Paly gives seniors option to report weighted GPA

Superintendent to discuss short-term options Tuesday

Palo Alto High School will now allow current seniors to choose whether they want to report their weighted grades given that close to 150 students would be disadvantaged by the practice, Superintendent Max McGee wrote in a summary for next week's board meeting. This is the latest modification to the school-board's decision about reporting weighted along with unweighted grade point averages for current high school seniors in the school district.

Gunn High School will report both unweighted and weighted GPAs on seniors' transcripts, as the board directed the high schools to do last week. Gunn counselors also will continue a practice of reporting the weighted average in a report section of the Common Application.

Paly pushed back on the board's decision after discovering that approximately 145 Paly seniors would have a lower grade point average using the weighted system.

While Paly uses the University of California/California State University weighting system, which doesn't count ninth-grade courses nor non-UC approved courses, Gunn uses its own methodology for calculating weighted GPA. Gunn seniors' weighted averages are either equal to or greater than their their unweighted, McGee said.

McGee told the Weekly Thursday that Paly has contacted all colleges and universities that seniors applied to for early decision to let them know the district is in the midst of changing its practice, and that applicants from Paly now have the option to report their weighted average.

As of Thursday afternoon, 38 out of 264 seniors who applied for early decision have requested that the school report their weighted GPAs, McGee said.

McGee will provide more information, including the difference between how Gunn and Paly calculate students' weighted GPA, during his "superintendent's report" portion of the board meeting on Tuesday evening. He will not discuss any long-term proposals, however "since we are still identifying the myriad questions, concerns, and unanticipated problems that various weighting systems must address," he wrote in his summary.

The district has also tentatively scheduled an online webinar on weighted grades for Tuesday, Nov. 28, 7-8:30 p.m. There will also be at least two board-meeting discussions to explore long-term solutions, McGee wrote.


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35 people like this
Posted by LAHparent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 10, 2016 at 5:22 pm

It needs to be pointed out that the way PALY calculates weighted GPA is completely different from Gunn. Under no circumstances Gunn's weighted GPA would be lower than unweighted, because you simply add one point to AP and H classes. Not stating this fact in your article creates a false equivalency and more misinformation for our community. We deserve better! Thank you.

6 people like this
Posted by Elena Kadvany
education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Nov 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

LAHparent: Thank you for pointing that out. The story does state that there is a difference between the two schools' methodologies for calculating weighted GPA, but I have added an explanation of that difference in the story.

31 people like this
Posted by Green Acres Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 10, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Reporting the UC/CSU weighted GPA on transcripts makes no sense! This GPA excludes freshman year, so it isn't accepted by many colleges. This should be enough to exclude it from consideration. Is this for students applying to UC? If so, it's silly for another reason: UC doesn't look at reported GPAs; they calculate GPAs themselves.

The obvious choice is "1/1", i.e. a weighted GPA of all classes the student has taken with one extra point for honors classes and one extra point for AP classes. This is the most common weighted GPA used by high schools in our area, including our very own Gunn. Aside from being universally accepted, it has the advantage of never being lower than the unweighted GPA. This isn't rocket science! Making weighted GPA reporting optional isn't the right answer; using the Gunn's calculation is.

This looks suspiciously like a straw man argument against reporting weighted GPAs. They're making weighted GPAs look bad by choosing the wrong one.

If you agree, sign the petition: Web Link

22 people like this
Posted by Angry parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm

This whole drama makes me super sad, and angry.

Elena Kadvany, can you please:
1. Explicitly explain what the difference is between the two weighted GPAs.
2. Point out that using the comprehensive weighted GPA used by Gunn would never result in a lower score.

If our superintendent and the Paly principle can't even figure this out, do they qualify for their jobs? This is just simple math! Simple facts!

If they already know and insist on pushing their own agenda, I wonder what their hidden agenda is!

I feel so helpless and beyond anger watching these people intentionally ignore the facts, ignore the data, ignore the parents' input, the students' input, and the school board's input, and furthermore, intentionally twist and mislead people, and do whatever they want!

24 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Dear Weekly,

Would you please provide more information about the utility of the Gunn 1/1 method (all classes, all grades and all named honors/AP classes weighted) vs. the Paly UC method (a-g class, grades 10 and 11, and excludes at least 4 honors classes).

For example, here are my thoughts:

So, why not just use the UC weighting?

1) It's not generally accepted. The Common App (almost 700 colleges and universities) only takes cumulative GPA, as do most non-Common App universities. UC weighting is just grades 10 and 11, not cumulative.
2) UC weighting is not even used by UC. UC has it's own system in which it looks at a student's a-g classes and from there calculates an unweighted UC GPA and at the more competitive UCs a fully weighted a-g GPA. Some UCs even calculate a 9-12 UC GPA.
3) UC weighting only gives the benefit of 4 honors/AP classes and excludes 4 classes offered by Paly (and Gunn) that are honors (GeoH, BioH, Alg2/TrigH and ChemH). The lack of weighting has nothing to do with the rigor of the classes and the homework load. It is simply how UC does things.
4) The number of kids attending UC/CSUs is declining every year. The CSU number has been flat at about 7%, but the UC number continues to decline (from 22% in 2008 to 15% in 2014 while out of state public has increased from 7% to 14% in the same period). We have to to be nationally focused in our admissions, as now more than 75% of our students do not attend UC/CSUs. And, in 2016, if the trend continues the percentage of students attending public out of state is likely to exceed the number of students attending UCs. Note also that the cost of out of state public is at least $60K more over 4 years and often $100K.

So, why use the Gunn weighting?

1) It's accepted by all colleges because it’s a cumulative gpa (includes all years and all classes the student has taken during high school.
2) The 1 point each for honors and AP cumulative weighting, known as 1/1, is commonly used by other schools (locally including Saratoga, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Mountain View, Menlo Park and Carlmont). Our
3) The 1 point each for honors and AP cumulative weighting, known as 1/1, is easy to communicate and calculate.
Gunn has been reporting the 1/1 on the Common App and has attached it to the transcript for over a decade without faults.

20 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

As many commenters have correctly pointed out, the Gunn method is NOT the same as the Paly method. The former does NOT result in a lower weighted GPA, and includes all years and all classes (PE, Art, Music...)

The day after the Board's unanimous approval to provide wgpa, the Paly principal used the UC method to "demonstrate" how wgpa would lower many students' gpa. Many Paly parents and students are mislead by this, thus advocating for unweighted gpa. We need to let the concerned parents and students know that the wgpa used by Gunn is NOT the one she used to prove her argument. Her demonstration seems disingenuous and used it to advocate for keeping gpas unweighted.

Please let our community know that there are multiple ways of calculating wgpa, and the one used to demonstrate a lowering of gpa is NOT the one used by Gunn.

25 people like this
Posted by 994
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 11, 2016 at 10:33 am

UC weighted GPA is what PALY dropped years ago. What did that mean? It meant it's redundant to UC and meaningless to colleges outside CA. Since PALY had dropped it why brings it up again in year 2016 when school board meeting decides to go with both GPA and Weighted GPA? Gunn has never dropped its way of helping students calculating Weighted GPA and has no issue with it. It's very clear that the Weighted method at Gunn is fair and clear. When it comes to alignment? Do we need more argument?
This is a beehive the school board created. Please fix it.

24 people like this
Posted by Incensed Paly Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Incensed Paly Parent is a registered user.

Paly Principal Kim Diori continues to spread misinformation, push her personal agenda, and cause divisiveness. With all the lip service around reducing stress, her actions as Paly Principal are unconscionable. This is NOT rocket science! Principal Diorio is making this issue unnecessarily divisive and stressful. Just do what Gunn does!!! It works! How hard can that possibly be?!

6 people like this
Posted by #SeniorParent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm

The board made a knee jerk decision based on a few squeaky wheels. The fact that only 14% of Early Action/Early Decision Seniors have asked for their transcripts to be amended speaks volumes in terms of importance. The board decided to make changes that effect the many to satisfy the few. I'm sorry to say Diorio then added salt to the wound. The whole point for the board's decision was to standardize the way Gunn and Paly report grades. By reporting UC weighted grades only creates more disparity. I understand why she did this because the board forced an almost impossible task on her at the 11th hour(after ED/EA applications were due). Where's the long term thinking here school board? The fact that some have been on the board for over 9 years and weren't even aware of the differing practices is preposterous. Then to add insult to injury the board decides to take a vote on an issue without considering the far reaching implications. If you are changing the way things are reported, students need to be advised at the start of their Freshman year so they can choose courses that will correspond to how they will be evaluated. You don't 'pull the carpet out from under' at the 11th hour to current seniors in the midst of applying to colleges. Too bad we couldn't turn the whole board over at the recent election.

12 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2016 at 3:36 am

To #SeniorParent,
"The fact that only 14% of Early Action/Early Decision Seniors have asked for their transcripts to be amended speaks volumes in terms of importance." I wonder if you have thought about maybe the reason only 14% of Early Action / Early Decision Seniors have asked for their transcripts to be amended is because seniors knew that paly uses CU/CSU way calculated weighted GPA is NOT accumulative GPA, it cannot be used for their school of choice? Maybe there will be a lot more seniors requesting their transcripts to be amended if their weighted GPA is calculated using Gunn's comprehensive accumulative weighted GPA? With Gunn's comprehensive accumulative weighted GPA, not single students weighted GPA will ever lower than their unweighted GPA. Any student has ever taken Honor and/or AP courses, his/her weighted GPA will be higher than his/her unweighted GPA.

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