Written by Deiana Hristov
Published in the April 17, 2015 issue
On March 11, parents and members of the administration met to discuss a proposal that would stop students from reporting their weighted Grade Point Average (GPA) to colleges.
This proposal, with a projected implementa- tion date of 2016, will prevent counselors from telling students what their weighted GPA is, resulting in students only being able to put their non-weighted GPA on the Common Application. According to Principal Dr. Denise Herrmann, this will have no overall effect on the college admission process. “We’ve checked in with some Ivy League schools and Stanford and they said that most highly selective schools completely ignore weighted grades because every high school in the United States weights them somewhat differently,” Herrmann said.
The plan was set forward originally to close the gap between the systems of Gunn and Palo Alto High School (Paly) and to make things straight- forward for the student body. “What we’ve been doing as an administration team is looking at whether there would be any potential harm if we stopped doing this, and the initial answer is no because Paly has just as high acceptance rates as we do and they have not had any weighted grades for five years now,” Herrmann said. Herrmann be- lieves that weighted GPAs do not accurately report a student’s academic success. “It’s almost like you sending false information to have students think that the way we Gunn High School are weighting grades is the same way Harvard or Stanford or the Naval Academy or University of California (UC) Berkeley or some of the others will weigh them,” she said. “For consistency between us and Paly, for making it simpler for students, we just report it one way.”
The administration is hoping that this will help in reducing academic pressure. “We’re look- ing to reduce the need for kids to say ‘Oh, I need to take as many Honors classes as possible so I can have the highest GPA possible’,” Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky said. Jacoubowsky believes that decreasing the need for students to take hard classes to increase their GPA will open up other opportunities outside of school. “If you’re spending all your time loading up on advanced academic classes, you’re not developing the other parts of your life that’ll make you who you are throughout your adult years and going forward,” he said. The administration is hoping that this plan will compel students to take only the honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes that they are truly interested in, instead of choosing ones solely for the purpose of increasing their GPAs.
However, the absence of a weighted GPA might put more pressure on students to get higher grades. “Weighted grades act as a cushion for students who are trying learn more about sub- jects they enjoy,” sophomore Viraj Ghosh said. “Kids are still going to take AP classes out of enjoyment for a subject, but without the safety net of a weighted grades, these students are going to be much more stressed to get an A in a very difficult class.”
The administration is hoping to release an official statement about the change sometime this spring.