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Wellesley High School ponders changing how GPA is calculated

Posted by Evan Allen  April 30, 2012 04:10 PM

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Wellesley High School students may someday see a change in how their grade point average is calculated.

The high school is considering switching from a weighted GPA system – where GPA is adjusted based on the difficulty of classes – to an unweighted system, where an A in an honors class is worth the same as an A in a lower level class.

It's a proposal that has been talked about for a while at Wellesley High School, said School Committee Chair Suzy Littlefield. The School Committee has not yet talked about it, she said, but she said she would like to hear a presentation on it.

"There's strong support on either side," she said. "It's a very interesting topic."

The High School’s GPA Committee sent out an email to Wellesley High parents with information about the proposed change and a survey asking for input.

According to information provided by the GPA Committee, the high school currently uses a 5.0 scale that gives students who earn A’s in honors-level classes higher point values than students who earn A’s in lower level classes.

Less than 20 percent of Wellesley High School students take all honors classes, according to the Committee.

GPA is used at the high school to determine who the valedictorian is and on applications for the National Honor Society. It is also used in some scholarship applications and when students apply to college.

“Students who meet the expectation of a course should have a GPA that reflects the grade that they earned,” according to the Committee’s website. “Under our core value of academic excellence, we believe that all students should take the courses that provide the appropriate balance of challenge and interest and that their course selection should not be driven by GPA.”

Committee members polled college representatives and found that most colleges simply recalculate student GPAs to match their own scales. About 90 percent of the representatives said they would either prefer an unweighted scale, or that they didn’t care either way.

Students who do take high level classes will still be recognized, according to the Committee, because their transcripts will reflect the rigor of their courses.

If Wellesley High School decides to move to the unweighted model, the first students to be affected would be the class of 2016.

The Committee will be evaluating feedback on May 8. Surveys are due May 7.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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