Saturday, June 11, 2011

1 in 4 Graduate With High Honors!! ???

We didn't hear a count of the graduates last night, but' let's just say it was between 450 and the number of seniors as of the 3rd Friday count: 484. In fact, let's just use that number.

Our rough tally:
● 62 graduated "with Honors"
● 109 graduated "with High Honors"
● 7 ---SEVEN!--- graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Let's be clear these are unofficial tallies, but likely within 2-3 for each. The seven (7) 4.0 students, however, is spot on.

1 in 4 graduates with High Honors
109 divided by 484 gives you 22.5%. Assuming that the 484 number is a tad high, (they didn't all graduate and the number ending the year is likely less than at the start due to mid-year graduation) that makes it about 25% or 1  out of every 4 kids.. What is High Honors? We're not certain for Sun Prairie, because the district website doesn't readily provide an answer. In mist schools, "Honors" represents graduation with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better, while High Honors represents a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or better.

It gets worse...At Least 35% graduate "With Honors"
More than 1/ out of every 3 kids graduate with a cumulative grade between B+ and A-???  Dr. Culver will tell you that the bell curve and statistics don't apply to GPAs.  We say, "Horse puckey!".  Of course they apply!  Now certainly there should be a slight skewing as we don't want to fail 10 or 20 kids each year.  But we've skewed it all the way to the right.

Only one of four conclusions can be made when 38% of kids are graduating with at least a B+.

  • Sun Prairie school district is comprised of genetically enhanced kids pre-disposed to significant academic prowess.  Maybe they are all descendants of Professor X?
  • Sun Prairie is comprised of pretty smart kids and our school district enriches them to achieve even higher academic greatness.
  • Sun Prairie's curriculum is not challenging our students.,  Getting an "A" is cake.
  • We have a grade inflation issue that continues to flourish.

Seriously...which is it?

SEVEN (1.5%) graduate with a Perfect 4.0...Help Us Understand!
Seven 4.0 students.  ONE state scholar.  ONE National Merit Scholarship winner. (Yikes...Middleton had TWO!) And they happen to be the same individual.  Help us to understand: How could we have SIX other kids that graduated with a perfect 4.0 and NONE of them receiving higher level distinction?

Do you really grasp what it takes to maintain a perfect 4.0 throughout 4 years of high school?  The class of 2011 required 23 credits to graduate.  The average course is 0.5 credits on a semester basis.  There are two quarters in a semester.  That comes to a minimum of 46 courses studied.  At two semesters per course, that's a minim of 92 course grades.  And EVERY ONE OF THEM a straight "A" (at least 93 out of 100).  That includes gym, electives, and even things like AP classes!  Can you imagine the number of individual grades (tests, quizzes, papers, assignments) that go into that quarter grade?  That means, on average, every single assignment received a score of 93 out of 100 points!!!
SP-EYE anecdote:  Our graduating class had about 400 kids in it and we had TWO perfect 4.0 students (0.5%).  And, as we knew them well, we know that both these ladies were brilliant.  Hell, their brains functioned as high level micro-processors.  But they were fun people as well.  They weren't into sports, but one was a majorette.  Both had huge success with foreign languages.   Both went on to ivy league to Harvard.  The Harvard grad went on to a very successful and lucrative career in banking as a multi-lingual interpreter.  It's possible, folks...but the probabilities are low.
Did you know that in a number of school districts, including Madison, AP classes are scored out of 5 points (instead of 4) to account for the additional difficulty of the AP courses and so as to not penalize the cumulative GPA of students who opt to challenge themselves.  Sun prairie doesn't do that and we STILL had seven students graduate with a perfect 4.0!

A Look Back In Time
A school board member shared the following information which was received from a community member, knowing grade inflation is one of SP-EYE's hot buttons. The contributor wasn't identified, but it doesn't matter. It's a great comparison from 20 years ago to today.  If these numbers are valid (and we have absolutely no reason to suspect they are not), they represent cause for alarm.

Class of 2011Class of 1991
Total Students
# on Honor Roll
187* (39%)
24 (8%)
        * This is reportedly the lowest in the past 7-8 years!
# new NHS members
80 (16%)
14 (4%)

Taking Away from the Kids?
Sure, that will be the district's rallying cry: "Look at that nasty SP-EYE blog, raining on one of the most important days in a kid's life!"  Our sincere apologies to each of the 171 kids (and their parents) that graduated with some level of Honors.  We honestly don't wish to take anything away from your accomplishments.  In fact, we're more concerned about you and your future than the school district.  We have countless anecdotal evidence of our kids being improperly prepared for the rigors of college.  Many that walked away from SPASD with "High Honors" felt secure in their knowledge and abilities, only to get a rude slap in the face at the college level.

Please...those of you that go onto college...DO NOT be lulled into a false sense of security regarding the prediction for college success based on your SPASD

In fact...we welcome e-mails from you--anonymous of course, unless you wish differently-- regarding your college GPA relative to your high school GPA.  We heard more than one speaker talk about "making your mark on the world".'s an opportunity to help effect needed change.