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Palo Alto school district to host series of weighted GPA forums

Superintendent seeking feedback to inform long-term recommendation

Students, parents and teachers who want to weigh in on the Palo Alto school district's long-term practice for reporting weighted grades can attend a series of public forums the school district is hosting on the topic, starting this week.

The subject of weighted grade-point averages (GPA) has been a contentious one this year, with students, parents, teachers and staff divided on the value of reporting the weighted grade amounts on high school students' official transcripts.

In November, the school board unanimously approved a short-term solution: to report both cumulative unweighted and weighted GPAs on current seniors' transcripts, giving an additional grade point for each honors and Advanced Placement class designated as such in the schools' respective course catalogs. The board also voted to give Palo Alto High School seniors the option of reporting an additional weighted average, as calculated by the University of California/California State University method. (Paly has historically used the UC/CSU methodology for weighting, which doesn't count any freshman-year classes or non-UC approved courses. Gunn, on the other hand, has used its own cumulative weighting method.)

While neither school reports weighted GPAs on students' official transcripts, Gunn counselors report the weighted average in counselor-report sections on college applications, while Paly's do not.

Superintendent Max McGee is now seeking public feedback before he makes a long-term recommendation to the board, which he has said he plans to do before spring break in early April. The board will have final approval on his recommendation.

There will be a forum for Gunn High School students this Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 3:15 p.m. in the school's staff lounge. A forum for Paly students will be held on Monday, Feb. 6, at 3:30 p.m. in the school's Media Art Center.

On Feb. 6, there will also be a community forum at Paly from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Media Arts Center. A second in-person community forum is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13, from 7-8:30 p.m. in Gunn's staff lounge.

The district will also host an online webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 7-8:30 p.m. To access the webinar, go to pausd.org.

In addition, the district is asking high school students, parents and staff to fill out a survey on weighted grades by Feb. 6. The survey results will also help inform McGee's final recommendation. The survey is available online.

The survey has an open-ended section for providing ideas for reporting weighted GPAs, but anyone with further feedback, questions or comments to share can email McGee at superintendent@pausd.org.

For more information about the forums, go to pausd.org.

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