Students at Henley Middle School wearing orange to support an anti-bullying campaign for Unity Day

After a recommendation from staff to stop reporting class ranks to colleges, and a lengthy discussion, the Albemarle County School Board is still wrestling with the potential impact of the policy change.

Specifically, the Board expressed concern over how the division calculates GPA—and thus rankings—and wondered if students should determine, on a case-by-case basis, if their rank is reported.

Some parents called for a reporting stoppage to be made effective immediately, and whether or not the new policy will be implemented will be determined at the November business meeting.

“In the past two decades, class rank has become less important in college admissions,” said Albemarle County Assistant Superintendent Billy Haun. According to the 13 admissions officers he interviewed, he said, academic rigor is the most important factor.

Board Member Eric Strucko questioned how the division calculates a student’s GPA, which determines his or her class rank.

“I want to make sure that the rank is what we feel it should be,” Strucko said, noting that the current weighting system makes it possible for students taking fewer honors and AP courses to post higher GPAs than students taking more challenging course loads. 

Superintendent Pam Moran said she was open to studying the division’s methodology, but that there is no perfect system. Moran also noted that the changes Albemarle made to its grading and weighting policies in 2006 was a time-consuming process, and the Board shouldn’t make a hasty decision.

Board Member Jason Buyaki questioned how weighting courses is relevant if some students are going to build careers from electives.

“If you’re going to go into a musical program as a course of college studies, shouldn’t they have the same weight as perhaps a chemistry course or a physics course?” Buyaki said. “That’s what the person’s future is going to be built on.”

Buyaki also questioned why reporting was an either-or conversation, and proposed giving individual students the choice.

“If we can set up a system where we can allow kids to [report] rank or not and put that information out to whoever they’re applying to…I think it’s a win-win,” Buyaki said. “It fulfills the needs of the entire community and folks can go back to the colleges that they’re applying to and see if rank really matters to them or not.”

While the Board is now revisiting its policy, Board Chair Steve Koleszar said preparing students for college should still be the primary focus.

“To a certain extent I think that this is a distraction from what helps students be successful in college and getting into college, which is doing the work,” Koleszar said. “If it gets focused on the system and how to game the system then you’re distracted from the real game of what good, quality learning is.”

Read the full story here

Albemarle to stream business meetings

Albemarle County residents are now able to attend school board meetings from their living rooms. As of October 10, the Albemarle County School Board has begun live streaming audio of its business meetings, which occur at 6:30 pm on the second Thursday of each month in Lane Auditorium at the McIntire Road office building.

“As a board, we place a high value on public involvement in our decision-making process,” School Board Chairman Steve Koleszar said. “It’s our hope that by adding real-time audio capabilities to our community outreach, more people will have the opportunity to learn about their school division and increase their engagement with the education of our children.”

A link to each meeting’s live audio, as well as an archive organized by topic, is available from the division’s homepage. Listeners can find agendas at by the end of the day the Friday before the meeting.

Additionally, the School Board holds work sessions on the fourth Thursday of each month, save for November and December.