UC system discontinues Chemistry Honors’ status as weighted class

Written by: Ben Atlas

For the 2013-14 school year, Chemistry Honors will be losing its status as a weighted class in the University of California (UC) weighted grade point average (GPA). It will contribute a 4.0 rather than a 5.0 to the UC school’s calculated GPA, but will retain its weighted standing in the high school GPA that is submitted to non-UC schools. The change is due to the enforcement of a UC policy that prohibits underclassmen from taking weighted classes.

According to Principal Katya Villalobos, Chemistry Honors slipped under the UC system’s radar because of a database change in which the class was not specified as available to sophomores. Palo Alto High School (Paly) applied for a similarly weighted class, correctly citing Gunn’s Chemistry Honors as precedent.  This caused  UC system representatives to realize their mistake and remove the weighted grade from Chemistry Honors. The change will only come into effect for those taking the class in years 2013-14 and later, and will not affect the weighted GPA for any earlier classes.

According to Chemistry Honors teacher Casey O’Connell, the change will not result in a significant alteration in the course’s difficulty. “I would say that Chem H will continue to be the challenging and rewarding course that is so fondly remembered by some students and haunted by others,” O’Connell said. O’Connell believes that the change will cause fewer students who are only interested in an increase in GPA to take Chemistry Honors, consequently cultivating a higher level of motivation in the classroom. “I view the removal of the weighted GPA as a really good, progressive move,” O’Connell said.

Although the lack of a weighted grade may cause some students to refrain from enrolling, measures will be taken to compensate for lack of participation. According to Instructional Supervisor Laurie Pennington, one of these new measurements includes lowering the course prerequisite standards needed in order to take Chemistry Honors. The requirement grade to take Chemistry Honors in Biology 1AC will be shifted from a B+ to a B.

According to Villalobos, the change should have been in order years ago, but was overlooked due to a bureaucratic error. “It’s been a long time coming that the system would catch up with us,” Pennington said.

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