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Reflections of the GPA Committee Process

"The reason that conflict is so important is that a team cannot achieve commitment without it. People will not actively commit to a decision if they have not had the opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and understand the rationale behind it. Another way to say this is 'If people don't weigh in, they can't buy in.' "

-Patrick Lencioni
Author of The Advantage - Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (2012)

GPA Committee Discussion Over the course of three meetings, members of the GPA Committee were not hesitant to weigh in when sharing their views about the value of the Regents Examinations.  The conflict among team members, or constructive debate as I like to call it, led to results at the end of the process.

Last night at the Board of Education meeting, I summarized our work as a team. In the end, following energized discussion and three sets of data, my decision was to count the Regents or Final Exams as 12% of a student's Grade Point Average. The remaining 88% will be divided up equally at 22% for each of the four marking periods.

Before and during the entire process, I listened and read multiple viewpoints from community stakeholders on this topic. While many GPa Committee members were at opposite ends of the spectrum on this topic, the common thread they had was the passion for their rationale.  The decision I made was based on internal data among committee members: at our December 8 meeting, 11 of the 18 members determined that they desired a range of 12-20% for the Regents examination scores.  Further, 63% of the 1,366 respondents to a community survey indicated that 20% for the Regents examination as part of the GPA was either "High" or "Too High."

In addition, as Superintendent of Schools, my final decision was also based on two more viewpoints: my desire to continue to hold in place accountability for students throughout the school year as it pertains to the Regents examination counting toward a final grade point average; and properly preparing Clarkstown students for college where final examinations are included as part of students' grade point averages.

I am confident it is important to reflect on this exercise in multiple ways as opposed to simply determining whether one feels the final percentage is too low, too high, or just right.  Instead, my focus is on the essence of what an effective team does when working together.  The GPA Committee members weren't expected to agree with the opinions of other members of the team, but from my vantage point, they worked diligently to build respect and trust with each other while engaging in constructive debate in order for me to reach a decision.

Moving ahead, I look forward to engaging in more processes with community stakeholders about academic topics in the same respectful and energetic manner that was on display among members of the GPA Committee.

Superintendent Martin Cox

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