The weight of weighted: Administration proposes eliminating weighted GPA


Credit: WSPN Staff

In two weeks, WHS is planning to propose the removal of weighted GPA. If successful, students beginning with the Class of 2022 will not be reported on by this metric.

Kevin Wang

Principal Allyson Mizoguchi and guidance department coordinator Marybeth Sacramone will meet with the Wayland School Committee in two weeks to propose a plan to eliminate weighted GPA from WHS.

Mizoguchi stated that the proposal is a culmination of one and a half years of research and five to ten years of frustration. She hopes the committee comes to a decision by late spring. If passed, the first class to experience this change would be the current eighth graders, the Class of 2022. None of the current students at WHS will be affected by the change; their grades will be reported on by the weighted GPA.

Similarly to an unweighted GPA, weighted GPA collects a student’s grades and condenses them into a number. Unlike its counterpart, weighted GPA takes into account the rigor of a student’s courses; honors classes are worth more than college preparatory or introductory classes. For this reason, weighted GPA is graded on a 5.0 scale, while unweighted GPA caps off at 4.0.

According to Mizoguchi, there are three major proponents behind the proposal. First, that there is an increasing number of colleges who are recalculating a student’s GPA based on their own formulas. The administration conducted a survey among 112 colleges that WHS students applied to over the past five years, and it discovered that 63% of these colleges recalculate as opposed to solely looking at unweighted and weighted GPAs that WHS currently reports.

“The number we provide to colleges is kind of arbitrary when it comes to the decision making process because they recalculate anyway,” Mizoguchi said.

A potential concern from the abolition of weighted GPA is that students across the board will be assessed differently by colleges because evaluating the rigor of courses is eliminated; however, Mizoguchi claims that post-removal, colleges will judge a student’s academic success exactly the same.

We don’t want to unintentionally disadvantage our students when it comes to the college admissions process, that would be ridiculous.

— Principal Allyson Mizoguchi

“We don’t want to unintentionally disadvantage our students when it comes to the college admissions process, that would be ridiculous,” Mizoguchi said.

According to Mizoguchi, 98 percent of the 112 colleges surveyed report that during admission, they consider a student’s transcript, which includes the rigor of courses.

“98 percent are saying [the abolition] will not harm our students’ acceptance chances in any way,” Mizoguchi said. “We want to learn more about the two colleges that are saying [abolition] will hurt kids’ acceptance rates.”

The second reason behind the proposal is the ostensible explosion of electives offered at WHS.

“We are encountering a really exciting time at WHS where students have all kinds of choices as far as what kind of courses they want to take: business courses, science courses, innovation courses, tons of fine arts courses, attic archaeology,” Mizoguchi said. “A lot of these courses are not honors.”

Mizoguchi believes that the knowledge of whether or not an elective is honors or college level inhibits students from taking electives they are truly interested in.

“We’re afraid students are making decisions on what they want to learn and explore about based on whether it will or won’t impact their weighted GPA,” Mizoguchi said. “We want to remove that from the equation and more earnestly encourage students to take what they want to take.”

Senior Jaylen Wang, whose current schedule is comprised of five Advanced Placement courses and nothing else, concurs with Mizoguchi’s sentiment. Excluding the mandatory college history course in freshman year, Wang has only taken honors or AP level courses for core academics.

“I definitely think that removing weighted GPA would increase participation in [college] elective classes just because there’s no reason not to,” Wang said. “In the past, there was, ‘I don’t want to take a college elective course because it would lower my GPA,’ but with the weighted GPA removed there definitely would be [more participation].”

Sophomore Robert Glazer, who has taken a multitude of both honors and college courses at WHS, does not believe that more students will gravitate toward college electives post-removal because students do not consider weighted GPA much when selecting courses.

“I think when you’re applying for college, they’re going to pay attention to what classes you take no matter what your GPA is,” Glazer said.

I think when you’re applying for college, they’re going to pay attention to what classes you take no matter what your GPA is.

— Sophomore Robert Glazer

The final reason behind the proposal is to create more equity.

“Not all students will take an honors level class,” Mizoguchi said. “For those students, it is an advantage that we will never realize when it comes to a weighted GPA.”

Mizoguchi believes that there are factors other than hard work which affects a student’s level of academic success. She indicates that a grading mechanism such as weighted GPA that accounts for rigor unfairly evaluates students who work just as hard but are in college courses for other reasons.

“We have students who don’t take honors level and AP courses,” Mizoguchi said. “They’re in college level courses, they’re excelling, they are trying their hardest. They are experiencing a level of rigor that is totally appropriate for who they are as a learner, and they will never get that 5.0 boost.”

Weighted GPA has been reported at WHS for a very long time; according to Mizoguchi, it has existed “forever and ever.” However, Mizoguchi mentions that other high schools across the state are also moving toward abolition.

A summit was held in Wayland last year with many neighboring school districts to discuss the impact of weighted GPA on the student body and college admissions process. Districts included Lexington High School, which abolished weighted GPA ten years ago, Brookline High School, which never had weighted GPA, Lincoln-Sudbury, which had a movement to add weighted GPA but decided to remain without one, Belmont High School, which recently abolished weighted GPA and Concord-Carlisle and Sharon High School, which are thinking about abolition.

“They just said the college admissions process has not changed at all,” Mizoguchi said. “In fact, we see kids taking courses that they want to be taking that more accurately captures their interests. Students are making better decisions about what courses they want to be taking. It’s removed a level of competitiveness that is unhealthy for our school. It was very affirming to hear about that.”