The Tempe Union High School District is changing the way it gives credit for math classes taken in middle school in the hopes of being more equitable to incoming freshmen.

Previously, only freshmen who took algebra or honors geometry classes at the Kyrene or Tempe elementary school district middle schools would receive credit for those classes going into Tempe high schools, which include the Ahwatukee Foothills’ Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools, said Derek Hoffland, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the high school district.

Now, students coming from any district or school will receive high school credit for those courses, Hoffland said.

TUHSD had an agreement from its two feeder districts to accept advanced math credits toward high school graduation that dated back to at least 2004, which is why those credits were accepted, Hoffland said. But now, with four math credits required for graduation, they wanted to make sure every student received full credit for classes they’ve completed.

“If a student comes in from Kentucky and had high school algebra on their transcript, we could give them credit now,” Hoffland said.

But there is one change in the way the credit transfer works for Kyrene and Tempe elementary students: While the grade they earned for geometry used to be included in their high school grade point average, now they’ll only get the credit.

Students’ grade point averages will be calculated based only on grades and the number of classes they take in high school, Hoffland said.

That decision was made simply to make sure GPAs are equitable. Every freshman entering a Tempe high school will start will a clean slate, Hoffland said.

“We can’t possibly always know the quality, how some schools are more difficult graders and some schools are not. We wanted to be fair,” Hoffland said. “We wanted to make sure the students are earning any credit they have truly earned, but we wanted to take away some of the subjectivity from grades that come from different places.”

The district hasn’t heard from many parents about the change, Hoffland said, although he did meet with Parent Network leader Sandy Lowe to discuss the change.

Lowe said her group hasn’t heard from many parents about the credit change, either.

There are valid reasons for the change, and likely some legitimate concerns, Lowe said. But either way, Lowe is confident Hoffland and his team will evaluate the change after it’s in place and revisit it if necessary.

“They’re very thoughtful, and they really will contemplate not only feedback and input, but they will evaluate how this is working,” Lowe said.

Kyrene and Tempe elementary students who are entering as freshmen this year will still get credit and grades for geometry, but future classes will only get credit, Hoffland said. Entering freshmen from other districts and schools will receive credit for algebra and geometry this year.

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