WASHINGTON — Is having a top 10 list of graduates antiquated and educationally restrictive for students?
The School Board for Washington Community High School began discussion of that topic Tuesday and, on a related note, gave administrators the go-ahead to look into transforming a few courses in non-core subjects into honors classes.
"A large number of universities no longer ask for a high school student's class ranking," said Superintendent Kyle Freeman. "They want to know a student's grade-point average, scores on tests like the ACT and SAT, and sometimes the percentile ranking in a class."
That's one part of the top 10 discussion.
Freeman said the desire to make the top 10 list often affects how students choose courses.
"For example, many students (who want to be in the top 10) tell us they're interested in business, but they don't take business courses," he said. "Or, they're interested in band or art, but they don't take band or art courses."
If there is no top 10 list for the high school's graduating class, administrators and board members want students to continue to challenge themselves in honor classes.
So there will be discussions among administrators and faculty members about adding honors courses in non-core subjects to the list of honors courses already offered.
"The new honors courses would be capstone courses with high expectations," Freeman said. "They would be a quick fix while we're deciding we're for or against a top 10 list."
Board member Brad Butler said it will be important to obtain community input on the top 10 issue.
"And identify what it is we're trying to fix," he said.
In a general sense, said board member Brian Fischer, "we'll be looking at how we're educating our students."
Freeman said it will take months — perhaps as long as a year — to explore the top 10 issue, but decisions on new honors courses must be made by the board's December meeting.
Also Tuesday, the board agreed with Freeman's recommendation to interview representatives from three architectural firms at a special board meeting this month before it makes a decision on hiring a new firm.
The firms are Farnsworth Group in Peoria, BLDD in Decatur and Kenyon & Associates in Peoria.
Nine firms responded to the high school's request for qualifications. Five board members ranked Farnsworth in the top three and four board members ranked BLDD and Kenyon in the top three.
BLDD has been the high school's architect since 2008, when it was selected by the board for a major construction project. Kenyon was one of three finalists.
"We need to move on this quickly because we need an architect," Freeman said.
"Each of the firms that sent us information was highly qualified," said board President Jewel Ward.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.