District debating implementing weighted GPA system

As college admissions have become increasingly more competitive, students have had problems related to

balancing their GPA. Photo from Tribune Content Agency.

As college admissions have become increasingly more competitive, students have had problems related to balancing their GPA. Photo from Tribune Content Agency.

According to Director of Learning Services Christine DiPilato, BHHS district’s administration is considering implementing a weighted GPA scale for students in order to maximize academic and collegiate opportunities.

“Last year we had a task force on grading in the district,” said DiPilato, who has been a part of the district for eight years. “We spent a lot of time researching different schools in not only in Michigan but all around the country that have different kinds of credits.”

According to School Board member and parent Mark Bank, the district is concerned that students are disadvantaged for some scholarships with the current GPA scale.

“These things are real,” said Bank who explains that the district is considering using a scale where Honors, AP, and IB classes have a five point scale rather than four, as well as a scale where an A- is a 3.7 rather than a 4.0.  “I don’t know if it is going to be rolled out for next year or the year after, but it would be good for students to know about this and if they have an opinion, voice their opinion as soon as possible.”

 According to School Board President Ingrid Day, one reason for the conversation regarding weighing grades is because academic rigor is not always wholly reflected in the current GPA.

“We know there are school districts around us that do weight their grades depending on courses students take. So when we send in a GPA for our kids, it doesn’t always compare. If a higher-education institution does not dissect how grades compare, our kids are at a disadvantage,” she said.

According to DiPilato, in order to get rid of the disadvantages, the school district is considering using a similar system as the International Academy because they have “a weighted GPA. All of their IB Classes are weighted and they have a weighted scale,” she said. “When they print their transcripts they show a weighted GPA and a non-weighted GPA. So we have had conversations about adopting that process.”

In addition to possibly implementing  a weighted GPA,  Bank says  that another idea on the table is making changes within the current approach to letter grades themselves. Currently an A and an A- are equal; however, at some institutions an A is a 4.0 while an A- is a 3.7.

“One, when you get to the universities, that’s the way they do it, so you might as well learn to do it their way,” said Bank. “Let’s say you’re a person who gets an 89%  in a class. Is it fair to get a 3.0  the same way as someone who got an 81%  in the class, or should you get a 3.0?”

DiPilato and Bank explain that changing the way the district  evaluates grades and GPAs comes with advantages as well as disadvantages.

“From the positive perspective, I think that weighting grades or honors level courses gives kind of a sense of opportunity for students to take a risk without feeling like they are really taking a huge risk,” said DiPilato. “I think some students don’t take AP classes because they think they might get a B in the AP class but they know they could the A in the not AP class. So if you’re weighting grades for those classes, it would encourage those students who might not take the course otherwise.”

Bank agrees that weighing more rigorous classes an extra point has many advantages; however, he expresses concern for the current conversation regarding the percentages attached to letter grades themselves.

“I am one of the few board members who is not too excited about that one. I certainly understand the argument that if you get an 89% why should you get a 3.0, but on the other hand, if you get a 91%, why shouldn’t you get a 4.0?  Some students who keep getting 88% and 89% are gonna love it, but the students who get 91% and 92% are going to hate it,” he said.  

According to Day, no matter what the district will decide to do, the committee will keep the student’s best interests in mind.  

“We are trying to implement our mission statement for each one of our students. Everybody has a value, wherever that might be,” said Day.  “We owe it to our students to promote them the best way we know how.”