FBISD approves new GPA-exempt courses

The new policy will impact a number of courses, including many extra-curricular activities
December 20, 2013 2:56:50 PM PST
Fort Bend Independent School District is making a change to the way some students' grade averages are figured, by introducing GPA-exempt courses for upperclassmen.

Fort Bend ISD has announced that in order to encourage continued student participation in areas of special talents and interests, juniors and seniors will be allowed to participate in third and fourth years of certain courses that will be exempt from counting in grade point averages (GPA). This new policy begins with the 2013-2014 freshman class.

"We have worked collaboratively to develop this new option," said Dr. Christie Whitbeck, Deputy Superintendent. "We believe it will allow high academic achieving students the option to remain involved in their extra-curricular programs without being penalized on their grade point average. We are focused on providing avenues for our students to remain well-rounded and exposed to the arts and athletics. This will begin with the graduating class of 2017."

Courses that will offer GPA-exempt classes include: advanced journalism, agriculture (FFA), athletics (excluding PE), band, cheerleading, choir, color guard, debate, dance team, oral interpretation, orchestra and theatre.

A brochure on GPA-exempt courses for 2014-2015 can be found on the Curriculum Department webpage. More information will be shared during the upcoming course selection process. Students and parents are encouraged to speak with their counselor about their specific course selections.

The following letter was sent to parents of students in Fort Bend ISD:

Fort Bend ISD to offer new GPA-exempt courses
Dear Parents

As we break for the holidays, we want to make you aware of new grade point averages (GPA)-exempt courses that will begin with our 2013-2014 freshman class. We believe this decision is the best one for our students and have worked collaboratively to develop this new option. Much consideration and discussion was given to make sure we offered the new GPA-exempt courses at the most equitable time and at the appropriate grade-level. Many students and parents requested this change, and we are pleased to make the announcement prior to course selection in early 2014.

This change affects our 2013-2014 freshman class, and they are not eligible to take advantage of the new GPA-exempt courses until their junior and senior year. We just want them to have the information now prior to course selection.

Why the change now?

Fort Bend ISD encourages all students to pursue their areas of special talents and interests in order to enrich their academic achievement. To foster continued student participation in these classes, juniors and seniors will be allowed to participate in third and fourth years of certain courses that will be exempted from their GPA, should they elect to do so. Any student wishing for those courses to count toward their grade point average will simply not apply for the exemption. We feel this is a win-win for all students.

This new policy begins with the freshman class of 2013-14. Many older students are asking why this cannot apply to them. Please trust that lengthy discussions occurred regarding current sophomores, juniors and seniors and whether or not they should be included. Our committee looked closely at numerous scenarios and determined that it would be unfair to some students within a graduating cohort to "change the game" midstream. Therefore, the soonest we can begin in order to keep all students on an even playing field with regard to their course decisions, is the current freshman class. We realize that this is disappointing to older students, but we must consider all aspects when developing a new policy, and to include them now would simply not be fair. We believe the new GPA-exempt courses will allow high academic achieving students the option to remain involved in their extra-curricular programs without being penalized on their grade point average. We are focused on providing avenues for our students to remain well-rounded and exposed to the arts and athletics. This will begin with the graduating class of 2017.

Courses that will offer GPA-exempt classes include: advanced journalism, agriculture (FFA), athletics (excluding PE), band, cheerleading, choir, color guard, debate, dance team, oral interpretation, orchestra and theatre.

How do I learn more about the GPA-exempt courses?

  • Visit the FBISD website at fortbendisd.com, and read a brochure on GPA-exempt courses beginning in the 2014-2015 school year that will affect the 2013-2014 freshman class. The brochure can be found on the Curriculum Department webpage, and it has answers to many of the questions you may ask. Read the brochure.
  • More information will be shared during the upcoming course selection process where parents and students can get answers to their specific questions.
  • In January and February, students and parents are encouraged to speak with their counselor about their specific course selections.
  • Thank you for the privilege to work with your daughter or son. Enjoy the holiday break with your family and friends!

    Dr. Christie Whitbeck
    FBISD Deputy Superintendent

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