News


Paly pushes back on school board's weighted GPA decision

Principal: Data indicates 'many' students could be disadvantaged by weighted average

Despite a unanimous school-board vote to report weighted grade point averages (GPAs) on current high school seniors’ mid-year transcripts earlier this week, district Superintendent Max McGee and Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio wrote in an email to the board Thursday that administrators are "reconsidering the necessity" of doing so.

Paly will not be sending transcripts with weighted GPAs to schools that seniors applied to early unless students make a written request, Diorio wrote in a message sent to Paly students Friday afternoon. Staff plans to bring a new short-term proposal to the next board meeting on Nov. 15, despite the fact the board approved a short-term solution — report the weighted GPAs for current seniors in January, and determine a longer-term plan later on — on Tuesday.

The memos came after Diorio said she worked with the district’s technology staff to determine how many students would be disadvantaged if the school reported their weighted GPA.

The data were "compelling," Diorio wrote, but she did not specify how many students would be disadvantaged.

McGee, in his weekly memo to the board, stated that adding weighted grades to seniors' transcripts "is not in the best interest of several students."

McGee referenced the fact that Paly and Gunn use different methods to calculate weighted GPAs. Paly uses the University of California/California State University weighting system, which doesn't count ninth-grade courses nor non-UC approved courses.

Gunn High School uses its own method.

McGee wrote that out of 474 Paly seniors, 269 students would have higher weighted GPAs using Gunn’s methodology and 205 students would have a higher average with the UC/CSU system.

"This is not a simple matter," he wrote.

In her message, Diorio reassured students that no action would be taken before the next board meeting and apologized "for the confusion and any anxiety this week has caused," she wrote.

"We love our seniors and have confidence that in the end, things will work out. Remember, 'college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.'"

Board President Heidi Emberling told the Weekly Friday that she didn't see Paly's stance on weighted grades as "backtracking" but rather "trying to figure out how to move forward with the board’s direction."

"The key for me is that no student is harmed by this decision," she said. "We wanted this year's seniors to have the benefit of the new guidelines. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the solution for this year and hoping that it will be flexible and supportive of student needs."

The board's vote Tuesday night has elicited strong responses from both sides of a suddenly heated debate. 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.

Those who were urging the board to report weighted grades to aid students in both scholarship opportunities and college admissions saw the vote as a victory. Others continue to be concerned about the potential harm the new practice could cause for students' mental health and well-being, while others questioned what they described as a surprising "knee-jerk" reaction from the school board.

Three petitions were started before the meeting to support weighted GPAs, and another in opposition was launched the day after the board meeting.

McGee wrote in his memo that he will make a recommendation to the board on what the district should report on students' transcripts in the long-term before April 1. He plans to solicit community input to inform that recommendation through public meetings and online webinars, according to his memo.

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Comments

40 people like this
Posted by buffoons
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Ridiculous that the board made the decision so quickly. Catering to a vocal minority at the meeting was clearly a poor decision. For all of the attention on every single one of these decisions, it's mind blowing that the board cannot develop a decision making process that makes sense.


21 people like this
Posted by Jana
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 4, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Just a thought: listen to students, teachers, and parents affected.
?!


79 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Meanwhile, at Gunn, the Board's direction is simply being implemented without drama, and the principal is pulling the community together.

The Paly admins are dead set against this, and determined to undermine it. The UC/CSU weighting system doesn't make sense here, as was pointed out at the board meeting. Gunn's method, similar to what is done at most schools, works fine, and could easily be implemented at Paly, with the effect of every student having either the same or higher weighted GPA.

But rather than just doing that and moving on, they (with McGee) are determined to tie this process in knots, undermine the board, and deepen the mess they started. Perhaps McGee and Diorio are just auditioning for their next jobs.


77 people like this
Posted by Senior
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2016 at 6:53 am

@resident I couldn't agree more- as a current PALY senior, no one seems to be working on my behalf! It is PALY admin ego and digging their heels in - Diorio does not know how to lead at all and bows to the teacher lobby! Who is here for students? Most schools around us report weighted GPA! But misplaced ideas about stress causes drama here. It is STRESSFUL to know my Principal and district is ok with letting her shallow ideas decide about my fate!


5 people like this
Posted by Not involved
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 5, 2016 at 9:19 am

Can't students report their weighted gpa on their application, and have Paly back up their claim with notes explaining gpa calculation along with every transcript?


55 people like this
Posted by Why does PALY use the UC/CSU method for GPA reporting?
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 5, 2016 at 9:26 am

Why does PALY use the UC/CSU method for GPA reporting? is a registered user.

Almost 80% of PALY students do NOT attend a CSU or UC school, so why on earth is that the method for calculating GPA?


42 people like this
Posted by Who is in charge?
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2016 at 10:03 am

So the school board makes a decision earlier in the week, asks the the highly paid administrators to implement it so that hard working students get their fair recognition, but then the superintendent and Paly principal say no, screw you, we won't do it?

Those of us who work in the corporate world without the benefit of unions know what's next after such an act of mutiny. Time to update the resume and find another job. Both for the administrators and the toothless board.


Like this comment
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Not involved - sure, students should just self report GPA, no issues there.


37 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2016 at 11:05 am

The unspoken issue here is that UC admissions are becoming increasingly competitive. Thread on PA Weekly shows our city knows just how competitive UC admission is. Web Link


The percentage of District students attending UCs is declining over time. Percentage attending the less competitive CSUs is flat. The shift is to public out of state colleges. 7% shifted from UCs to out of state colleges from 2008 to 2014 (2015 data from District is not final).

For admission, public out of state colleges do not typically recalculate submitted GPA (weighted or unweighted) and typically give automatic merit scholarships based in large part on GPA. The issue is not isolated to University of Oregon. Across public and private colleges nationwide, only 50% recalculate GPA at any point in the admission process. Web Link; Web Link

Even the UCs recalculate their own unweighted GPA and fully weighted GPA (which includes MORE honors and AP classes than PALY includes).

The GPA submitted on the transcript is intended to 1) quickly allowed busy admissions offices to get a view of our students and 2) for Common App colleges (approximately 700 public and private) to allow a cumulate GPA to be submitted, weighted or unweighted. It would be fantastic if every college would take a holistic look at our kids, but they don't have the time and they don't do it. So, the wGPA helps move some of our students, especially those not right at the top, who have taken honors and AP classes, into the visibility window of college admissions.

The UC/CSU GPA is an admission processing tool for a set of colleges to which a minority of our students attend. The Gunn weighted GPA is much more typical, very similar or the same as our local neighboring schools and our 21st Century Consortium schools. Let's use it and move on to big issues like:

-getting more students into honors and AP classes
-getting more of our students to meet the UC approved A-G requirements (this number has been declining to roughly 85%)
-getting more of our students to attend at least 2 year college, 9% attend no college


2 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2016 at 11:07 am

Dear Not Involved,

Good question:

No students cannot recalculate their own weighted GPA.

The transcript and Common App process, as well as the UC process, are all electronic. The students even get their results online.


7 people like this
Posted by tired of misinformation
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

@resident -
the board did try to implement the Gunn policy at both schools. Then Diorio pointed out to the board that if they did that, the Paly senior who brought this to the board in the first place would still not qualify for the merit scholarship.
So the board then changed course and decided each school should keep its current weighting system (presumably so this student could qualify for the scholarship).
So clearly Gunn's system doesn't give everyone a higher weighted GPA. And, no, Diorio doesn't seem to have some ulterior motive.
I am amazed at how much ranting happens with partial information.


34 people like this
Posted by Grammarian
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2016 at 12:42 am

People, it's spelled "Paly", not "PALY" in all caps, which would mean it's an acronym (each letter stands for a word). "Paly" is a nickname. For such an intellectual community, I am appalled at this common error.

"We love our seniors and have confidence that in the end, things will work out. Remember, 'college is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.'"

Sorry, Diorio, you are a nice person but misinformed. What if the perfect match is unattainable because the GPA is too low due to unweighted GPAs on transcript? Shouldn't the students be given every advantage possible? Shouldn't Paly have their backs and want their students to succeed? Wait 15 years till your children grow up and you'll understand. College admissions are so competitive now that we NEED weighted GPAs on the transcripts to be competitive. And not just UC weighted since it is so difficult to be gain admission into most of the UCs (besides Merced, but no one wants to be in the boon docks). The AP classes are difficult and students should be recognized. I don't think you realize just how difficult AP courses are. I suggest you sit in on a couple of classes for a semester, and not the soft AP classes, the core classes. Then, maybe you'll understand how the students feel. Try doing the homework without a tutor, and you'll start to understand the situation better.

Freshman GPA profiles: UCB (4.12 - 4.30); UCLA (4.12 - 4.30); UCSD (4.00 - 4.27); UCSB (3.92 - 4.23); UCD (3.95 - 4.25); UCI (3.93 - 4.22); UCSC (3.65 - 4.09); UCR (3.52 - 4.00); UCM (3.37 - 3.88).

[Portion removed.]


43 people like this
Posted by Senior Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

I am so disappointed and disheartened by Kim Diorio- she used to be a counselor for heaven's sake. At this point, she is not having her way and is having a tantrum...at the expense of my Senior son's future! Why doesn't PALY uses Gunn's system of weighted GPA instead of UC system? Have they checked what difference it will make if Gunn's system was used? What is this about a student requesting in writing to get weighted GPA reported-it perpetuates inequity- if I am a parent who does not know my way around school or am disempowered- my child will not have weighted GPA- how elitist can Kim get? Goes to show that the district pays lip service to achievement gap but administrators like Kim Diorio are a big part of this problem. Meanwhile my Senior son is more stressed beacuse his school does not have his back.


5 people like this
Posted by Trying to be helpful...
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

Some info maybe of help?
1) the only benefit from weighted grades on transcripts that can be substantiated by real data is to qualify for scholarships to colleges that will not accept an official letter from the high school indicating student's weighted gpa and for students who feel a sense of recognition from the weighting. This does not impact your student's chances at admissions. If you have evidence from a college that they do not recalculate the transcript and just look at whatever is higher, no matter the unique weighting scheme of the high school, get that evidence IN WRITING, officially from the college and send it to the board, your student's counselor or TA and your school's principal.
2) if your paly student wants paly's weighting on the transcript for a current application, they just need to ask.
3) high schools everywhere submit a variety of weighting schemes. They all have to include a key explaining it. So a kid with a 3.8 out of a 4.0 isn't being falsely compared to a kid with a 4.8 out of 5 or 5.8 out of 6.
4) paly's TAs and Gunn's Guidance have to indicate when they fill out the Common App or the Counselor's letter how rigorous the student's course load was (average to most demanding)

Hope this helps!


15 people like this
Posted by Embarrassing
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2016 at 3:40 pm

You would think Diorio had done her homework and figured out how many students might be disadvantaged and shared that info before the school board made the decision. Just common sense.


7 people like this
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@ Embarrassing

Mrs. Diorio does her homework - that's why she was able to speak cogently to the impact that this decision might have. It's called preparation, and if YOU needed more data before weighing in with your elected officials, the PAUSD BOE, a request for such data at the meeting would have been a good step.

Democracy is NOT a spectator sport. Insisting that we citizens have ALL the information before allowing a vote to proceed is part of our collective duty.

Respectfully,

gb


Like this comment
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2016 at 7:18 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

@ Grammarian

Most women recognize the phrase, "nice person" as a sexist comment - akin to the dismissive "nice lady" gig. Reasonable people can disagree - without resorting to bias.

Respectfully,

gb


Like this comment
Posted by No More Mr. Nice Guy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Is "he's a nice guy" also sexist? "Nice guys finish last?" "No more Mr. Nice Guy?" Here's an article on "Is Barack Obama a nice person" Web Link .

Try to watch out for "resorting to bias" - might want to check the mirror on that.



14 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:46 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@GraceBrown - While you seem like a nice person, I'm not sure you ALL the information, not does anyone. But there is definitely information enough to know the Kim D. is on the wrong side of the weighted grade argument. While she may also be a nice person, she wasn't able to make a strong case for her position, which is why parents had to intercede, and the board had to override her.


17 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

Unfortunately, the Board and the general public, including some parents, do not understand the pros and cons and the intricacies of this issue, but are fighting for what will benefit their kid and their friends' kids. They do not understand all of the systems already in place that indicate to colleges how rigorous their kids' classes are, and that most colleges are already weighting the grades , that weighting will actually hurt many many students, etc.

Because the Board had declared that they were not going to make a decision last Tuesday, many people on the "other" side of this issue saw no reason to speak up. The Board allowed the parents and students to protest for two hours, and kindly (hear the sarcasm) deigned to listen to the two high school principals for 10 minutes. At least the teachers got an honorable mention when McGee slipped in that 68% of Paly's tenured teachers signed a petition asking the Board not to make an immediate decision and to consider the downsides before taking action.

However, per usual, the Board listened to the parents who happened to be there (there were people CRYING over this) and even after they said IN THE MEETING that they weren't prepared to make a decision that night, THEY DID. Crazy. This governing body has such little understanding of the impact of their decision and rushed to appease the upset parents, ignoring the recommendations of teachers, counselors, and principals. Diorio and McGee were right all along, and now it will be proven so --- this decision impacts more than this faction's little darlings and has far reaching implications that the Board was too impatient and too emotional and too cowardly to consider. They are incompetent and I hope half of them get replaced in the election on Tuesday.

Regardless of your position on this particular issue, the decision making process should concern you greatly.


3 people like this
Posted by reaction
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:17 am

@Embarrassing,
You would think the board would have done their homework and asked how many students might be disadvantaged and made a decision based on that info before pushing through yet another ill-informed decision. Just common sense.


29 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

@Teacher, the main person I saw crying at the board meeting was Terry Godfrey, who cried at length on the dais. Personally I find that inappropriate, and am grateful that her colleagues handled the issue with more professionalism.

The board never said they would not make a decision - in fact, they explicitly said they would make at least a short-term decision by Nov 1, and the straw vote on Oct 18 indicated which way it would go. McGee and Diorio (and perhaps others) proceeded to mislead the Paly community, including McGee's incredible email implying to parents that a community advisory committee was a done deal (the board rejected it 5-0). If you feel misled, don't blame the board (which was clear), blame McGee and Diorio, who have badly mishandled this from the start.

FWIW, Gunn's Simple GPA Weighting does not hurt anybody, all GPA's go up or stay the same, and is the most common system used by other schools. Gunn is implementing the Board's policy smoothly, without drama, and is moving forward. It is telling that Paly cannot do the same - if they adopted Gunn's approach, we could move on to more important issues.


3 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:33 am

I am confused. How can designating weighted credit for honors classes actually subtract gpa points from any kids gpa? I was told there was not math in public forums, but I just do not get it. The UC site says that if the credit is designated as honors, then the student can claim 2 points for soph. none for freshman and 8 semesters in total. I do not see any points taken off. Am I missing something. I can only imagine that the kids that just took normal classes may not stack up the same as kids with honors or ap classes, but there is no class standing reported so I am really not understanding how "several" students were put at any disadvantage. Perhaps electives are thrown out? Any answers?


28 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:39 am

@outsider, the UC/CSU weight only includes 10th and 11th grades, excludes a variety of elective and required courses, and caps the number of courses counted. So yes, your wGPA can go down. It is a particular calculation for a very narrow purpose, and definitely not the right one to use to support kids applying to colleges, especially since the primary issue here is out-of-state public colleges.

Gunn's Simple Weighting Method, on the other hand, works for everyone and the reported wGPAs only go up or stay the same. It is what the vast majority of other high schools do. Can we just get with the program?


24 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 10:03 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Teacher - OK, you have an audience, explain how the Gunn weighted grade system "will actually hurt many many students". I've read the position papers, listened to the speakers, and there is no good case against weighting.


Like this comment
Posted by Trying to be helpful
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 10:31 am

Some questions you might ask going forward:

1) Will the GPA be reported as out of 4.0? If it's cumulative AND weighted, it should be out of a number higher than 4.0, correct? In a cumulative, weighted system, 4.0 is no longer the highest GPA possible--that's dependent on the number of weighted honors and AP courses available. If it's a weighted and cumulative gpa and it isn't out of a number higher than 4.0, ask why. The fidelity of the transcript system is very important--especially since this discussion is getting a lot of press. It's tempting to claim that 3.9 out of 4, when it's actually a 3.9 out of 4.3 (or whatever), but it'll be obvious with the number of students we have applying everywhere what the actual highest GPA is.
2) Ask how (website, program, etc) the staff is calculating the weighted GPA--is this a trustworthy calculator? Is it accurate? You don't want your student's GPA to inaccurately reported (lower OR higher).

Hope this helps!


Posted by jet pilot
a resident of Stanford

on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:47 am

jet pilot is a registered user.


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11 people like this
Posted by Carl Thomsen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Is this the Palo Alto Unified School District or the Paly Unified School District and the Gunn Unified School District? If the Superintendent and administrators think that the current Paly approach is the best then they should tell Gunn to change their approach to match what Paly is currently doing. I haven't seen that proposal from anyone so apparently the Gunn approach isn't a problem. I'm pretty sure I know what the response would be from Gunn parents and students (and probably the principal and staff) if they were told to adopt Paly's current grade averaging and reporting methods.


30 people like this
Posted by Support our Students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Support our Students is a registered user.

The majority of Bay Area high schools have weighted GPAs, even Gunn. In fact, Gunn appears to have a better weighting system so why not just adopt that. How can PAUSD justify having two different systems? Not having a weighted GPA reduces or prevents some students from getting scholarships. It also results in some students getting screened out early in the admissions process because they are comparing Paly unweighted GPAs to other schools weighted GPAs, before later rounds of screening where they normalize the GPAs. Paly should not handicap our students chances to get into good universities and colleges.


2 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I do not think most are understanding that because the staff decided not to designate classes as honors on the UC website, seniors can never claim the net worth of their honors classes they took. No letter will make up for this nor will relabeling which years the high school wants to weight. The standard for the rest of the world is the same as the UC system gpa for admissions is based on the summer after 9th- the summer after 11th grade. These transcripts should have both weighted and non weighted. Some larger universities are also using a students wgpa in comparison to their unweighted gpa from those same years as an initial getting in the door filter which seems unexpected.

@trying to be helpful- The UC system configures their UC wgpa based on their scale of 5.0 and only the designated honors or ap classes can be entered. Look at the UCOP a-g 9% calculator on the UCOP website. Most other colleges will reconfigure the gpa and not care about UC designated classes, only the PALY transcript. UC has given the CA schools the option to pad their grades so they will not look quite as evil for taking the higher tuition from out of state and international students. PALY will have to do this or put their students out of the running for not only UC admissions, but special programs that really are special. Without the UC grades being weighted properly, PALY kids wanting to get into UC programs will have to get all A's, take extra classes and then the UC still will be reach schools because other highs schools have more UC designated honors classes available to all studen
ts. All energy and aggression should be directed at the UC system that has failed its CA residents who have supported them. No one should have to do so much math.


Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park

on Nov 7, 2016 at 12:57 pm


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31 people like this
Posted by Glad to be at Gunn
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Gunn high school has been handling this in a straight-forward professional manner.

The board's decision to report both unweighted and weighted GPAs on the transcripts was a GOOD DECISION. If done appropriately (see Gunn and most other high schools), no student's GPA will go down in the weighted scenario.

Unfortunately, the UC system has crafted an unnecessarily complex and archane method of weighting only a fraction of the student's transcript. Paly choosing to stick with this method is what puts some students at a disadvantage.

It is true the two methods of weighting can result in different GPAs. Thus for scholarships with a specific GPA cut-off, one method of weighting may be more advantageous than the other.
Personally, I hope Gunn HS sticks with its method. And it would be nice if Paly admin would get off their high horses and be willing to learn from their community.


1 person likes this
Posted by Trying to be helpful
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:16 pm

@Outsider:

Yes, the college admissions process is really putting our students through the ringer. Part of the confusion is also the specialized vocabulary in play.
1) The UC/CSU gpa is the "capped weighted"--meaning (as you point out in your comment) it's 10th-11th grade, A-G courses limited/capped only to 8 semesters. Yes, this is out of 5.0.
2) "Cumulative weighted" might refer to the Gunn process of putting the cumulative weighted GPA on the counselor's report. Is this out of 5.0?
3) Cumulative unweighted refers to the Paly and Gunn process for the transcripts. (Gunn did not previously report weighted gpa on the transcript). This is out of 4.0.

Thanks for clarifying that language @Outsider!


11 people like this
Posted by The Dodo
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Disappointed in Diorio and McGee Again
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Disappointed in Diorio and McGee Again is a registered user.

Once a student makes his or her "match" merit scholarships are a very important "prize to be won" for many families like mine. My daughter's top choice school probably will accept her, but it is also highly probable she won't qualify for tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships that she NEEDS without a weighted GPA.

Eliminating wGPA will make her financial life unnecessarily stressful. Why do you need to phutz with this this year? This year's seniors have made many decisions about coursework based on existing grade reporting practices. My daughter's application deadline is Nov. 8. It is very late in the process to pull the rug out from under these kids. Please continue your existing policy through this year's applications --at minimum.

Changing policy in exactly the moment when they are applying to colleges induces stress in a process that is already ridiculously fraught with stress these days. It is, frankly, an obnoxious and inconsiderate thing to do to the kids.

There has not been adequate time to research this or to engage the public. This is another example of Dr. McGee and admin rushing through a change without proper vetting. Where is the research that supports your position that eliminating wGPA will reduce stress? What do the affected seniors this year think and feel about this? I think that will be your best indicator of how it will affect their stress.

Start LISTENING to the kids, please.


1 person likes this
Posted by Trying to be helpful
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 3:03 pm

@Disappointed

"Eliminating wGPA will make her financial life unnecessarily stressful. Why do you need to phutz with this this year? This year's seniors have made many decisions about coursework based on existing grade reporting practices. My daughter's application deadline is Nov. 8. It is very late in the process to pull the rug out from under these kids. Please continue your existing policy through this year's applications --at minimum."

-->If your child is a student at Paly, the practice will not change for the November 8th deadline unless your student specifically requests it. Paly will still report the unweighted, cumulative GPA as it always has.

-->If your child is a student at Gunn, the practice will not change for the November 8th deadline. Gunn will still report the unweighted, cumulative GPA on the transcript as it always had AND the weighted, cumulative GPA on the counselor's NACAC/rec form.

Hope this helps!



23 people like this
Posted by PAUSD parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Oregon Hillsboro School District board voted to change to weighted on Oct 25 and quickly implementing on Oct 31, 2016. The trend of reporting Weighted GPA is moving up a decade ago from 66%. Why closer to 80% of schools are trying to help their students while our Paly Principal and admin not?


13 people like this
Posted by Help needed
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm

@trying to be helpful

There are still chances for many students at Paly to gain scholarships and also surprisingly may help them on admission on first cut screen that heavily weighted on GPA. weighted accumulative GPA only go up (using Gunn method). Let's not only look oneself interest of his/her own child scenario but also the kids in need of scholarship and struggling at GPA boarder lines to make the cut of their dream colleges.


3 people like this
Posted by chilled speech
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Board members should not be pressuring student government like Melissa Baten-Caswell did with her unethical drop-in appearance at Paly chilling speech. If you have any information relevant to this ethical lapse and wish to discuss it with a journalist, please call Gonzalo at News 11 at 408 432-4780. Chilling speech to protect a candidacy of all things is so far beyond comprehension that this post is necessary. To follow up call!!! I urge you to get involved. NOW!


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:08 pm

@chilled speech - what happened and when?


3 people like this
Posted by chilled
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

She showed up to stop students from criticizing her approach to the grade issue, which, on its face, is an inappropriate act by a Trustee. Such actions need to take place in the sunlight of the public's full access.

On that basis alone, she needs to be asked point blank about what the purpose of her visit was if it was something other than that and then, why she felt it was okay to intimidate people with viewpoints other than hers by bringing herself onto campus into the student government offices carrying the full weight of her position as a Board member. It is unprecedented. A clear step over the line.

Thanks for the question.


3 people like this
Posted by chilled
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm



We can argue about the grade issue, fine, including the fact that hundreds of students' grades will lower if weighted grades are used, but who cares about middle class kids struggling to survive in the toxic, competitive PAUSD factory. What about the upcoming lawsuits when a college rescinds a rolling acceptance once an adjusted transcript is sent to the college? Oh well, we'll cross that lawyerly bridge.

I'll probably be on the wrong side of the outcome on this issue. It's happened before.

What riles me more is the arrogance of a Trustee (read the definition of this word) walking over to the school and intimidating speech for personal gain...to stifle speech. Can't sit by for that one.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

She showed up and defended her vote direct to students? In what kind of forum? Was she invited?


14 people like this
Posted by be positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:41 pm

be positive is a registered user.

I believe both Caswell and Godfrey have children who are Seniors at Paly who would be affected by this change in policy.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Wasn't Caswell the one who championed making the change? Did she help gin this up to help her own kid??


8 people like this
Posted by chilled speech
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2016 at 5:49 pm

resident...you got it...you too "be positive." You saw through the sham clearly.


7 people like this
Posted by Midtowners
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Midtowners is a registered user.

I see a lot of folks wanting the Board and Administration to listen to the students. It's pretty easy to get a feel if you are willing to spend a few minutes. It's a far more complicated issue than the loud voices would have you believe, and it's not a decision that should have been made in 2 makeshift weeks.

Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by Nit picking
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm

My children went to Paly. My oldest graduated with a weighted GPA on his transcript. My youngest graduated in 2014 without it. Paly had switched to unweighted GPA in between. So, it is not new this year. I wonder when the change was made.

I find this really interesting as my youngest was not admitted to some of the out-of-state universities that older Paly friends of his were admitted to with lesser grades. So, it could be that the change to unweighted GPAs on the transcripts was what made the negative difference.

Not happy at all in hind-sight, although he is very happy where he is now.


6 people like this
Posted by a group of Paly parents
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2016 at 10:40 pm

We highly respect and strongly support our principal, faculty, and staff at Paly. We greatly appreciate what Paly has done to our children.

Please refrain from using any insulting words when posting your comments.

Thank you!

a group of Paly parents


19 people like this
Posted by Marc Itzkowitz
a resident of University South
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:15 pm

This is very simple argument that has a clear "win-win" for all parties (students and systems) so I'm not sure why all the back-and-forth. The story goes:

- First, the decision has been made to report wGPAs as of the November Board meeting.

- At the November board meeting Principal Diorio pointed out that Paly's system of reporting wGPA (the less commonly used UC/CSU system) would lower some students' GPAs as compared to their unweighted GPA (this is NOT new news to the board nor the public and was fully understood at the meeting)

- Gunn's method does not have this deficiency and will either raise or maintain ALL student's unweighted GPA (this was also understood at the meeting).

- Therefore given that wGPAs are to be reported it makes sense to use the method that only helps students and that is Gunn's method.

- Since Gunn uses the same IT systems as Paly their method should transfer. In fact Superintendent McGee asked his IT person (during the meeting) if the systems could report on weighted GPA and he said that they could.

- And the Board asked to come back with a recommendation on approach for the next board meeting - VIOLA!

So everyone benefits. Anyone who says that there is still a problem is not being transparent about what their true concern is because none of their stated concerns hold water if you follow the logic above (and all of the information fully known at the time of the decision).

Students and systems are only helped by using the Gunn approach.


18 people like this
Posted by Another PALY Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Paly students were mislead by school admin and some teachers:

1. The board NEVER promised no change this year.

In fact, the board asked for more information on 10/18 meeting to make a decision on 11/1. But BEFORE the board even have meetings, Paly PTSA sent an email on 10/13 that stated:

'As parents, we ask that you please share with your teen that for this school year, nothing will change. Anything about this issue will not affect the class of 2017.”

2. The 11/1 MORNING meeting to gather input has NOTHING to do with the board.

It was initiated by the superintendent and two principals and then cancelled by them, without any explanation.

3. UC/CSU weighted GPA that Paly use is NOT ACCEPTED by any other colleges.

But, PALY Admin never mentioned it. UC/CSU wGPA did not include 9th grade courses nor courses not on UC a-g list, like PE, and some electives. That makes UC/CSU wGPA not cumulative and CANNOT be used on common application.

4. PALY Admin know but never reveal: EVERYONE will have a higher or same wGPA than uwGPA under any cumulative weighted GPA calculation.

So, the 50 HUR students and others will NOT have a lower wGPA than uwGPA if Gunn's method is adopted.

PALY admin never clarifies the points above to students, but just utilized the confusion to support their own agenda.

Everyone can have different opinions, but let other people take the blame of your mistake is unethical!


10 people like this
Posted by Marc Itzkowitz
a resident of University South
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Correction for "tired of misinformation" above who said:

"Then Diorio pointed out to the board that if they did that, the Paly senior who brought this to the board in the first place would still not qualify for the merit scholarship."

To clear up this misinformation the mother of that student has written on a local discussion group that she would like to see Paly implement the Gunn method so Principal Diorio's point doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Oh and both the mother and the Paly Senior were present when Principal Dioro pointed that out.


16 people like this
Posted by Who are creating competition on campus?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 8, 2016 at 12:03 am

I always wonder why some people refer PALY as "cutting-troat competition". My daughter has hundreds of friends at Paly, including white, black, Asian, and hispanic students. She got support from friends whenver she needs and would stay up late to help friends, too.

Then I saw the position letter from the principal, counselors, and teachers:

1. The principal stated weighted GPA will lead to Ranking.

Not true. Gunn has been reporting weighted GPA on common app and removing Ranking at the past years.

2. The counselors told students that they are compared to their friends at Paly for college admission.

Again not true. Most colleges use rolling based admission and can't compared applicants from the same school. In fact, many colleges, including MIT, Columbia, Princeton,,,, stated clearly about this policy. MIT said 'We do not read your application along with other students from your school or region to compare you against each other.

3. Our humanity teachers told students that their weighted GPA will be lower than STEM students because there are more STEM AP/honors.

Not true, many STEM honors do not have weighted grade, like Bio H, Chem H, Geometry H, Algebra2/Trig H, and they have prerequisites that not everyone can meet.

I wonder who are creating competition on campus?


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Posted by Misinformation
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:39 pm

@Who are creating competition on campus?
Where are you getting this misinformation? MIT, Columbia and Princeton do not using rolling admission; it's easy to verify specific deadlines on their websites. And, not sure about MIT, but it's easy to find the regional admissions territories listed on Columbia's website and Princeton has a regional rep, too; these are the admission people who are familiar with Palo Alto High Schools so they can read applications in that context.


3 people like this
Posted by A Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2016 at 4:18 am

@Misinformation,
There are several thousands universities and colleges in US. Not everyone of them familiar Palo Alto High School. Not everyone of Paly students will apply Princeton, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, etc ivy league schools. Most of Paly students will apply non-ivy league schools and complete with other students from different schools with weighted GPA. With report weighted GPA, it will make sure paly students compete with others at the same plan field.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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