Academic Policy Dilemma

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Academic Policy Dilemma
By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 04:25 pm: Edit

My District set policy two years ago that only allowed certain classes to be added to the transcript, while others taken were not added.

Say for example, if I took Philosophy 21: Argumentation, it would be thrown out of my transcript because it is not a permitted class under District guidelines.

I took History 1 and History 11: two classes that are NOT applicable under this new guideline. Policy dictated that the courses would be crossed off the transcript if they were mistakenly added(as in actually going to my transcript and crossing it off, Lord knows that would have looked bad), save for the fact that the new rule came into effect after I took the classes.

This comes at a time when Western Civilization and other courses are thrown out of the transcript, whereas classes such as Math Basics are not. They will throw out Java programming, but leave in remedial Creative Writing? (a notorious 'fluff class' that can be taken at other institutions)?

There definitely is no method to this madness. What can I do? (These guidelines continuously change, and now I am stuck at a point where I am taking 2 classes, that I cannot drop, that will not be added to my high school transcript).

The policy states that the district will do all it can to foster academic growth at local community colleges, if the courses of interest are not available at the high school level. Yet, they implement guidelines to remove certain courses off the list. I see this as a hypocritical "about face" from what they truly mean.

What do you think? Should I appeal this with the District Board of Education? Or should I just let it be?

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 05:33 pm: Edit

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that courses you take at a local college will not be put on the transcript unless they meet certain criteria.

We had the same problem - an IVY science course was NOT put on the transcript! The best compromise we could get was to have it put under an extra section at the bottom of the transcript for "awards!" But then it was not figured into the grade point average!

You need to do SOMETHING. I would appeal, or at the VERY least, see if they'll do what we did. If not, then when you apply to colleges, just send in the transcripts from the colleges you attended along with the high school transcript.

By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 05:43 pm: Edit

Voronwe -- yes, that is exactly what I am trying to say! Academic classes are being thrown out on the double but fluff classes aren't? It's insane!

My high school (like the entire LAUSD) does not send out transcripts. We merely send out cumulative records (which include, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, along with high school), and stamp official transcript on it.

They refuse to put it on the cumulative record.

Beats me. There's no appeal at the school level, they'll just tell me it's district policy.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 05:57 pm: Edit


I was under the impression that in CA students are able to earn dual credit for courses in hs and college. Perhaps other posters from CA can chime in on this issue?

If your district proves intractable, make sure to get a transcript from the college where you took your courses and append the transcript to your application.

By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 06:04 pm: Edit

Marite: I have five words for you.

Los Angeles Unified School District.

We can earn dual credit for courses in HS and college.. just certain courses won't apply.. (like the 90 some odd courses that the District *DOESN'T* have transferability for)

All I want is the course title on my transcript. No credits awarded officially, no nothing, just making sure that they know I took the thing and got the grade. They can't do that, thanks to policy. I'm fuming mad because of it, but I can't do anything about it.

Once a transcript from a CC is opened, it is no longer valid unless the destination school has it. And theoretically, if I need to send a transcript to every school, it costs me a huge amount of money ($8 per school!) .. Concerning the number of schools I am applying to.. it will cost me a ridiculous amount of money for something that my HS can easily annotate.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 06:26 pm: Edit

My sons had their college transcripts sent separately and then emailed adcoms to be sure they were received. If that is too expensive a proposition for you (to which I am very sympathetic!) my advice would be to make copies of your own personal copy and send them with your application and an explanation. Offer to provide *offical* copies if necessary. Try your very best not to criticize your hs in your explanation. They deserve it! but it won't look nice. MHO

By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 06:29 pm: Edit

I don't blame my high school, and in some way, I don't blame my district. There must be some reason they did it, but it is still very frustrating.

I qualify for fee waivers, so therefore I will be using them to the fullest when applying to colleges. But.. college transcripts don't have fee waivers, therefore it will become a very bad burden on me.


By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 07:59 pm: Edit

In our district, accepting all CC courses became an issue when someone qualified to be Val, based on a fluff course at CC. Having a list of acceptable courses would actually be a good idea, as long as one could argue for a course prior to taking it.
My S was penalized because he took 5 courses at CC, first semester jr. year. They said he should have only taken 3 CC courses, so refused to count ANY of them. Sounds confusing, very arbitrary. He didn't know the rules, we certainly could have appealed, but took a different route.
Emptynester has a good point--make copies and submit. The school that you decide to attend may ask you for official transcript and syllabus from CC (that's what my S needs to do).

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 10:37 pm: Edit

Bookworm has an excellent point. Besides the transcript from the cc, you should make a copy of the catalog description of each course you take. Ideally, also include a syllabus with reading list so that the colleges will be in a better position to evaluate the courses you have taken (we're doing that for our S).

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 09:34 pm: Edit

Additiional note:
I mentioned before how I thought school was arbitrary with my S. Well, turns out they have a new policy based on him. Now, before any student can take CC course, required parent/counselor meeting. The course is reviewed, if credit will be given, reviewed, etc. Parents must sign a form prior to student being allowed to enroll. Wow, my S changed 4 rules in the county! Lots of kids will benefit from his tough experiences. (1--made him take a test to see if he could skip pre-calc and go into AP Calc (had to be appealed to county Superintendant), 2-take all math at CC from 10th grade on, as well as Latin, econ,; 3-make him take eng IV over summer, but not know enough that they had to send in forms, so he could only start 8 days ago, in order to graduate after junior year). WOW; pretty good for a quiet, undemanding kid

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:02 pm: Edit


Nice to see that you are coping with Frances!
For taking Harvard Extension School classes, all that is required in order to take it and qualify for a scholarship is to argue that a similar class is not offered at the high school. Nonetheless, one can still take a class as long as the family pays for it. This arrangement relieves the school from offering more APs than it does.

My S is profiting from policies put in place because of two other students who graduated early. These were published only last year. Hurray for pioneers. They make life easier for those who come after them.

By Momof2inca (Momof2inca) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:12 pm: Edit

Are the college courses UC/CSU transferable? If so, you have a real case against your district and should go to the board and fight for them to be included on your transcript. My son (we are north of LA) has taken 9 classes at community college so far and the only one not to count was French I, but only because he took it in 8th grade and they have a policy against giving credit for course work done in middle school. -- Mom of 2 in CA

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:23 pm: Edit

Thanks marite;
I've got some damage; maybe $4-6000, but won't put in claim. Finally got power and phone tonight. Will be nice to sleep. It was so muggy, with shutters on, no a/c. Our street so covered with branches, trees, leaves, you couldn't tell it was there. I made it to hospital this AM, just to get a cup of coffee! Tomorrow I'll eat real food, not dry cereal, crackers, tuna. joy.
Reminded me of the snowstorm in Boston in 1976--cabin fever.

My S is the least likely kid to be a pioneer. He's more a follower. I think others, like his GC and teachers, more upset they punished him by taking away his #1 standing. His friends' parents complain that not enough APs offered to seniors, being pushed to go to CC, which necessitates car, and thinking about early graduation for their younger siblings. what a change

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:23 pm: Edit

Bookworm and Marite, I think it is great when either parents or students advocate for change in specific situations, because not only do they help themselves achieve appropriate accommodations but it goes without saying that their needs are not unique and others will follow who will benefit from the policy changes.

We have seen that first hand here. My kids doing Algebra as indep. study in 7th grade (which is a year ahead of what is normal acceleration) and then doing it again in 8th with Geometry, broke ground at our middle/high school and we told them with our first daughter that we did not think she was unique in this academic need and in fact, just in our own family, we had another kid like this and indeed, she not only followed in this same breakthrough path at our school, a few kids in my younger D's class did as well (I have had parents thank us). Same with in French. Took a lot of advocating but our kids came from an elem school with a strong French program and the first D was bored out of her mind in French 1 in seventh grade alongside kids with no French background. Took a lot of advocating but by the time second child went, they had her and a couple kids go into the 8th grade for French for similar needs. Then my youngest took some HS courses while in middle school (oh, all the "it can't be done" talk we had to hear), which seems like not a big deal to arrange given that the middle and high school are at ONE facility! Well, I now know of kids who have followed in my younger one's footsteps in this regard.

My older daughter, as a student senator, initiated and led a policy initiative on an issue she felt strongly establish a Weighted GPA policy at our school. She did this at first with two other senators and formed a committee. They did so much research and met with roadblocks but she perserved for two years on her work on this and wrote a policy herself (second year she was on her own with it) that eventually was presented to the faculty and then to the school board who adopted her policy for students starting in the class of '06. She feels a great deal of satisfaction that although she personally did not benefit from her policy, that other kids like her down the line would. She then spent her last year in high school initiating and developing and writing a policy to establish a homework policy. She presented to the school board and it has yet to be formally adopted but again, she hopes kids who follow will benefit. She even plans to stay in touch with the school board now that she is in college to see her policy through, if need be, after all she put into it.

I really think that both parents and students who advocate for change or to have individual learning needs met, really have an impact on those who follow. I have always maintained that my kids were not a special case and that anything we asked for at school was something I hoped that other kids in their situation would also get if needed.

You guys should feel good that any accommodations made for your kids or changes in policy, have benefitted those who follow them in school. I hope all parents and kids do the same to help those down the line. I think change IS possible and you just have to advocate for it.

I recently had a mother of a graduating sixth grader call me up. I admit that I know her but we are not friends or anything. But her D's fifth/sixth grade teacher suggested she call us because she has a gifted daughter similar to my girls, or particularly my D who had the same fifth/sixth grade teacher, and the teacher knew that we had to go into the middle school (gr. 7/8, not NEARLY as good as our great elem school) to advocate to have her learning needs met. And so this mom called me to ask all about the program or accommodations that my girls both had had at that middle school so she could go in and ask for the same as we set a precendent in some areas. It felt nice to think another kid would benefit from what we were able to accomplish at the middle school. And I had always told the middle school that there were others like these kids and it was not all about my children, which obviously is the case now.


By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:00 pm: Edit

I am always impressed hearing about your dtr at Brown. She's so pro-active.
I take no credit for the changes. My S's middle school math teacher (S had him 2 years, got very close, for years would go help him score tests and tutor); anyway, he let my S work at his own pace. Then, in HS, my S got scolded for reading the test book rather than paying ATT. He was embarrassed. The next day, teacher asked him how much he knew of the text, gave him a quiz, and said she wanted him to speak to head of math dept. about skipping 'up'. The math head couldn't get approval at local level, so took issue to school superintendant. Then, they had to prepare a formal test before trying the 'experiment'. I was impressed that these teachers were willing to put so much effort to help one quiet student.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:34 pm: Edit


I'm surprised your district is so bureaucratic. In my S's case, he was advanced with the blessings of his teachers who warned us when curricula were going to be unchallenging and worked to rearrange his schedule so that he could go to the high school to take AP-Physics. The AP-Physics teacher let him attend his class, with the proviso that he would drop down to Honors Physics if he could not keep up. The principals of both school okayed the arrangement. We encountered only willingness to help. Re-arranging schedules was not an easy task but all the teachers were more than willing to do so. We did not have to involve the superintendent or the school board.
In a nearby town, a high school teacher was deputed to go to the elementary school to teach honors algebra to a 5th grader. That had to be arranged through the district, not because of needing permission but in order to faciliate things. No wonder public education looks so different from where I am!

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:41 pm: Edit

We had similar "interesting times". When my d. turned 13, she wanted to take pre-med/pre-engineering chemistry at the local community college. (she had never done any high school sciences at all, but her math skills were really topnotch, and she had already scored an 800 on the verbal part of the SAT, making her one of 7 in the nation.) In Washington State, we have the Running Start program where the state pays the tuition for gifted "11th and 12th graders" -- well, we homeschool, and if asked her "grade", my d. would usually say "triple A prime". Anyhow, the community college was fine with, but the guidance counselor at the high school went nuts! "What if everyone wants to do the same thing?" to which my wife replied, "Wouldn't that be wonderful!"

The Asst Principal stepped in and said, well, if my d. passed the placement exams at the community college, they'd take it from there. He was hoping, of course, that she'd flunk 'em, and that would be the end of that. So off my d. went to community college, and took the tests. The only problem was she came back having passed into the second year. The guidance counselor was still outraged! Finally, they made a deal. D. was to meet with the principal and the head of the English department and have a discussion. D. was game. They discuseed Tolstoy, and Ibsen, and Strindberg, and some such. They moved my d.'s file out from under the guidance counselor, and we never heard boo from them again.

The thing is - the school actually made money by having my d. enroll in the community college, money they wouldn't have had otherwise, as we are homeschoolers.

But the sad part of this is, I expect, no one else benefitted in the least. I think they just wanted her to go away, and for the whole matter to be hushed up.

Leon Botstein has proven conclusively, through Bard in NYC, that "bright" - not particularly "gifted" but "bright" 15 and 16 year olds, coming from inner city schools can do just fine with college curricula offered at full intensity, and can then transfer into some of the nation's leading institutions. I've written elsewhere why this is considered "worrisome". (and some of these very same students, headed off to Harvard, Brown, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley, and Bard couldn't pass some of those ridiculous standardized tests mandated under All Children Left Behind.)

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:58 pm: Edit

Many times I've said 'count your blessings". My school is into rules, but better than local private schools, which want bright, not special needs kids. No one there got a 5 on math AP exam, for example. Some very bright kids emerging from S's school, and gaining admittance into top colleges. I never heard of REI (?)before reading CC, but we have a state program for math/science that accepts 36 kids for 6 weeks summer program. Anyway, I'm sure there will be a ripple effect from my S's early admission

By Ilcapo (Ilcapo) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 12:19 am: Edit

Hey guys I have a quick question...

I got a B+ in Intermediate Italian I at Stony Brook, its not currently on my transcript, but if I appeal to have it placed on and factored into my GPA, how would a B+ be considered on a 0-100 scale (considering we get 10 points for college level classes)

By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit

Momof2inca: Yes, all the courses not allowed on the transcript are UC:CSU transferable.

And speaking of all of this policy setting, I too had policy set at our school. Memorandums were distributed to homeroom teachers last week warning students of what classes were NOT transferable to the high school transcript. That way, a student wouldn't end up taking Chemistry 51 and find out that they wouldn't be receiving credit.

By Any1can (Any1can) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 07:56 am: Edit

Our district will only add a CC course to transcripts if it is course that is not offered at our school (ex. math higher than Calc A/B) or if a desired a-g course has a time conflict (ex. French 3 conflicted with our one class of AP Euro). Our AP classes are limited so there is a lot of conflict. CC course has to be approved by hs. Problem is, by the time hs students have been able to register at CC, courses are usually full and trying to find time at night to take a course isn't always easy.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 11:19 am: Edit

What is the big deal here? So the college courses are not on your HS transcript? You can still list them, and provide a transcript from the CC, no? If you're concerned about cost, you should find out if the colleges you're applying to will accept informal proof, copies of transcripts etc., at least in an application file.

Another option would be to have your GC letter cover the courses.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

I am with Massdad. None of the schools where my kids went and we are talking about many schools, private prep, catholic, and public would put any grade on their transcripts if they were not taken at the school or in an approved summer school program. Forget cc or local college courses. My son needed an additional year of foreign language to graduate from his highschool, 3 years of the same language was the requirement, and he moved there after his sophomore year with 2 years of a language that the new school did not offer. So he took the language elsewhere, took a third year proficiency test and had the requirement waived as a result but it did not go onto the transcript. I had to get an attachment to the transcript showing the course, the test and grades. He also had the transcript from his first highschool with his freshman and sophomore grades as an attachment to his main transcript. S2 has taken some courses and is taking a course this year at a local college and none of these will show up on his transcript either. They will be attachments which if I have directly sent to his highschool will be attached to his official school transcript.

And S2 will let his counselor know to please mention the courses in her rec to the colleges in the cover letter that he sends to him with his resume, so that the counselor will have all of this info at his fingertips.

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