FRIDAY, JANUARY 22ND, 2021
Following complaints about the 5-0 decision to include both weighted and unweighted grade point averages on mid-year transcripts for the Class of 2017 at the students’ request, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Board of Education has agreed to revisit the issue during a Board Special Study Session on Nov. 21.

Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio said that 145 Paly students — namely minority, low-income and special education students — have lower UC/CSU weighted GPAs than unweighted GPAs. Furthermore, the attempted standardization of Paly’s and Gunn High School’s weighting systems still has yet to come to fruition, as Paly uses the UC/CSU system while Gunn has its own method for calculating the weighted grade. The Board will be deciding between using the UC/CSU system and Gunn’s system at the meeting on Nov. 21.

The original decision, which many students view as rushed, was reached on Nov. 1, the same day as the deadline for Early Action and Early Decision college applications. The Board’s decision dramatically impacts the weight of classes that students have already taken.

The argument to weight grades was proposed by a Paly senior who did not qualify for a scholarship at the University of Oregon because their reported GPA did not meet the scholarship’s minimum GPA requirement. However, if her weighted grade were included on her transcript, she would be within the GPA requirement to apply for the scholarship.

Shortly after the announcement of the use of weighted grades, a petition — which has so far reached 430 signatures — asking the Board to reverse their decision and reinstate unweighted GPAs.

Paly’s policy of solely reporting unweighted GPAs was created. Additionally, 68 tenured Paly teachers have signed and sent an open letter to the Board, encouraging the vote to be reconsidered.

The letter argues that reporting students’ weighted GPAs would do more harm than good to the Paly community. It lists seven ways that weighted GPAs could reverse the progress that the district has made in past years not only to combat academic stress, but also to support students’ mental health.

There is also the fear that students will choose AP classes over electives, since they will be getting more credit for it.

Lastly, the strongest point of contention was the decision being made in the middle of the college application process for the current senior class.

Superintendent Max McGee, who was previously against weighted grades, addressed that Paly and Gunn High School can now consistently calculate weighted grades, since Gunn is already reporting weighted grades on transcripts. McGee intends to align the two schools next year.

“Our goal is to align practices for both schools next year while keeping our students’ best interests in mind,” McGee said in a letter that was sent out to the district explaining the board’s choice. “We want them to be competitive in the college application process while keeping in mind their social-emotional well-being.”

About The Author

Uma Choudhury has been writing for the Campanile since her second semester of her junior year. Outside of school, Uma enjoys baking, hanging out with friends and going to the beach.

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