Gilbert and Peoria School Districts have a similar standard. However, assistant superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis said this plan is “radically different” because the requirement will extend to all junior high and high school students, not just extracurricular participants. This means all students under a 2.0 will have to attend an intervention study program and sit out of competitive events if applicable.
“The board members feel strongly that expectations need to be increased,” said Bonnie Sneed, president of the SUSD governing board.
The school board finalized the 2.0 GPA stipulation at the June 19 board meeting. Fourlis had said it is important to make sure there are intervention programs built into the school day so students can improve their grades.
Arcadia High School already has such a program in place, Arcadia THRIVES. The program has been noted for its success by Fourlis.
“We’ve built time into the school day where students have a chance to get tutoring,” said Kevin Mooney, AHS assistant principal and athletic director. “There’s also a Saturday class available.”
Mooney said he’s seen success in the program. He added that the vast majority students are already intrinsically motivated and don’t need a requirement to motivate them to succeed.
However he “enthusiastically supports” the change if done in the right way.
“It has to be constructed in a way to ensure success,” Mooney said, “We have to be very thoughtful with this process.”
Arcadia football coach Jim Ellison has a similar mindset.
“I support what they’re trying to do, but we have to get enough people to help so we’re not setting students up for failure,” Ellison said.
Ellison said a 2.0 minimum would have had some additional impact on players sitting out last year. Ellison noted he requires grade checks every three weeks to prevent students from falling behind.
Arcadia basketball coach Luke Neibling expressed some concern about the 2.0 standard not being a widespread requirement, which could put Scottsdale schools at a competitive disadvantage. However, he said, “I do support high expectations and high performance from student athletes.”
Under the “no pass no play” program, a student-athlete sits out of competition if they have an F in any of their classes. The rule also requires grade checks every nine weeks.
The 2.0 requirements will consist of grade checks every four and half weeks. Since the Arizona Interscholastic Association stipulates no pass, no play, an F will still disqualify a student from competitive play.
“As long as everyone knows going in that this is what the expectations will be, and everyone is on the same page, then it will be fair,” Sneed said.