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Palo Alto school district to report weighted GPA for current seniors

Board breaks with recommendation from adminsitrators, teachers

After three hours of discussion and passionate pleas from more than 30 parents and high school students, the Palo Alto school board Tuesday decided in a 5 to 0 vote to report weighted grade-point averages (GPAs) for current seniors.

Both unweighted and weighted GPAs will be included on seniors' mid-year transcripts, which are sent to colleges and universities in January; the district will also provide the weighted average to any student who might need it before then. The board deferred longer term action on GPA-reporting practices until a later date.

Many of the parents and students who filled the standing-room-only meeting urged the reporting of weighted GPAs as a way to honor students' hard work in more rigorous classes and to help them secure both scholarships and college admission. This viewpoint was echoed in online petitions launched in the last week that have collectively gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

The board's student representatives from Palo Alto and Gunn high schools also cast their preferential votes in support of weighted GPAs. Gunn's Ankit Ranjan warned the board that to not consider students' opinions on this issue could further "erode the trust that students have with their district."

The board's decision rejected the recommendations of the superintendent, principals of both high schools and dozens of high school faculty and staff, who oppose reporting weighted GPAs for the threat they believe the practice poses to students' well-being.

Students and parents from both high schools argued that reporting weighted GPAs is a straightforward, administrative action unconnected to academic stress.

"This is not a conversation about stress. This is a conversation about reporting what my actions were in high school," said Paly senior Maya Katz, who brought the grade-reporting issue to the board several weeks ago after realizing her weighted GPA would qualify her for a $36,000 merit scholarship at the University of Oregon. "If you want to talk about stress, if you want to talk about rigor in different classes ... that's a completely different conversation."

Parents and students repeatedly described weighted grades as a motivating benefit, not a harmful deterrent. Paly parents felt their children had been put at a disadvantage — many of them unknowingly until several weeks ago, they said. While Gunn counselors report seniors' weighted GPA on the Common Application, Paly counselors do not. Neither school has been reporting the weighted average on official transcripts.

Most high schools in the area, with the exception of the Fremont Unified School District, report weighted grades, according to the district.

Parents and students urged the board to make a timely decision, many opposing Superintendent Max McGee's proposal to convene an advisory committee that would work for several months this school year to research and make a recommendation to him on reporting practices. McGee had recommended against reporting weighted grades this year and for creating this committee to take the time needed to find a solution to what he described as a complex problem.

School-board candidate Todd Collins suggested the board instead create a "focused fact-finding committee" with a much shorter timeline — one to two months — and a very specific charge. This would help the board to "face up to the issue, get the data, make the decision, implement and move on to the next thing," he said.

Consensus quickly emerged on the board about how to solve the problem in the short term, with majority support for adding weighted grades to current seniors' transcripts. Most board members also rejected the idea of putting together a committee, which they said could take away resources and attention from other important issues facing the district.

One of those issues has been wrapped into the weighted grades debate: achieving a goal of having more students of color and low-income students in Advanced Placement and honors courses (both of which provide students the extra points for a weighted GPA — that is, a 5.0 rather than a 4.0 for an A).

"Shame on us," said Trustee Melissa Baten Caswell, pointing to the low numbers of minority and low-income students in AP classes. "We should be doing whatever we can to make sure those kids have every opportunity. In order to do that, honestly, I believe we need to give them some reward for taking that extra step."

Sara Woodham, parent and chair of advocacy group Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS), said that reporting weighted grades would likely have a minimal effect on minority and low-income students.

"This tactic, I think, masks — not remediates — the core problem, which is this demographic needs support starting in elementary school to allow them to access an equitable range of APs beyond a small subsection of offerings," she said.

Board Vice President Terry Godfrey, her voice breaking as she held back tears, worried that the board had heard from the vocal majority of students and parents but not those who have told her they were unwilling to speak publicly in a packed room with people applauding aggressively for those in support of weighted grades.

"If you're a senior this year and you've made choices along the way to be with your family, to take care of your grandparents, to go fishing, to try your hand at woodworking, to try your hand at art and you get told today that weighted grades are going to go on transcripts against kids you're competing with at Paly and Gunn, you might have made different choices along the way," she said. "I just know that student voice is important from those who aren't brave enough to stand there but still count and still matter."

Godfrey asked if reporting weighted grades could disadvantage rather than benefit any current students. Paly Principal Kim Diorio said that there are more than 50 students — who are either minority, low-income or special-education students — who would actually have a lower grade point average if the weighted amount is reported. (This is because Paly uses the University of California/California State University weighting system, which doesn't count ninth-grade courses nor non-UC approved courses.)

The board also discussed the two high schools' weighting methodologies, which are different. While Paly uses the UC/CSU system, Gunn has tweaked that and has its own method for calculating the weighted average. Board member Ken Dauber suggested that both schools ultimately use the well-established UC/CSU model, which the two principals supported.

For this year, however, the board agreed that the schools would continue to use their current weighting systems.

Unlike at the previous board discussion on this topic two weeks ago, when several Paly administrators and staff spoke during public comment to voice their strong opposition to weighted grades, speakers on Tuesday night were exclusively parents and students in support of the practice.

But 68 tenured Paly teachers from a range of departments, from history to physical education, signed an open letter on Monday urging the board to "pause in your rush to make a decision" that they believe would do more harm than good.

The letter calls placing weighted GPA on transcripts a "critically misinformed choice" and an "anathema to the district and school's commitment to student well-being." The letter lists seven ways the practice could reverse progress the district has made in recent years to reduce academic stress and support student mental health, including "elevate AP culture at the expense of electives," "disadvantage students from families of limited means" and "confuse a limited scholarship application problem with an admissions application problem." The teachers especially opposed making the change in the middle of the college-application process this fall.

Though the letter was written "without coordination with — or direction from — Paly administration," it echoes a position paper Diorio and other staff members wrote two weeks ago, as well as a separate statement backed by all of Paly's guidance counselors and school psychologists.

On Wednesday, after the board meeting, Paly senior Joelle Dong launched another online petition, calling on the trustees to reconsider their "appalling" decision.

"This decision creates a culture of competition counter to the one our district claims they aim to create," Dong wrote. "We believed that the school board would protect our students rather than fuel a pressure-cooker culture."

McGee will return at a future meeting with a proposal for the longer term. Most board members said they want to align practices between the two high schools and have clear, uniform, well-communicated guidelines so the "burden" for asking for a weighted GPA is not on students or families, as board President Heidi Emberling said. Board member Camille Townsend asked that the board create a policy to reflect whatever they ultimately decide. Under current board policy, the superintendent shall recommend to the board how to calculate grade point averages and whether weighting will be provided for honors courses.

Paly's student board representative David Tayeri as well as Dauber lauded the community's engagement on this issue and said they wished other important issues before the board would receive the same level of attention.

"We have larger issues around stress and academic achievement and student achievement," Dauber said. "I really urge you all to come back for those conversations because those are the critical conversations to have — around homework load, around grading consistency between courses and teachers, test and project stacking.

"Those are really the issues that are going to move our students towards more well-being and towards less stress," he said.

---

As part of the Palo Alto Weekly's election coverage, we have been asking the candidates who are running for Palo Alto Board of Education how they would vote -- and why -- on significant issues that the board takes action on before November.

This week, the Weekly asked the three non-incumbent candidates how they would vote on Superintendent McGee's original recommendation and the board's final motion.

Jay Cabrera: Cabrera did not respond to request for comment.

Todd Collins: I support the motion that the board passed to report weighted and unweighted GPAs on current seniors' transcripts. The evidence presented -- from the community, from other districts, and from the students themselves -- strongly supports that this is the most effective way to help our students for college admissions and scholarships. And we need to move quickly to make sure we give the best options to this year's senior class.

I do not support a community and staff advisory committee to study this issue, as the superintendent suggested. This issue doesn't merit such a lengthy and involved process, especially since we have other more important issues to focus on, including our structural budget deficit, homework and grading policies, special education program and minority and low-income achievement. We need to face up to this issue, address it and move on to the next.

Jennifer DiBrienza: Reporting both weighted and unweighted GPA is an important accommodation in the short term. If it can help students in the college process, our community is better served by listing both.

Moving forward, the district must seek data to understand student performance in class offerings, choices among non-weighted electives, and measures of student health to confirm that we are reinforcing our values with our policies. We must provide every student with the opportunities and supports to take on challenges and pursue interests.

As an educator, my priorities are ensuring we are serving all students and cultivating deep learners. As a researcher, my priority is using data to guide our policies.

I look forward to focusing the board's attention on policies that have the most impact on student health, equity and access, and an engaging and rigorous academic experience; and using data to determine what those are.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

51 people like this
Posted by Showing Backbone
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

Glad the board finally showed some backbone and put students first although there is still no way I would re-elect Heidi given her poor track record on the school budget. If the school really wants to lower student stress they could enforce the homework policy and also get rid of the really bad teachers.


17 people like this
Posted by Susan Wolfe
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

I would like to see a story defining "weighted GPA" and then a statement of what people think is good about it and what people think is bad about it. My impression is that "weighted GPA" benefits people who take AP classes and disadvantages people who choose not to take AP classes. Maybe the idea is that it creates undue pressure on students who don't want to take AP classes. But I would really appreciate a primer for those of us who don't currently have students in high school.

Thanks.


32 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

Very sensible decision.
PAUSD like any other school district need to continue to promote students success.
Challenging AP classes are are good thing. Some students can handle better than others. Additional point is good.

Let our students work hard, earn their extra credit on GPA and move ov to higher learning.

It is a no brainer. Many school districts do the same.

I commend the positive action by the district.

Respectfully.


55 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:51 am

While Gunn parents are in mind of peace, Paly parents still need to fight for last mile. The weighted GPA calculation at Gunn covered all classes including freshman year so no students will left behind and everyone of them gets credit for H/AP classes and electives in music, art, computer science etc. While at Paly, the UC/CSU methodology screwed many students who took electives in music, art, tech classes. It sonly counts 10-11 grade classes, limited weighting classes to 8 semesters only and excludes the first semester grade of senior year - which is unfair to students on the college waitlist. UC/CSU weighting methodology is for UC/CSU and does not qualify for out of state university requirement of accumulative GPA reporting since it only covered a narrow range of classes that does not reflect the real spectrum of the student performance; it also discourage students to take electives in art, music, tech since they do not count in UC/CSU report. [Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by concerned with facts
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:06 am

Gunn Parent - at the meeting last night it was stated that the student in question who is hoping for wGPA for her scholarship would still not have a 3.8 GPA by Gunn standards but does have a 3.8 GPA by Paly standards. That doesn't sound like the kids at Paly are getting "screwed". It sounds like different systems give different kids different results.
It sounds like we need to actually gather all of the information for all of the students and better understand how these decisions affect them all. We don't appear to have all of the information yet.


13 people like this
Posted by poor choice
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:09 am

Not a single math teacher at Paly appears to have signed the open letter. No math teacher will have any credibility when it comes to mentioning core issues of student well-being after this.


32 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

Paly Principal Kim Diorio [portion removed] used a deceiving US/CSU GPA calculation that only apply to UC/CSU applications to cover entire common app and independent schools.Gunn covered every classes, including electives in music art etc. Parents at Paly are misled by their counselors and principal. wGPA methodology done at Gunn ENCOURAGES students to take electives.

Numbers do not lie ! Here is the school performance record: note Gunn reports both w and wGPA while Paly only report uwGPA:

Parent/student Surveys on Educational Outcomes: Gunn: 4.3/5 Paly: 3.9/5
Composite SAT/ACT Score: Gunn: SAT 1400; ACT:31 Paly: SAT 1370; ACT:31
Student Culture & Diversity Grade: Gunn: A Paly: B
AP Test Pass Rate: Gunn: 86% Paly: 83.4%
2016 College Readiness Ranking CA: Gunn #1 Paly #15
2016 Best Public High Schools: Gunn #2 out of 1359 Paly #15 of 1359


16 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

@ concerned with facts

They have the facts just do not want to open to public. If use Gunn methodology, Maya qualified. They used UC/CSU method that exclude many electives and freshman year grades. Parents have done the homework and school knows the facts [portion removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by GroupThink?
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:17 am

The Paly admins and staff shows real signs of groupthink - "a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome." (Web Link) The open letter was an eye opener, esp. the strange assertions about wGPA leading to class ranking (it takes no effort to find many counter examples), and the total lack of evidence supporting their claims. I have realized that, in this case our teachers at least, that their "professional judgment" may be a dangerously distorted by this groupthink, and we need to scrutinize and verify their assertions. This is unfortunate, but I don't see a way around it.


11 people like this
Posted by Bad sportsmanship, no surprise there
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

Hey people, you won. You can stop flogging the horse now.


21 people like this
Posted by Weighted/Non Weighted
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:19 am

For what it is worth, most colleges have high school profiles which show if grades are weighted or non-weighted. The UC system is happy to accept weighted grades, but the vast majority of Colleges do not use only weighted grades in their admissions calculations.

If some parents and students are expecting the Colleges to accept purely weighted grades, expect that they will un-weight them when they review the application. The Transcript shows all the AP, AT, or IB classes taken, so it is easy for the schools to determine if only weighted grades were placed on the Transcript.

This is really a lot of noise about nothing. Colleges will continue to evaluate each applicant individually, and they will carefully determine the correct form of acceptable grades to their unique college.


25 people like this
Posted by Disillusioned
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

Disillusioned is a registered user.

I am outraged by this rushed, reactionary decision by the School Board.

In a short two weeks, a stakeholder committee to hear community input and thoughtfully consider the pros and cons was promised, then rescinded. Administrators shared rational justifications for the policy and identified meaningful and worrisome repercussions for abandoning it. The Superintendent announced his recommendation to retain the current policy and consider appropriate future revisions through an inclusive process.

Those combined communications would naturally lead the public to believe that while the issue is unsettled, any changes to the policy would undergo thoughtful and thorough deliberation.

Instead, the Board ignored the professional insights of staff (including those closest to our students and the school climate every day) and indulged the squeaky wheel, acceding to a radical change in policy in the middle of the college application season. That knee jerk reaction represents a huge bait and switch to our current seniors, who no longer have the option to choose their coursework accordingly. It tells them that the values the District espoused regarding balancing stress and achievement were not values, but lip service, readily abandoned to political expediency.

This is not a thoughtful and respectful compromise, but a slap in the face – to students, to staff, and to the families of nearly 4000 students who were unable to attend this single board meeting (and led to believe there would be other opportunities for input). The Board itself signaled at its last meeting that no policy change affecting this year's class was imminent.



38 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:28 am

"Board Vice President Terry Godfrey, her voice breaking she held back tears, "If you're a senior this year and you've made choices along the way to be with your family, to take care of your grandparents, to go fishing, to try your hand at woodworking, to try your hand at art and you get told today that weighted grades are going to go on transcripts against kids you're competing with at Paly and Gunn, you might have made different choices along the way," she said. "I just know that student voice is important from those who aren't brave enough to stand there but still count and still matter.""

Mrs. Godfrey, if you seriously think that these AP/Honors classes cause stress, you should put all your energy and power to eliminate all these classes from PAUSD. Offering these classes at school, but then penalizing kids who took these classes by hiding their hard-earned numbers is heartless, unfair, and dishonest.


16 people like this
Posted by SO
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:28 am

One point that I have not seen raised is that at Gunn (not sure about Paly) there are very few non-STEM classes that are not AP that have an honors track. Moreover, many of the non-STEM AP classes can be taken only as a senior. Meanwhile, all the math and science classes have an honors track and AP offerings which can be taken before senior year. Consequently, a weighted GPA favors students that are strong in math and science.


16 people like this
Posted by John Doe
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:30 am

The Palo Alto school board Tuesday decided in a 5 to 0 vote to increase insanity, student stress, and competitiveness. The unanimous vote rewards the superintendent, principals of both high schools and dozens of high school faculty and staff, by ignoring them. Obviously, the school board could not care less about minorities and low-income students as reflected in the words of Melissa Baten Caswell (who voted for this move) "Shame on us".


35 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:33 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

The eye opener for me was how poorly reasoned the open letter from the Paly teachers was. The number one reason for opposing weighted grades was that it undermines "improving counseling support to prepare all students for social-emotional success, " "safe & positive school environments...through improved procedures." What?!? If that's the #1 reason, you've lost the argument. Please support weighted grades AND improved counseling support because they are completely unrelated.


38 people like this
Posted by Thank you, neighbors
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:36 am

Thank you, School Board.
I'm glad to see you are able to make a decision when needed.
Please do not drag this out into months of committee work. Listing both unweighted and weighted GPAs on transcripts is the right thing to do.

Too bad there are so many different methods for weighting. That will still need a little assessment.


33 people like this
Posted by midtown parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:37 am

Finally! At long last the board actually RESPONDS to parent/student input! Fantastic! Thank you, board members. A simple, obvious solution. Thank you for not forcing us to be subjected to yet another dismissed committee recommendation/stall tactic by Max. To weeping Terry Godfrey, may I remind that as much as you might wish for 100% applicability, it's a pipe dream. Policies generally serve a majority. Just the way it is. If you want to coax the non-courageous counter voice you suppose exists, then work to webinar the board meetings so that the counter voices can text in their own comments sans any threat of humiliation by swimming against the stream.

to * gunn parent*
Concur. Kim Diorio really MUST get a grip on accurate fact presentation even when she may not personally be able to stand behind the outcomes.


17 people like this
Posted by Bad sportsmanship, no surprise there
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:39 am

Actually in terms of what classes are weighted by the UC/CSU, there are 21 non-stem/math classes and 11 stem/math that are eligible for weighting, including AP computer science, which is a weighted elective not technically stem but I included it.

So you are just wrong again. This is some kind of a panic-driven craze in which now we have an overflowing rage machine set to 11 spewing false information and venom at teachers and principals.

This community is horrible. The behavior toward Kim Diorio last night was disrespectful in the extreme. [Portion removed.] You should all be ASHAMED of how you came down there and just treated everyone who works all day for your [portion removed] kids with contempt. Heidi Emberling should lose the election just for allowing it. Max McGee should be fired for the kind of wild incompetence that allowed this forest fire to burn out of control. But the community has NOTHING to be proud of.

Dauber and Townsend came up with a good solution and showed how to do it. They treated each other respectfully, and got the job done, each compromising in a very statesmanlike manner.


15 people like this
Posted by Thank you, neighbors
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:39 am

Once again, commentors (and staff) are not listening to the students.

@ John Doe - the students representatives themselves have said this is not a "student stress" issue, this is a practical issue.


Like this comment
Posted by GUNN Parent2
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:41 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Bad sportsmanship, no surprise there
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:42 am

Those tallies are for Gunn. At Paly it is 21 non-stem/math and 10 stem/math/cs.

So WRONG AGAIN.


27 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:56 am

Applause to board members who finally made a rational decision on the weighted GPA issue.

Between 10/18 and 11/1 board meetings, there are over 50 students and parented talked in the open sessions, and almost every one of them supported weighted GPA. Some shared their personal stories, which are very touching.

It is also interesting to see that the only group people who against it is the Paly admins. I wonder what their motivations are. It just doesn't make sense to me that they claim they care more about the students than the students themselves and their parents do. Do they even know our student's name?

Paly principal was trying to play with numbers, and challenged the audience's math skills. She mentioned that 50 students in Paly would have lower WGPA and UWGPA. How is that possible? even if that student doesn't take any honor/AP class, her/him WGPA should be just same as UWGPA, unless the classes included in WGPA and UWGPA calculation are different, which means that you are comparing apple with orange.


30 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:56 am

Can somebody please explain to me how not reporting weighted GPA benefits low income and minority students? People keep bringing this up, but I do not see how taking away the incentive to take more challenging classes benefits minorities. Would they be less inclined to take APs should the weighted grade reporting be taken away? Are they not given the opportunity to take honors and APs as well as other students? I really don't understand how not reporting wGPA benefits them, please explain this to me. Punishing other students for taking harder classes says to underrepresented students: "We understand that you can't do it, and there is no reason for you to try." This is condescending, in my opinion.


31 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

"If you're a senior this year and you've made choices along the way to be with your family, to take care of your grandparents, to go fishing, to try your hand at woodworking, to try your hand at art and you get told today that weighted grades are going to go on transcripts against kids you're competing with at Paly and Gunn, you might have made different choices along the way," from Godfrey.

Godfrey, how about the interest and justice of those kids who challenged and challenging themselves to take challenges courses, stayed up study while her/him friends are fishing, hanging out ... ? have you thought about them?


40 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@John Doe - How can you claim unweighted grades reduce stress, when UC schools and 75% of Universities nationwide recalculate grades anyway? Our students aren't stupid, they know there is admission advantage in taking AP and honors courses regardless. Unweighted grades don't reduce stress, and potentially hurt admissions at 25% of schools, and limit merit scholarship options (which increases stress).


29 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Many of the parents against weighted GPA are misled and had facts mixed. But do not blame on them, they might have been brain washed by counselors and principal at Paly with false assumptions and twisted facts. They need to do more homework independently instead of just listening on emotional and philosophical claims.

1.Not every school re-calculate GPA. ~50% of colleges just take the GPA, regardless w or uw, printed on the transcript. Yes, Stanford, MIT and IVY league school will recalculate but you need to make the first cut first where test score and raw GPA reported are critical, imaging Stanford to re-calculate +50k plus applicant GPAs - good luck. Another fact is that not every students apply to those highly selective schools, so wGPA matters...75% of schools nation wide reporting wGPA.

2.Gunn weighted GPA accounts every classes taken from freshman year, including electives as well as AP/H in music, art, computer science, not necessary only STEM. There are AP art history, AP history, AP Music theory....... Paly UC/CSU methodology only covers 10-11 grades UC/CSU course only, a narrower coverage actually discouraging students to take non UC/CSU qualified electives.

3.We do care the minority and underrepresented groups. School district should allocate resources and students should also form helping-groups (like TAs we have in colleges) helping them to excel and move up together rather to lower the bar to sink together. In the end, all our kids will need to face the real world outside of PAUSD when they grown up and its a good time to train them to deal with stress at high school. A right amount of stress is good to teen mental wellness development.

Nov 01 is a victory of rationals backed data and facts. Unlike Obama care, good heart to start with but implemented with wishful thoughts leading to a disastrous failure.


23 people like this
Posted by Thank you, neighbors
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm

@ Puzzled
I agree I find it very strange to conflate this issue with minority achievement.

In fact the under-represented students who are challenging themselves with AP and H classes (and they do exist) will now be given a great boost by receiving weighted grades for those classes. They deserve it!


4 people like this
Posted by Georgette
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Reporting weighted GPAs will hurt underrepresented minorities in the short term--their GPAs will not get a bump unless they've taken AP or Honors classes. This is why the superintendent, the teachers and the principals oppose reporting them. In the end and over the long term, however, reporting weighted GPAs may actually help these students. It will expose the severity of the achievement gap that exists in our district and perhaps then, PAUSD will actually get to work to help these students.


33 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Georgette - It doesn't hurt minority students, for example, for the UC applications, because their grades get recalculated anyway. And for the minority students who are taking AP classes, it might help them get a scholarship. There is no downside except it exposes the achievement gap for everyone to see. Max and Kim just want to hide the dirty laundry instead of really taking actions that help.


3 people like this
Posted by midtown parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm

@ puzzled

Totally agree. I wonder if the impetus behind the whole minority thing may have been the very-strongly-worded, but imo, misguided open letter signed by "tenured" PALY teachers, found here.

Web Link

Of course, noting disclaimer #1 on the 1st page, it would be beneficial to find out WHO actually wrote it....


28 people like this
Posted by Finally
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Thanks to the school board for exercising their authority by unanimously and promptly rejecting the superintendent's proposal. Thanks to the students who so eloquently asked the trustees to listen to them. Thanks to the people new to this process who spoke in public.

This is an opportunity for the school district to do better. I'm horrified that this major discrepancy between Gunn and Paly has existed for so long and no one knew about it. I'm saddened that the staff always seem to start with the assumption that whatever Paly is doing is the right answer. I'm thrilled that a brave student came forward and so many others have come forward to support her. Fingers crossed that she gets that scholarship!

Finally, the school board has listened to the students.


24 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

@Georgette - wouldn't ANY student who did not take APs not get a bump in the GPA? How are minorities singled out in this case? If you don't take APs, you don't get a bump - minority or not. I still don't understand how minorities / underrepresented students are at a disadvantage. If they are not offered the same courses, that would put them in a disadvantage, but that's not the case. Why they are not taking APs at the same numbers as the other students - that's a separate issue, but not giving them an incentive to do so only hurts, not helps.


17 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

@ midtown parent

Thanks for sending the weblink on Paly Open Letter from teachers. The signees are mostly language and liberal art teachers afraid of weighted GPA will turn students away from electives (see no signatures from math, physics or chemistry?). The signees are misled by UC/CSU weighted GPA mindset. The UC/CSU calculation could swing students to more UC/CSU approved courses so that's why Gunn did NOT use this methodology to calculate weighted GPA. Gunn did a good job of including all classes including liberal arts courses into weighted GPA calculation. So students will select classes with a well balanced schedule including AP/H and electives since it is hard to obtain a good grade in AP/H than electives - an A in elective could help to balance overall GPA in case you get a C in AP/H.


11 people like this
Posted by Past Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm

@Puzzled, some students might have better grades in their Freshman year or in non-academic electives which would not count in their weighted GPA under the CSU/UC structure used at Paly.

The problem I have with not reporting weighted GPAs on the basis of stress is that none of the sited sources really give good evidence of a connection. All of the kids taking AP classes are doing it to get a college advantage, and they are worried about their GPAs. Whether the school reports the weighted GPA has no effect upon that. If the schools want to limit the number of APs a student can take, that could reduce the stress of the kids (and parents) who think they must "do it all". It is nice to theorize that kids should be in school to learn and do what interests them. That is not the system we currently have to get students into college. Change the system - and the ramped up admissions processes - and you can change how kids feel about it. Otherwise, we are just adding the stress of "follow your dreams" to what they already have to do.


22 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Midtowners is a registered user.

Just when I thought my view of the School Board could not be worse, another ill thought out, knee-jerk response.

It was bad enough when the Board couldn't be bothered to question the basic assumption of massively increasing tax rates, and created a horrible forced budget cut situation thanks to their rubber stamping a multi-year pay increase contract (you tried, Ken Dauber). When you can't fulfill one of the basic responsibilities of a Board (budget oversight) it leaves a pretty poor taste in one's mouth.

But now without any true open debate or consideration by the community, the Board unilaterally decides to overturn a practice which existed to reduce student stress about course choice. (Trying to position the decision under the guise of improving prospects for underserved and minorities is just sad, you're better than that.)

It sure smells like crass political opportunism when the Board "takes a strong stand for parents" on the eve of an election without having taken the time to make a reasonable, informed decision. Kind of like how Council hopefuls tried to shed their developer labels a couple of months ago.

Time to go, incumbents. I'm not saying including weighted GPA's is right or wrong, but if you can't even be bothered to give it some thoughtful consideration then it's time for new blood.


20 people like this
Posted by Seen it before
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Just in case it wasn't obvious, this issue arose 100% because of Melissa Baten Caswell's flagging re-election campaign. She needed a crowd-pleasing issue to whip up support, and here it was. I guess after *9 years on the board* she was shocked, shocked to find out this was an issue (conveniently right before an election).


8 people like this
Posted by Hey, Hey, Hey
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Hey, Hey, Hey is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Green Acres parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm

@Midtowner: The weighted GPA issue was raised at the 10/18 meeting and concluded at the 11/1 meeting. There was plenty of time for everyone to research the issue thoroughly.

@Seen it before: This issue was raised by a student who lost a scholarship because of Paly's policy. It got more attention because Gunn's administration tried to secretly change Gunn's policy to match Paly's. While some of the board member's reactions may be political, the students' and parents' reactions were practical and virtually unanimous.


16 people like this
Posted by Thank you, neighbors
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Many don't wish to believe this -- But my high schoolers are taking AP/H classes because THEY LOVE THE SUBJECT. They would take the highest level class available regardless of its alphabet-soup designation. They also are VERY HAPPY to be surrounded by fellow students who also want to be challenged. (They didn't choose to take AP in subjects they don't particularly enjoy.)

I'm tired of hearing these students talked about like they are part of some nefarious plot. (Remember they were choosing AP/H classes without the promise of weighted grades.) They are not climbing over each other to achieve "success" at the expense of their peers. Yes, they are "part of the system". What choice do they have? Many, if not most, of our high-achieving students are taking high level classes for their own reasons, not just to game college admissions.

That being said, they ARE being compared across the country when it comes to college admissions. Our high schools place our students at a disadvantage when they do not report weighted grades like the majority of U.S. high schools.



7 people like this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


13 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

The problem is, that there are many current Palo Alto High School students, that were told to only
take AP & Honors courses that they were passionate about. This is bait and switch for the kids that
followed the advise of the school. If these kids knew, that mid stream the grade reporting system
was changing, they might of chosen their courses differently.

Again, the kids that follow the rules, are at a disadvantage. Entering kindergarten at the correct age
(not red shirting), taking courses that you can do on your own without the help of a tutor, picking classes
your actually interested, not AP's and honors to get at GPA boost.

The vocal minority again gets their way.

I smell a lawsuit.


5 people like this
Posted by Seen it before
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:29 pm

@Green Acres parent - the student and parent approached Baten Caswell, who encouraged them to come speak at the board meeting, and then proceeded to whip up others at Paly. That's not a knock on the student, btw, her complaint is legit. But this issue has been around for years, all the insiders knew about it. It was just handy election fodder.


7 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Ok, to use a word like "anathema?" Really?


We should all be celebrating this class with all they have been through, not making it difficult up to the end here. That would be an anathema to all their hard work. See how I flipped it?

They are awesome and high performers and have been resilient and stoic during tragedy. This class in particular. should not have had to stand there begging. They should not have sustain loss because staff did not file for UC designations. This should have been take care of by their counseling staff already without emotion or grandstanding over a bad label no parent, student or teacher has control of. The fact that students had the nerve and talent to speak with clear data and so eloquently was a testament to top parenting and top teaching. Let's use that as the only real honors credit.

The PALY advantage has and always has been their creative innovative students that far exceed many once they get into college. Adults need to be protective of this and not make students beg or place the responsibility of the UC and college requirements and world culture on them. The PALY staff needs to hold any honors class accountable to guidelines that protect students and do not restrict students. That is the hard work ahead. Glad to see the board acting like the protective adults these kids have needed. If anyone has ever had an older relative slip a little extra cash into their pockets, just because they want them to do well and also think of them fondly, just realize this is what the board did. I am not sure what the staff not wanting kids to get credit for classes they took would be metaphorically....


7 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm

@Palo Alto, how is getting rewarded for taking APs is not following the rules? The advice to only take APs and Honors that you like and would likely succeed in is a good advice. It does not matter which GPA is reported, you should follow it anyway. I don't see why you should not be rewarded for it. If you take an AP that you hate just for the grade you will likely not succeed and your GPA will go down, not up. The argument that if the kids knew their GPA would be weighted they would make different choices is bogus. They already knew that the majority of schools recalculate the GPA, and taking Honors and APs gives them an advantage no matter which GPA gets reported. They made their choice regardless. Students who are not motivated to take harder classes (and I say it without any disrespect - everyone makes their own decision) tend to not care about higher GPA. They have other priorities. Thinking that they would start taking APs if they knew it would affect their GPA is a mistake.


8 people like this
Posted by Stop please
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:40 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


18 people like this
Posted by Good choice!
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Good choice! is a registered user.

This was a good decision. Both of my kids went to PALY and I've never understood the obsessive focus on the UC requirements instead of college requirements in general. Only about 14% of PALY kids and 18% of Gunn kids go to a UC, that means the majority of students do not.


7 people like this
Posted by Hey, Hey, Hey
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Hey, Hey, Hey is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

[Portion removed.] We moved to Palo Alto because of the high achieving schools, and we had no idea which GPAs were reported by which school. We happened to live in Gunn area, but if we found a house in Paly area we wouldn't turn it down because of unweighted GPA. We would live there and fight for reporting the true GPA just as we do now for all students - because it's fair. People chose to live in PA because the schools are good and competitive, not because of the GPA [portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:57 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


28 people like this
Posted by Caring Parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Thanks members of board for the decision made last night! I understand you tried to be thorough and careful. Outside school district, especially in the Silicon Valley, a decision like this could have been made in 30 minutes.

I also want to thank my child, who was the first person telling me something that's different from the Administration said, which motivated me to talk to others and research data every night and weekends in last two weeks. He told me it's about fairness, less stress, and rewarding love of learning.


1 person likes this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:19 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


2 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:36 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


2 people like this
Posted by Good decision
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


23 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Midtowners is a registered user.

@Green Acres Parent - I wasn't going to respond, given how comical I found it that you believe two weeks is an appropriate length time period to contemplate, discuss, and act on overturning a policy that's been in effect at Paly for over 35 years. Setting that aside ...

Some of our incumbents have been serving on the Board for 9 or more years, and yet it was decided that NOW was the time for action - in the middle of the school year.

This raises two possibilities, both troubling. One possible explanation is those Board members had no idea that this was the policy despite almost a decade of involvement with our schools. I really hope this is not the answer, it's not a good look to be that out of touch.

The only other explanation has been raised multiple times on this thread. The Board chose to make this an issue on the doorstep to the election, stoked the fires, and unilaterally overruled or ignored the input from scores of school administrators and teachers to appease some yelling parents and to appear to be strong decision makers.

So they sold out some measure of mental health of a large number of students in order to win re-election. A re-election that, historically, our Board members have been decent enough to stand down from after two terms. "Shame on us" indeed.


9 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Weighted grades point kids in the direction of challenging themselves, with a safety net. It's age appropriate.
This is not about RACE. This is about age appropriate safety nets for kids who we want to learn to challenge themselves. Getting a B in an honors or AP class is just as good as an A in a non honors class and often it's harder to get.
But, right now the District is considering weighting all Gunn's honors and AP classes and not all of PALY's (only the UC approved ones). Let's give all the students the same chance.
Thank you.


25 people like this
Posted by Yes for Weighted GPA
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

A group of Gunn/Paly parents have done some excellent work by putting together a website with research data and latest update on WGPA. They use the DATA to argue, NOT a petition letter used by PALY staffs.

Web Link

I applaud their efforts to fight for our teens and use FACTs to speak.

For the PALY admins and staffs who are against WGPA, as a group of "education professionals", other than kept telling people that they understood the students and system better, they need to put some serious effort to give the community the FACT and data to back their claim. The data and work from these parents have proved more professional.


13 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Think about it. Do you think the superintendent and other school leaders are just dumb? Don't they know what is going on with other districts? For those pro-WGPA people following what other schools are doing is so obviously a "no-brainer", as someone posted. It'd be so easy for the admins to take that road.

But they are not dumb at all. They know the big picture. They know who donated large sums of money and time to the schools. They know what these families are looking for, and their education philosophy, which is different from those of tiger moms.

Of course none of these can be said publicly by any officials.


7 people like this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:25 pm

@m2grs [Portion removed.] If the school board is influenced by those who "donated large sums of money and time" and you have proof of it than they should be voted out and action against them must be taken. This is not how a public school district should be run. My uneducated guess is this is all in your head. My kids attended a private school for many years and I encountered many wealthy families. There were just as many of those who championed academic success as there were those who did not. I am pretty sure there is no "affluent white" mafia in play here. But if you have proof of what you are saying then out with it.


9 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Midtowners is a registered user.

@ Yes for Weighted GPA - have you not read the "DATA" and "FACTS" that you laud, or your own WGPA website "Data" links? Some are in direct contradiction to your position. You may want to adjust your attitude/viewpoint. From your own link to IvyCoach.com:


Thanks for your post and for checking out our blog! Colleges do not in fact perceive high schools with weighted GPAs “to be more valuable” than high schools with unweighted GPAs. There are numerous methods various college admissions offices use to be able to level the playing field between schools that weight GPA and schools that don’t.

Some colleges won’t make calculations. They’ll simply examine the student’s transcript, see how well they did in their courses, and check out if the student took the most rigorous courses possible. They can see what courses are offered by the school on the school profile. Other schools will recalibrate the GPAs by removing elective courses like art or music. And still others will just remove the extra weight given to grades in advanced courses.

College admissions counselors don’t care whether or not a school weights or doesn’t weight GPA. They can easily level the playing field. What they do care about is the competitiveness of the high school (i.e., schools that have impressive numbers of students who score well on AP or IB exams…not just who take the exams), the rigor of the course selection, and the grades in those courses. In the end, grades and the rigor of the course selection trumps everything.


18 people like this
Posted by Not Asian
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Note to the moderators: please stop removing comments! People are just expressing their opinions, and the discussion is constructive. Removing comments is not helpful.


12 people like this
Posted by Yes for Weighted GPA
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:46 pm

@ Midtowners

Can you please elaborate the "direct contradiction" so that I can let them check?

What you have talked about are all 'theories'? Why not show some data on how your theories worked for our students at Gunn and PALY in real life. The FACT is PALY students were using UWGPA to compete with peers from other schools who armed with WGPA and lost opportunities to receive scholarships. It is a FACT and do you want to deny it?

The parents are doing serious work, any inputs or questions will be welcomed.

Without the data to back your claim, I assume you are just a troller siding with PALY admins and staffs.


8 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Midtowners is a registered user.

Go to your own link to your "Yes on WGPA" webpage. Click on Research Data. Click on the link to IvyCoach.com. Look at the second comment, written by Ivy Coach themselves. That is what I copied and pasted, and I feel like maybe I've read more of your info than you have.

When your own resources debunk the very theory that you are trying to espouse, it doesn't do wonders for your credibility. Please take the time to read your own DATA and FACTS. And have someone look at your caps lock key, it seems to be broken.

As I noted in one of my prior comments, I don't have a strong opinion on whether to report weighted or unweighted. I just think that changing the practice in the middle of the school year reeks of political expediency - not of taking careful consideration and figuring out what is right for our children.


17 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:24 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Midtowners - That's just as much an argument FOR weighted GPAs. If colleges are recalculating (i.e., weighting), then there is just as much incentive to take AP or honor's classes. Hiding weighted GPA doesn't reduce stress because colleges weight GPA even if Paly doesn't. So might as well stick it on the transcript for the colleges that don't recalculate, and for merit scholarships.


Like this comment
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:31 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

Palo Alto Onliners,

Tonight I'm thinking about the classes that will be weighted under the new Emberling regime. Should the soon to-be-identified weighted courses be math/science AP courses, will PAUSD again be defending itself against Title IX violations? I ask because I wonder about the gender balance in these courses.

If the gender ratios in these classes mirrors that of the local tech industry, we ought to prepare ourselves for another round of interactions with the Office of Civil Rights.

Can someone on this thread provide those ratios?

Respectfully,

gb


14 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:36 pm

@Midtowners

How colleges exam transcripts is a Black Box and no one knows for sure. Highly selective colleges said they do holistic review but can you sure they do 50k applicants holistic review at Stanford? They will make the first cut to weed out a large portion of applicants based on GPA and Test scores. Then next is less selective state universities, they even more under-resourced to exam letters (proposed by Superintendent to put wGPA) or perform holistic reviews so GPA is critical part to make into the final pool. So the only way to ensure our PAUSD students to get a fair assessment is to report wGPA where rest of the applicants mostly armed with wGPA (75%+ schools nationwide report wGPA - please note schools have no resource to recalculate GPA (50% of them never and rest may only do it after first cut). Finally, the Superintendent proposed to report wGPA on a letter-supported by both school principals, so why NOT put them on the transcript? Please note that Superintendent and school principals agreed to report wGPA at first place !


20 people like this
Posted by Yes for Weighted GPA
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:05 pm

This was started when a paly student(who lost her opportunity to earn scholarship at u of Oregon due to uwgpa reporting practice from paly) requested her school to report earned wgpa and give opportunities to students who can get a better chance to get admitted or earn a scholarship.

Very disappointed to see that paly admins and some staffs not only fight hard to resist the change request, but want to remove the wgpa reporting from gunn as well.


13 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Why is this even relevant? These kids need a balanced life-not one filled with "I have to be better than the other person" mentality. Life doesn't begin in high school and end with college. All students need a healthy balance in their post-high school experience that makes sense to them, and enables them to chase their dreams. Am so sick of all of the wrangling to get in to the best schools, and have to have the highest GPA. So shallow and such a burden on the students.


15 people like this
Posted by if you want your child to have a "balanced life" Palo Alto is NOT where you want. To live
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:30 pm

if you want your child to have a "balanced life" Palo Alto is NOT where you want. To live is a registered user.

Middle and high school PAUSD is about getting in to the most prestigious college possible. Build a resume, pick an unusual sport (synchronized swimming, skating, fencing), that doesn't rely on your teammates, community service hours to get the presidents award, classes just fr the grades. No social life, just school


15 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ Disgusted & Balanced - those are valid criticisms, that have nothing to do with putting a weighted grade on a transcript, which is just common sense fairness. High schools are optimized for the current college admission process, if you want to fix the rat race, start with reforming that.


21 people like this
Posted by jet pilot
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm

jet pilot is a registered user.

I think reporting weighted GPA's is a bad decision which reinforces the cut-throat hyper-competitive culture in our community. We should also sharply limit (or even eliminate) AP classes. Getting accepted into an elite university is not a recipe for success or happiness in life, although, sadly, many of our students and their parents mistakenly believe that it is.


14 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I wish we would just limit the number of APs kids could take in high school. Would encourage kids to take the ones that actually interest them without feeling so pressured to pad the resume joylessly. Weighting GPAs wouldn't matter as much with AP limits, because kids wouldn't be able to aim for unhealthily high GPAs.


13 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:28 pm

[Portion removed.]

As far as more stress due to weighted GPAs? These students aren't stupid; those who are shooting high already know that they need the AP classes for their applications to be competitive. Let them have their weighted GPAs, NOT just UC weighted GPAs since the UCs calculate.

I'll tell you what is stressful, it's the map at the end of the year which states where students are attending college. Why is it necessary? Students are connected through social media and can find out through that medium. This map is only for judgmental purposes for other students, parents, outsiders. Maybe it's Paly's bragging rights? We don't need it.


11 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm

@s mom: Yes, limiting APs would be helpful. During evaluation, the colleges look to see how many AP classes were available at the school and compare it to how many the student has taken. The more AP classes, the more that are expected to be on the transcript. So if there is a limit on AP classes, it not only cuts down on stress for students who take them merely to impress the colleges, but the colleges know that there was a limit. I can imagine, however, that the school might limit it to 5, which is still a lot. So those who take 3 look like slackers. Castilleja doesn't offer APs so they are out of that rat race.


9 people like this
Posted by wGPA help minority
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm

Kiana Williams, a 5-foot-7 point guard and the No.8 prospect given a verbal commitment to Stanford ! Williams is an athlete from Karen Wagner High School with 32% African American and 54% Hispanic student body. She had a 4.0 GPA, your guessed correct, Karen Wagner HS reports wGPA.


9 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:00 pm

@ Parent

Castilleja is a private school so they are competing in a different pool. Also Castilleja pre-selected its student with academic strength so there is an uniform student body with one academic path. You can not do that in public school so multi-paths required like regular classes, Honors and AP. DO NOT comparing apple with orange.


3 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2016 at 1:22 am

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Truedy
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2016 at 2:08 am

Big wimpy mistake. Of course more difficult courses are more stressful. Of course parent and students will want the highest GPA possible, so taking many H/AP classes is essential. Paly has been courageous in not buying into that rat race (along with Zero period), it's sad to see the board give up on the kids.


11 people like this
Posted by @Susan Wolfe
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2016 at 3:00 am

I would like to see a story defining "weighted GPA" and then a statement of what people think is good about it and what people think is bad about it. My impression is that "weighted GPA" benefits people who take AP classes and disadvantages people who choose not to take AP classes. Maybe the idea is that it creates undue pressure on students who don't want to take AP classes. But I would really appreciate a primer for those of us who don't currently have students in high school.

Thanks.

-Susan Wolfe

Hi Susan (and others of similar curiosity),

I thought I'd address your question since it seems no one has responded with a direct answer. My simplified answer should give you a rough idea of what a weighted GPA is, and my experience with it from when I was in high school.

In grading, each A is equivalent to a 4, B's are 3's, C's are 2's and D's are 1's. If a student were to get all A's, he would therefore have a GPA of 4.0 (average of all his grades). A student of 2 classes (for simplicity) who got one A and one B would have a 3.5 GPA (average of a four and a three). In weighted GPA, an extra "point" is given for classes that are advanced placement (AP). That means that instead of an A being equivalent to 4, it is now a 5, B's are now 4's, C's are 3's, and D's are 2's. The reason for this is because AP classes tend to be more demanding and difficult than non-AP courses, and the extra "point" reflects this more challenging aspect. Therefore it is possible that a straight A student in all AP classes could have a GPA of 5.0.
In high school, I chose to take AP English when several of my friends opted for regular English for an easier workload senior year. In AP English, we were able to cover many of the classics by reading a book a week with daily writing assignments and quizzes and a timed essay exam at the end of each week. My friends in regular English, by contrast, covered one book a semester and felt they were not being challenged (but they also didn't have to do as much work). During college application season, the weighted GPA helped me in the UC system (which accepts weighted GPA), but also didn't necessarily hurt my friends. The reason for this is because it is still possible for students in regular, non-AP classes to get a 4.0 by getting straight A's in those classes, while a peer in all AP classes might only pull a B-average due to the intensity of the workload; but with the weighted system, both students would have a 4.0 average. It is for this reason that I don't feel that a weighted system puts students in non-AP classes at a disadvantage, while it rewards students who choose to take on the challenge of an AP class and excel (I also had many, I will admit, very bright AP peers who had GPA's over 4.0).
Also, for the record, I am a minority of immigrant parents who were not affluent, and was one of the majority minority (hah!) in the AP classes at my school. It is for that reason that I don't understand why some other posters would equate weighted GPA's with putting minorities at a disadvantage; my school (district) had no race restrictions on who could take AP classes, as I assume other school districts do not have either. I can only presume this is a statement referring to the disproportion of "advantaged" to "disadvantaged" in the Palo Alto School District, which would render it a separate discussion unrelated to weighted GPA's.

In any case, I hope this helps and answers your question. My apologies if I repeated anything you already knew.




3 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:52 am

The UC grants Uc credits for up to 8 semester units in total. None as freshman, 2 as sophs and again 8 in total. If you look at the UCOP a-g list, you can type in whatever school you want and you will see most have about 8 for all their students to choose from. Fremont does have weighted grades. You can also search "honors" on this same website. If you really want to experience what the seniors are going through, go on this website and search 9% calculator to see how you stack up with the rest of the world. I do not think anyone should comment until they do this and look at this site and pretend they are seniors that do not have money for elite private schools.

I am talking about honors classes, not AP classes. Designating weight to these H classes will allow wiggle room for a possible B in a class and also will alleviate the pressure to take AP classes. If they are structured so kids with outside help do not have an advantage, every kid should be able to take the class. If PALY would make sure these honors classes have all the instructions within the class and would use mainly the approved text, these classes would be available to all the students at this public school. Staff will have to take the time to file for UC designation in Feb. On the website, search filing for UC honors classes and you can also see they suggest testing or projects. Projects could be used for differentiation and if a kid is too smart and thinks they need to more to do for a basic high school a-g class.

Honors classes should not be so difficult. AP classes at PAlY are so well done, and so well supported but if a kid is in sports or does not feel ready for college level class at breakneck speeds, they can fill it in with Honors credit. If parents are not happy with streamlined designated honors classes, there are many other ways to abuse childrens' time for gpa points, but they will not have to. I think that the general classes at PALY far exceed the honors ones with excellence in teaching, interesting subtopics and fair evaluations. I really think the general classes at PALy are already at honors level and most kids would do well without one change in curriculum.

Ways to get cred with UC's are ap testing, SAT subject area testing, designated credit for approved Honors classes, UC transferrable CC college courses, testing by examination if you have non accredited classes and IB testing. These are all ways for overachievers to waste childhoods. With some weighted Honors classes this will take away the need to. People need to realize that weighting theseH classes will help reduce stress, save time and still prepare kids for ap work if they want to. Weighting honors classes properly with the UC system will reduce stress for kids trying to get into UC's. Parents need to understand that Yale will not consider their Uc weighted 4.0 as a real 4.0.


8 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:25 am

The UC/CSU system is fine. The faculty of the UCS review courses for sufficient rigor. The criteria are transparent. The goal is to provided a weighted GPA not to inflate everyone's GPA. GPA weight is not like AYSO where everyone gets credit just for trying. Extra GPA points are for classes that have been UC approved as sufficiently rigorous and significantly more rigorous than a high school course. That means you get rewarded for something that is really special not just for showing up.

The arguing that Paly is so hard already and everything is just hard as it is and should be given extra points is just an argument for grade inflation and has nothing to do with wGPA. wGPA is not grade inflation. If you want grade inflation then this is the wrong time to bring it up and you are just muddying the waters. [Portion removed.]

What are the rewards of being in a very high-achieving district like PAUSD? Rich course offerings, lots of opportunities, lots of electives, a fancy performing arts center, fancy media center, big-time journalism program, fancy choirs and bands, mathletes, science fairs, etc. However, it is true that you have chosen a very competitive pond for your child. Lots of high performers here, since everyone came here for that same set of opportunities. You could just give everyone a 5.0 for trying hard. You could give an unweighted GPA since there is a high overall level of rigor. OR you can use the state-wide UC certified system and give some credit for those who truly extend themselves.

As for the balance of STEM/humanities and the number of courses, there are over 30 classes that are certified by UC/CSU at each high school. OVER 30 at each, and the balance is 2:1 humanities/stem. SO please stop sharing so much misinformation.

And no, Yale doesn't care about the UC wGPA. YALE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ANY WEIGHTED GPA OTHER THAN ITS OWN CALCULATION. Your child as a 1 in a million chance of going to Yale or Stanford. They have a very high chance of going to a UC.


8 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:43 am

@Gunn Parent

I don't agree that Castilleja is "competing in a different pool" -- those kids compete to go to the same colleges ours do. They're really only "pre-selected" by a private school aptitude test, and the SAT serves that same function for public school kids. To the extent you are saying that Castilleja kids are only compared to other Castilleja kids in admissions, you are mostly right and that is the whole point -- approximately the same number of kids are going to get in from each school every year regardless of exactly how many AP classes the school offers. Castilleja is smart enough to realize that their kids are going to get in places with or without APs, and they got rid of them. I'm not saying the public schools should get rid of APs, but I do think setting a reasonable limit makes a lot of sense.

If the Palo Alto schools took a stand and refused to allow unhealthy numbers of APs, I think the kids would still get in to the same set of colleges in the same numbers, and I bet most would have a happier and healthier childhood.

I do understand if you have a child who seems like he/she can take the strain and is willing and able to buckle down and take a lot of APs, you'd like that child to have a more guaranteed entry into a competitive college. But I think we need to put the needs of the many over the desires of the few, and we should be taking steps to increase overall childhood happiness here where we can.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:53 am

I don't understand why people are suggesting to limit the number of AP classes students can take? There are other routes to take them to pad their resumes effectively for getting into elite colleges. Recently Palo Alto schools try to limit the number of APs which can be taken to some extent. (However, the teachers there are actually breaking this rule, so actually there is no limit.) That's why many students taking the routes without telling. It is like drugs and guns. They have the loose laws, so people have them almost freely.


2 people like this
Posted by Outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2016 at 10:15 am

Parent.

I never commented on stem classes and our comments on Yale were the same. I am not entitled. Giving seniors credit for classes they took is not inflation. You are wrong about that. The general classes at Paly really are at the UC honors level. They really are so well done, they deserve honors credits. The kids at this school are a high performing population that should not have to punished because of this. The classes labeled as honors are not really streamlined, they depend on outside instruction or kids that can teach themselves and they are not available to every kid.There are many opportunites for abuse of time and kids who are entitled to tutors having an advantage only for grades. Giving these classes a solid approved text and differentiating instruction in them will help all the kids, even the high, rich ones who would love to get out into the Ca sunshine. Giving them UC honors credits will help kids avoid ap classes if they want more unstructured time and also will allow for a B or two without tears.


7 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 10:19 am

@ S mom

Colleges when they admit students, private school students are in one pool, public schools in another, international yet another. I hope this clarify what I meant by competing in different pools. The acceptance rate from private school is higher than public school to the same set of colleges and you can write a PhD thesis on why or why not but not a topic of discussion here. If you have further questions to learn more, please talk to Castilleja counselors.

AP/H is a matter of choice. My child is so happy in the Gunn because there are choices and students are happier while excel in academics, sports, arts and music, and they also receive rewards by challenging themselves. US education department encourage HS students to take 1-2 APs to get college ready. That's why Gunn is ranked No.1 in CA public school system for its college readiness. How many AP/H is considered to be excessive is really an individalized matter. Also Gunn weighted GPA calculation rewards extra point to many liberal arts electives to encourage students to diverse their course selection from STEM.

While we are rewarding trophies to athletes, by the way those trophies even come in different sizes for first, second and third places, why we not to reward students spend extra effort to pursue their academic excellency in advanced classes by an extra credit? sounds double standard? Kids could be happier winning the sports games and then why not they must not happier in winning math contests, debate contests or science contests? I just do not get your logic....


8 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:02 am

I'd like to put some facts out there.

1. At least 80% of our grads do not attend UC/CSU schools.

2. By using UC weighing, you omit at least 4 classes in grades 9 and 10 that are more rigorous than non honors classes and more rigorous than A denoted classes (such as English 9A and 10A): GeoH, BioH, Alg2/TrighH and ChemH.

Contrary to what several posters have mentioned, these classes are not evaluated for rigor by the UC system b/c the UC does system has certain rules about what it will weight.
--No grade 9 classes (b/c the UC system does not use 9th grade grades), so no weighing for GeoH or BioH
--No math class before pre-calculus, so no weighting for Alg2/TrigH
--No lab class that does not have a lab class prerequisite, so ChemH is out

3. The UC/CSU system is a means the UC system uses to look at 10th and 11th grades only. It is not intended to be used for the cumulative GPA submission to other schools.


4 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

@ Gunn Parent

My logic is that many kids are stressed out here and we could reduce that stress by placing limits on the number of AP classes kids can take, so that kids aren't feeling pressured to take more than is healthy. Your child may be "happy" with "choices" and "excelling" and having the "rewards" of "challenging" himself/herself, but I think many more are unhappy with the pressure to take an unhealthy number of AP classes. Honestly, I think you like the current system because it rewards your child. I don't have kids in high school yet, but I care the larger student population and would like our kids as a whole to have happier, less-stressed out, less homework-filled childhoods, and still get into good colleges. I think we can do that by banding together and having the schools enforce a school-wide limit to APs (not none, but something reasonably challenging but sane), similar to how Castilleja has gotten rid of APs and still manages to send their kids off to the same colleges. I would like to eliminate the snowball effect of being able to one-up your classmates by taking an even heavier load. If certain kids are still dying to fill their free time with academics, they can go do those math, debate, science contests you mentioned.

And I don't think kids are stressed out here because some kids get athletic trophies, when that becomes an issue, I would be happy to talk about athletic limits. It's not the idea of academic differentiation that bothers me, it's the idea of allowing kids to differentiate themselves by spending an unhealthy number of hours on schoolwork. It trickles down and raises the amount of time required for everyone.


14 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:26 am

From Challenge Success on AP course limits (Web Link)

Assuming your school has an effective process for course enrollment that includes consultation with teachers and guidance counselors, and assuming you also have a safety net in place that allows for course re-assignment midstream if students need to transfer out of AP courses, don’t cap or limit the number of AP classes in which students are permitted to enroll. We have found that there is no magic number or formula for determining the optimal number of AP courses for students. As mentioned above, our research shows that stress levels in students are not necessarily correlated to the number of AP classes they take.


13 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

@ S mom

If you do not have a child in HS yet then you should hold your comments first with "I think" "I heard". How much homework is too much is not defined by how many hours kids spend on homework....we need to educate our child to focus on homework first than multitasking with FB, chatroom talks while doing homework that unhealthily stretched homework time by Nx hours. You will learn when your kids are in HS. I can assure you that teacher at both Gunn and Paly are great! Great teachers and students are making the difference for this school district, NOT admins, they only create issues and problems to ask for more budget and salary increase and that's the reason we have a deficit now.

Back to your athlete comments. Why athletes are not stressed? Its again "I think" If you have a kid in athletic path like I do, you will know they have to put up 14-20 hours a week on practice and competition, equivalent 3 AP classes workload. Before the game, they panic just like kids in academic heading to the exams; When they win, they happy just like kids scored high in math exam; when they lose, they cry just like kids did poorly in Chemistry exam. While kids stressed out in competition and shown emotion on win/lose in games, we told them its part of the grown up process to be strong, resilient, and to build grits; while they react the same in academic, then you are telling them you have a "mental wellness" issue??

Just like you recommended to set the limit on AP/H classes a student could take, why not to also set the scoring limit on Gunn/Paly football game, every game from now on should be a TIE, otherwise district is creating stress that could develop to "mental wellness" syndrome to the losing team. Happy childhood preserved !


13 people like this
Posted by There must be something else
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:46 am

As simple and logical as reporting wGPA for all students should be, I wonder if there are other forces behind the scenes fighting against it.

We know that the whole argument about minimizing stress is just BS because our kids would feel more stressed out not knowing whether or not the hard work they put into AP classes would be formally acknowledged if schools didn't report wGPA.

Are our schools administrators facing some type of pressure not to report wGPA because some influential families in the district feel their kids wouldn't fare well in the more transparent world of wGPA? Let's not be naive, and tell it like it is.


12 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@There must be something else - Yes, it is that weighted GPA shines a light on the gap between the top students, and the underrepresented/underperforming students. It is very troubling that instead of focusing on bringing those kids up, administrators and teachers are trying to hide the gap, or worse, handicap the top kids (see those discussing dropping AP classes).


Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park

on Nov 3, 2016 at 3:07 pm


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3 people like this
Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 3:25 pm

@ Gunn Parent

My comment does include a number of "I thinks", which was intentional. My impressions of what it's like for high school students here are based on what my friends and neighbors with high school kids tell me, as well as all the news coverage. But, I will note that I went to Stanford, and played a sport there, so I understand something about academic and athletic achievement, merit, hard work, and stress. I worked in high school, but I didn't spend hours every evening on homework. My high school only had a few AP and honors options. It sounds like kids today in Palo Alto have it way, way worse than I did, and that makes me sad for them.

I'm not saying we should eliminate all stress or competition from our kids' lives so that everyone gets a trophy, my main concern is giving them back TIME. I think we have a race to the bottom (or the top, but to me it's more like the bottom) over the amount of time kids can spend piling on AP classes. From what I hear, the amount of time homework required for a competitive AP coarse load is extraordinary. Maybe I'm wrong and most kids don't spend much time on homework, or as you say, maybe they are just being inefficient. I'm just waiting to hear an explanation for why unlimited AP classes is best for the student population as a whole -- mostly people seem to defend it with "my kids loves taking lots of APs," and to me, that a few students thrive on an extreme academic challenge doesn't justify maintaining a system that has led to an overworked and overstressed high school population as a whole. I think we need to make choices that are good for the health and well being of the majority of the student population, even if some students can handle more. That's why schools have had to reconsider zero period. That's why we don't let kids take extra classes in the middle of the night, even though maybe some kids just love academics so much and really don't need all that much sleep. It is perfectly reasonable for us to set limits on how much work we think kids should take on in high school in service of other goals like health and free time and preserving a childhood.

Anyway, if nothing changes, I hope you're right that I'll be pleasantly surprised when my kids get to high school. I'm just so worried for them, and have the sense that almost all of our kids would be better off if we didn't let kids go overboard with their course load. Thanks for having a civil discussion by the way, it doesn't always go that way.


3 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:07 pm

@ S mom

Good to link with a Stanford alumni so we can debate with rationals. I missed all the good old times too and love to zip wines on the beach front of Santorini and getting suntanned, but that once a great democratic country Greece is in bankruptcy protection now. Its now 21th century, the world has changed and best described by the Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat". Being the first generation of internet age parents, we need to realign ourselves with new ideas and new set of values to guide our next generation to deal with this new world order. But I believe this is not the subject of debate here.

There is no scientific evidence showing that wGPA will cause an arm race to AP/H classes, please look into our website Web Link. Information there are very comprehensive and informative. Paly has been using UWGPA for years but % increase of students taking AP/H is way outpaced to Gunn (2009 - 2013 Paly increases 29.58%; Gunn increases 14.31%). Perception without in-depth data analysis could be very deceiving. Hope those data posted will help you to understand more on college application and handling HS student mental wellness.

Talking about deceving, Paly Principal misled her entire community by issuing an incorrect statement this morning on wGPA calculation. Parents are waiting for the release of the Nov 01 meeting video clip. She did not have the board and superintendent authorization to claim Paly to use UC/CSU methodology to calculate wGPA because one student board rep told the board UC/CSU methodology could not be accepted by common app. Gunn principal Dr.Hermann released a correct statement to her community this morning and Gunn used a very simple way of calculating weight GPA by adding a point to AP/H classes and including all classes taken from 9-12 midterm. UC/CSU only covers 10-11 grades and limited to 8 semesters of weighted grades which does not accurately reflect the student academic performance thus does not applicable to Common App. UC/CSU methodology could potentially making WGPA lower than UWGPA but this is NOT the methodology should be used for common app.

We have heard students at Paly are scared of being told by their teachers that if they support wGPA their GPA will be lowered, but without telling them the whole story. After Dr.Hermann released her statement, Gunn parents are in peace now but we are asked by Paly parents for help. Since we have already stand by Maya, we will rally our school community with hundreds of Gunn parents behind Paly parents to fight all the way till the truth is revealed !


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Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:16 pm

@ Gunn Parent

Thanks. As I implied in my initial comment, I don't have a strong opinion on weighted GPAs. I don't think anyone is hiding the true meaning of a GPA by not weighting them, and if it truly helps some kids get past an initial applicant screening or qualify for a scholarship, then it seems like a reasonable decision to weight them (though, as I said, I don't fully understand the pros and cons here). My point was mainly that I thought we should consider limiting APs, whether or not we weight GPAs, and that doing so might alleviate some of the concerns people have about weighting them.


3 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm

"My point was mainly that I thought we should consider limiting APs"

You are near alone in that view at this point. Challenge Success (the anti-stress people at Stanford) found "there is no magic number or formula for determining the optimal number of AP courses for students. As mentioned above, our research shows that stress levels in students are not necessarily correlated to the number of AP classes they take."

Given this, hopefully we can move on from a one-size-fits-all thinking about kids and APs. Ask kids about what really stresses them - we don't need to guess.


3 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:31 pm

@S mom

How about broadening the scope of AP classes offering to include more liberal art courses? How about training our parents and students to select right amount of AP classes they love to go deep in the subject and providing a 1 point extra credit as safety net. Its Econ 101, limiting is never a good idea - limiting house supply you will create a price bubble.


3 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:32 pm

@ S mom

How about broadening the scope of AP classes offering to include more liberal art courses? How about training our parents and students to select right amount of AP classes they love to go deep in the subject and providing a 1 point extra credit as safety net. Its Econ 101, limiting is never a good idea - limiting house supply you will create a price bubble.


2 people like this
Posted by Terman parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

What is the issue at Terman? The open forum was full of concern with a culture of mistrust and firing of Veronica.


5 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:09 pm

@Gunn Parent

I second that. School can consider offer more APs in non-Stem areas like liberal art courses. It doesn't make sense to not offer weighted grade for the AP classes they offer only because they offer less number of AP classes in other areas.


10 people like this
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:17 pm

@S Mom

I don't like the ideas of limiting AP classes. Like you don't limit how many sports a kid can choose to play. Taking AP class indeed demands lots of time and effort, playing sports and participating in other activities do too. I believe in our kids, they should good judgement about how many APs they would like to take and in which areas. Offering APs in our high school just means choices for our kids. We are proud to say that we have 100+ clubs in our high school, since that means choices for our kids.


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Posted by S mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:38 pm

@ Paly Parent

It sounds like the Challenge Success people are basing their recommendation on a study that didn't show that the number of AP courses correlated with the stress level (e.g., kids taking 1 AP course were still stressed out). Maybe they have more to go on than that, but to me that cannot be the end of the story, data-wise. You need a study that looks at stress levels at a school before and after implementing AP limits. Maybe the 1-AP kid is stressed because now she won't get into a great college like those 4-AP kids. Maybe kids do tend to take more or fewer APs based on their ability to handle them, but all of them are still more overworked and stressed than they need to be.

This would be a big change, and I'm not an expert. I am probably failing to consider a number of problems with setting limits. I just hope people are considering and researching big ideas for addressing student stress that don't rely on the vague hope that students and parents will just exercise self-restraint because it's good for them.


11 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Some stress at HS time is good to student mental growth and how much is too much is very individualized. Current PA schools practice in my personal opinion is good enough - beyond 2 AP classes in a school year requiring more discussions with counselor and parent involvement and consent. We are thinking of creative ways of helping HUR students by assigning community service hours or extra credits to their AP/H classmates who are willing to help. So we are all gap up together.

I recalled in one town hall meeting, one mum from Duveneck area mentioned her experience of raising children in PAUSD. Kids were pampered in elementary school, then again in middle school like a frog been cooked in a warm water; once they are in HS with kids also from private schools and international schools, they have been fully cooked and won't be able to jump out. One day our kids will be at colleges filled with students from allover the world, have we prepared them ready to face the reality? That's why US department of education is asking for 1-2 AP classes to prepare HS students college ready. Gunn is ranked No.1 in this category in CA and Paly No.15.


11 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 10:54 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Gunn Parent - it is definitely true that the elementary schools are now taking such a soft approach with kids that they are ill prepared when real work arrives. Unless you are supplementing (and you shouldn't have to) your kids are neither going to have the knowledge, nor work habits to cope in high school.


13 people like this
Posted by weakly reader
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 4, 2016 at 8:12 am

Paly should use the Gunn model. It helps more students get ahead. Interesting that Gunn has been more student friendly all along.


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Posted by weakly reader
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 4, 2016 at 8:14 am

Terman parent. That subject needs a new thread.


7 people like this
Posted by Teacher Evaluations Should Be Annual Practice
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

Teacher evaluations at the middle and high school levels should be standard practice annually. Evaluations can be designed and implemented in a way to provide longitudinal and constructive student feedback on the teachers. By "longitudinal" I mean the focus is on overall how a teacher is evaluated across several years. Isolated criticism or compliment does not matter so much a pattern of either.

Why do teachers get a free pass (and demand so much) when most professionals get evaluated every year?

One reason students in PAUSD use tutors is because teachers do not know how to teach or they count on private tutors to do their job.

Evaluations help them know their problems and hopefully they'll improve. And if they get good evaluations, keep up the good work.


18 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2016 at 11:58 am

I find this whole thread to be disgusting and perhaps a prime example of why the CDC had to come to our community to investigate the ongoing 'cluster".

As a parent of a child entering PALY, I am freaked out. Not because I'm worried that he should be at Gunn because X,Y,and Z, nor because one school has fractionally higher, or that the AP classes are marginally better, or that this weighted grades versus non will somehow handicap my child so that god forbid he has to go a state school (the horror), but rather I am going to have listen to 4 more years of this type of debate carried out by other parents.

This seems no different than that parent we have all seen trying to vainly live out their little league dreams by coercing/berating/bullying their children into athletics.


7 people like this
Posted by 2017parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 6:32 pm

The School board made a mistake in voting on an issue that had not been fully investigated, in terms of long/short term implications. When voting on weighted or unweighted, they didn't specify a system(UC/CSU, Gunn). This only leads to more ambiguity and less consistency across schools. In addition, it's too late for class of 2017. This is something to be grandfathered in for Freshman starting out, so they can choose their classes according to how they will be evaluated verses "surprise" at the end of their journey senior year. Shame on the school board for being so short sighted.


16 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Paly should just use the Gunn method. Every kid's GPA would be the same or higher, and it is the same as 90% of other schools. No one gets hurt, and some kids are helped. Why is this a big deal?


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