Final fall semester grades to determine class rank, GPA for Pflugerville ISD high school students

The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees on April 16 held its first meeting over livestream.
The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees on April 16 held its first meeting over livestream.

The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees on April 16 held its first meeting over livestream.

High school students across Pflugerville ISD will receive their class rank and grade-point average based on final semester grades from the district’s 2019-20 fall semester.

The decision comes after a long discussion and final vote by the PfISD board of trustees April 17.

Academic honors such as valedictorian, salutatorian and top 10% are determined by class rank, according to district documents.

As a result, the calculation of the GPA and class rank for the PfISD classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023 will not include grades from the 2020 spring semester.

However, PfISD Communications Officer Tamra Spence said students will still receive a numeric grade on their work from the last grading period when school was physically in session, which ended in mid-March.

District officials said April 16 that providing numeric grades protects NCAA eligibility for district students. A pass or fail determination would automatically default to a C grade for PfISD students applying for NCAA eligibility, Spence said.

Brandy Baker, the chief academic and information officer for PfISD, further told trustees on April 16 that Austin Community College told the school district that college credit would not be given for classes with a pass or fail determination.

“Pass and fail determination has the potential to harm students,” Baker said. “Who will it privilege? Who will it harm? We tried to minimize harm throughout this whole process.”

PfISD students from pre-K to eighth grade will receive a passing or incomplete designation for their work in the fall semester following the vote.

District officials said they looked at other local districts to see how grading was being handled. According to district documents, Austin ISD, Hays ISD, Leander ISD and Georgetown ISD have all passed similar policies.

Round Rock ISD is the lone exception noted by the district. RRISD is grading its students using 75% of the fall semester grades and 25% of grades for the fourth six-week period, PfISD documents show.

Before taking a final vote on the updated policy, trustees held a long discussion on the proposal. Place 7 trustee Larry Bradley expressed his desire to see the district’s spring grades included in GPAs. Bradley was the lone "no" vote for the proposal.

Baker responded that campus principals and teachers expressed concern that adding spring grades to the final weighted grade would harm more students than it would benefit. The concern stemmed from the fact that students were not afforded the period to turn in assignments to raise grades.

PfISD’s spring break was originally scheduled to run March 16-20, the district’s academic calendar shows. However, on March 16 the school district announced campuses would remain closed following spring break for another week. Students never returned to campuses following spring break.

In an April 17 press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott announced all schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.

“Students were supposed to have grades in on March 12. Teachers weren’t supposed to submit until March 24. ... On [March] 23rd and 24th, that is when students could have said, ‘I forgot to turn this in,’” Baker said. “The biggest concern was there wasn’t that repair period to see what teachers can do with kids.”

Other district notes

Graduation not yet canceled

PfISD Superintendent Doug Killian told trustees April 16 the district still had its May 31 graduation date reserved with the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. That date had not been officially postponed, though the district reserved an additional contingency Aug. 4 graduation date at the Frank Erwin Center if needed.

District awards contract for security upgrades

Trustees voted April 16 to award a $4.89 million contract to the Barr Co., based out of Austin, to provide security upgrades across the district. Funds for the security upgrades come from the 2018 PfISD bond package.

David Vesling, executive director of facilities and support services for PfISD, said the contract includes security upgrades at 29 district facilities. Improvements include the installation of bollards, fencing upgrades and the installation of secure entries.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.