by Amanda Hills
Beginning this school year, students’ weighted grade point averages (GPA) will be calculated on a five-point scale, whereas they were previously weighted on a nine-point scale.
College and career center counselor Brad MacGowan said that this school is the only school he knows of that used a nine-point scale.
“The new scale is much more understandable to colleges, scholarship organizations and others,” according to MacGowan. “We don’t want them to have to spend time trying to figure out our system, possibly misinterpreting it.”
He added, “College admissions people didn’t like the old system.”
This school has been talking about making this change for decades, but this year seemed an appropriate time to finally implement it because the school is already making other internal improvements, according to MacGowan.
He said that the difference in Advanced Placement and Honors class’ worth in the new GPA scale is not exactly proportional to their worth in the previous scale. But, he said, an exact proportion is impossible because switching scales “is not a formula,” and “there is no perfect GPA system.”
Furthermore, the majority of colleges recompute applicants’ GPAs to the five-point scale, so no matter what scale a particular high school uses, colleges will often see all GPAs on that scale, anyway, he said.
If students prefer, this school can send colleges a weighted five-point GPA and an unweighted four-point GPA, according to MacGowan.
Senior Tara Cabache said that because this school will send colleges both GPAs, “colleges still get an idea of what kind of student you are.” As a result, the change “really hasn’t affected me very much,” she said.
MacGowan said he thinks many students, like Cabache, will not feel tremendously affected by the new GPA scale.
But senior Kris Labovitch said that on the contrary, this revised system “screwed up my GPA.” He said, “I took a bunch of AP and Honors classes thinking that even with a lower grade, the higher levels would make up for it in my GPA.” Now, he said, the AP and Honors classes did not give him the boost he expected.