Faculty fails to approve raising GPA requirements for TAs


Devyn Inong

Teacher Assistant Tasks: Emmanuel Bernabe grades Spanish homework for Spanish II teacher Stephanie Calixto.

Sydney Jasper, Staff Writer

Bear Creek’s Teacher Assistant (TA) and Tutor policies – which are the most lenient of all four comprehensive high schools in the district – will remain the same for the 2019-20 school year after a school-wide faculty vote failed to garner the 75 percent participation among staff needed to override the current policy.

Led by Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) teacher Shan Swoverland, who teaches art and sculpture, the department sought to change the current policy due to concerns that the lower requirements lead students to take TA or Tutor classes to avoid taking more rigorous academic electives. Certain classes in the performing arts – such as theater, band and choir – have had trouble filling their elective spots.

Swoverland places some of the blame for the vote failure on the length of time it took for teachers to be able to vote on the policy change. He is also concerned with the number of TAs and tutors teachers are allowed to have and the impact it has on academic electives.
“I was disappointed that it took over a week and a half to get the vote out,” Swoverland said, saying the delay caused the issue to lose momentum. Another problem was that some teachers did not know how to access the voting site on Google. WASC Coordinator Justin Ehrenberg noted that several teachers asked him for assistance in locating the voting form.

The current policy allows students with only a 2.0 GPA to apply for TA positions; tutors or lab assistants are required to have a 3.0 GPA. The other district high schools –Lodi, Tokay and McNair – require a 3.0 for both TA and tutor positions. Teachers are allowed some combination of up to three TA’s/tutors/lab assistants.

Some students agree the TA requirements are too low.

“The GPA should be raised,” senior Jonathen Vang, who is a TA, said. “TA periods are more relaxing than academic electives and [students] should have to work for it.”

Junior Matthew Hancock, who is a TA for his Spanish teacher Juan Rangel, disagrees with raising the requirements. Hancock, who says his GPA is about 3.6, says part of his duties include grading homework, but he doesn’t believe a 3.0 GPA is necessary to perform his tasks.
“It’s not that hard of a job to do,” Hancock said, adding that he is provided answer keys to the homework, so he does not need a strong background in the subject matter to fulfill his tasks.

While students seek TA and tutor positions for a number of reasons, the number increases during the second semester when students try to drop out of academic electives they struggled in during the first semester, impacting class counts. Others just prefer a course that will help lighten their academic load.

“I became a tutor because it looks good on college [applications],” senior Wilbur Berrios said.

Senior Jordan Latimore dropped his AP Chemistry class to become a TA the second semester, but he says a higher GPA should be required.

“In order to become a TA you should be required to prove yourself with at least a GPA of 2.5,” Latimore said.
Swoverland said he is “disappointed” in the vote and the staff’s low participation rate. He hopes more students continue to take rigorous academic electives to make the most of their high school education.