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Guest opinions: Arguments for and against weighted GPAs

Paly seniors weigh in on district issue

As the school district resumes its discussion of the practice of reporting high school students' weighted grade-point averages (GPA), Palo Alto Weekly is publishing two opinion columns from Palo Alto High School seniors on the topic.

Superintendent Max McGee is expected to make a recommendation this spring on the district's long-term policy for weighted grades, subject to final approval by the school board. He is currently soliciting feedback from students, parents, teachers and staff through a series of public forums, starting Wednesday afternoon and extending till Feb. 13, as well as an online webinar and survey.

In November, the school board unanimously approved a short-term solution for this year's seniors: to report both cumulative unweighted and weighted GPAs on their official transcripts, giving an additional grade point for each honors and Advanced Placement class, as designated in the schools' course catalogs. The board also voted to give Paly seniors the option of reporting an additional weighted average calculated using the University of California/California State University method.

Paly has historically used the UC/CSU methodology for weighting, which doesn't count freshman-year and non-UC approved courses. Gunn uses 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.

In their respective guest opinions, Paly seniors Rima Parekh and Joelle Dong make arguments for and against reporting weighted grades.

Parekh argues that weighted grades will benefit students, particularly in admissions and scholarship eligibility, and would not harm their mental health and well-being. Dong argues that reporting weighted GPAs should be the exception, not the norm -- only for merit scholarships, to avoid sending the message that "numbers define my academic worth."

Click the links below to read their columns.

Guest opinion: Why I support reporting weighted GPAs

Guest opinion: Raise students, not GPAs

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The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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