but I’m going to try anyway.

The relevant fact is this:

Under the current policy at NHS, it is absolutely impossible for a non-NECA student to get a higher class rank than a NECA student if both students get straight As. NECA is a tech track and it’s a great program, but it does not make any fundamental sense that it is impossible for a student interested in English or other subjects should be effectively penalized through lower class rank.

There should just be separate rankings for the NECA program. This problem is going to get worse as the program grows. In 5 years we could end up in a situation where we have a student with near perfect grades and SATs taking the hardest possible traditional track programs, with colleges wondering why that student’s class rank is 10 (please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this will impact the class ranks as students apply to colleges as well because NECA students take a number of college courses before senior year).

While this might seem like a minor thing, the difference between a class rank of 1 and 10 could be the difference between getting into a super competitive Ivy League school and not. And I don’t see how a NECA student is really hurt if they’re listed as #1 in a class of 50 coming out of a well respected program instead #1 in a class of 400 where 350 of the kids were involved in a different academic program.

Possibly the greatest thing about Norwalk Schools is that we serve such a diverse population and we can substantively prove that our students have the opportunity to attend the best colleges in the country. The fact that NHS sends a few students to Ivies every year is critical to its reputation, and it’s something that keeps parents who might move to other districts in the area. This policy shift has serious potential to damage that.

The perfect future is one where we have two programs – the traditional track and NECA – sending students to the best schools in the country. It seems we’re well on our way to that, but we don’t need to be preferencing one over the other.

April May 17, 2018 at 7:24 pm

@James Gallacher. The handbook you referenced would not have NECA information in it for comparison or explanation because NECA did not exist at the school 2010-2013. The first class just started in 2014.

Aly May 17, 2018 at 8:24 pm

Both sides have some valid points, but I think the NHS students sorta do have a stronger case. NECA, at its inception (and for the first year of its existence) was set up to function, for all intents and purposes, as a “school within a school”. It was envisioned to grow into a distinct, and separate school from its parent, NHS. There was at least one teacher during NECA’s first year (who is no longer with the program or district) who tried to get a more fair weighting system implemented back then. There was transparency in NECA back then. But in the time since the program has been reduced to whispered scramblings admist toxic pressure. It’s all pomp and circumstance. They know how to polish up and show off the best and brightest. They roll out the red carpet of information only when it suits their needs. NECA lost the teachers who worked first and foremost for the students. And with them went the transparency, and any hope of resolving issues like this one surrounding class ranks, before crunch time. Secrets and lies are no way to run a school. Or a school district. And the problems stem from the top. As they always do.

Mary May 18, 2018 at 9:06 am

I would like to commend all the students at NHS for their outstanding work and advocacy on this issue. The current practice will have a direct impact on future students at NHS.

Please correct if I am wrong but an explanation of how the NCC credits and grades (as related to the NECA program) are not included or detailed in the Program of Studies that are approved by the Board of Education each year. On the other hand, the IB credits and grades are clearly defined in the Program of Studies. Contrary to Mr. Barbis’ exertion, this is a Board of Education issue.

In addition, NHS (and therefore the administrators at NHS) does not have a say into how the GPA/ranking is calculated and is directed by the criteria that is given to them by the Board of Education and the superintendent. It is unfair to say, that it is anyone’s fault at NHS that the rules of the game have changed. The issue of grading and class ranking should have been highlighted and discussed in 2013 when the program began NOT in the final hours of the graduating year.

I would be interested to hear from Dr. Adamowski as to how it was determined that the NCC credits/grades would be included in the class GPA/rankings. Did he have discussions with the Commissioner of Education, other schools with the P-TECH program, Board of Education members, etc? I understand the NECA program was established prior to his arrival but he is the one who has decided on the current path being taken.

A valid concern May 18, 2018 at 11:51 am

@ Mary, can you share where you find the IB program of studies? I’ve been searching and cannot find! Many are trying to determine if the IB program is similar in affect to the NECA program.

Thanks!

Mary May 18, 2018 at 12:27 pm

I see the IB program in the proposed 2018-19 program of studies.

Go to the Norwalk public school website, then Board of Education, then Meetings, select 2017-2018 and choose May 2018. You will see it under the May 15 meeting.

Hope that helps and is not too confusing.

Mary May 18, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Just to be clear – the NECA students, if they achieve their associates degree within the 4 year time frame (grade 9-12), would have more than 2x the amount of credits required than a traditional track NHS student. This is where the inequity comes into play and the traditional track NHS students can not compete (even if they take every AP course offered to them).

I am not sure how many credits are required for the IB program but if it is to the same degree as NECA, BMHS will be faced with the same situation that NHS has today.

The truth May 21, 2018 at 9:09 am

Like someone said “Follow the money”
Who pays for NECA? IBM.
Was IBM not happy with their students rank in class? Did they say they might lower their funding?
Are they grade goals involved with the funding? Did politicians who want to defund public school and have visited the NECA program push for higher grades?
Are people career’s based on NECA’s success? Did these people have a say or even decide on this change?

The answer is “We don’t know” because everything was done in secret.
We do know that people, including our board of ed chairman, are down right upset that citizen are even asking these questions.
Sun is the best disinfectant, we need a lot of light shined on this process.

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