Column: New GPA scale unfairly places less emphasis on high-level classes

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Jordan Robins” align=”alignright” width=”509″] This school should adopt this GPA system, which is the 9.0 scale placed in a 5.0 system, because it fairly weighs high-level classes.
by Perrin Stein
With the new grade point average scale, students are not rewarded enough for taking Advanced Placement and honors courses, and the extra effort necessary to do well in these challenging classes is not accurately portrayed.

Although the school needed to change its GPA scale from 9.0 to 5.0 in order to streamline the college process, there was no need to reduce the point differences between equivalent letter grades in each curriculum level because colleges do not take into account the specific weight given to each curriculum levels.

Many students recognize the unfairness of the scale change, and in last week’s Newtonite poll, 58 percent of students said they believe the new GPA system unfairly reduces the weight of AP and honors classes.

For example, with the new GPA scale, earning a B+ in an AP class is a 4.3, while an A in a curriculum I is a 4.5. In general, the effort and time required to earn a B+ in an AP class, which is college level, is nowhere close to one fifth of a point more than earning an A in a curriculum I class, which is a college-preparatory level.

In the old system, a B+ in an AP class was a 8.3, and an A in a curriculum I class was a 8.0. This 0.3 difference, when placed on the new 5.0 scale, is 0.2. In other words, the old scale weighed a B+ in an AP class versus an A in a curriculum I class more heavily than the new scale does.

As a result, students who take some curriculum I classes are likely to feel less motivated to challenge themselves with AP and honors classes because despite their more challenging course load, their GPA would not improve unless they received an A or an A- in the higher curriculum level class.

Similarly, students who take mostly curriculum II classes might feel less motivated to take more curriculum I classes.

There will always be people who disagree with a specific GPA scale. In fact, there are likely people who believe the 9.0 scale gave too much weight to AP, honors and curriculum I classes. However, it is clear that the point differences between curriculum levels on the 9.0 scale more accurately represented the overall challenges presented in each curriculum level.

Thus, this school should have implemented a 5.0 GPA that uses proportionally the same point differences as the 9.0 scale rather than minimizing the point differences between equivalent grades in all curriculum levels. In other words, a grade’s point value on the 5.0 scale should be the 9.0 value multiplied by five ninths.

It is essential that this school revise the new 5.0 scale to motivate students to take intellectually challenging classes. For this revision to happen, members of the school community need to bring the inequity of the new scale to the attention of the administration.

[media-credit name=”Jordan Robins” align=”alignnone” width=”509″] This school started using this 5.0 GPA scale this year. However, the scale does not put correct emphasis on high-level classes.