Sherman Independent School District is adjusting how class rank will be determined in 2019-2020 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


In an effort to be fair and equitable to students, the district is shifting when the class ranks are determined prior to when students shifted to distance learning, a program that involves students taking online and packet-based instruction from home.


“We are just changing the time when we take the grade, when we take the final grade (for class ranking) and when we close out the grades for high school” said Susan Whitenack, SISD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.


The SISD Board of Trustees discussed these changes during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting. The items were included as a part of the meeting’s consent agenda, which represents routine or non-controversial items that are acted on in a single vote without individual discussion.


Under the previous policy, honors, including valedictorian and salutatorian are determined based on scores at the end of the sixth week of the fourth, nine-week period. Under the proposed changes, this would be shifted to the end of the third nine-week period.


This would mean that class rank would be determined based on scores as of March 6, just before spring break.


“It would normally be in May, but because of the instructional time issues ... we have moved for this year only for it to be in the third nine weeks.”


Whitenack said the changes are being made in an effort to be fair and equitable to all students, and is in line with what other districts are doing. With the change to distance learning, there are inequalities with regard to access along with changes in instruction and other changes.


These awards can play a part in scholarship availability and in some college’s admittance practices.


Whitenack noted that this could affect students who were on the cusp of being top ten or top ten percent, and could have achieved those awards with a strong spring performance.


“It could affect students that way,” she said. “We are hoping that it does not and we are going to do everything we can do to look at that. This is a way to make sure it is as equitable as possible considering the strange situation we are in due to instruction.”


With regard to graduation, Whitenack said administrators and teachers are working to assist students who may have been negatively impacted by the changes to distance learning. However, this is being done on an individual basis.


“It is only meant to help kids, it is not meant to hurt them,” Whitenack said.


Meanwhile, Denison is keeping with its traditional method of determining class rank and other awards. The district is determining the ranks based on scores at the end of the fifth six-week period, which ended this past week.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.