New weighted academic GPA proposed by Site Council

10th through 12th grade GPA strives to be more equitable

GPAs+can+be+accessed+on+Q%2C+a+platform+used+for+OPHS+students%27+grades%2C+assignments%2C+and+other+activities.+The+GPAs+found+on+Q+may+soon+be+changed+after+Site+Council+discussion.

Photo Courtesy of Q StudentConnection / Edited by Shoshana Medved

GPAs can be accessed on Q, a platform used for OPHS students’ grades, assignments, and other activities. The GPAs found on Q may soon be changed after Site Council discussion.

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A new weighted GPA may soon arrive on Oak Park High School transcripts. After months of extensive research, the OPHS Site Council proposed a weighted academic GPA that exclusively covers grades 10-12 and excludes physical education and teaching assistant classes. Site Council members hoped this new GPA would establish a more accurate representation of students’ schoolwork to colleges and jobs. 

“The addition of the weighted GPA is simply an opportunity to present our students in their strongest academic light for anyone reviewing the transcript exclusively at face value,” Site Council representative and OPHS parent Jaya Hungund-Yan wrote to the Talon. “In most cases this proposed GPA will result in one that is higher than the grades 9-12 unweighted and weighted that are already reflected on the transcript. This is in line with what peer schools are doing and may benefit our students who are looking for academic merit aid, internships, jobs and other opportunities.”

In the 2019-2020 school year, Site Council began exploring changes to the GPAs on transcripts. Initially, three different GPAs were given on OPHS transcripts: Unweighted (grades nine through 12), Cal Grant and UC/CSU. In February 2020, a weighted GPA from grades nine through 12 was added to students transcripts. It was later determined that Cal Grant and UC/CSU would be removed due to equity concerns.  

“The removal of these two GPAs prompted us to explore what common reporting practices were amongst neighboring and similar schools,” Hungund-Yan wrote. “We found that it was common practice for schools to report weighted academic GPAs and discussions went forward from there.”

Site Council discussed three new weighted GPAs for consideration. The first would be from grades nine through 12 and only covered “core” academic courses, while the second was grades 10-12 and included A-G approved courses. The last one, which was eventually selected, was also grades 10-12 but did not report PE or TA classes. 

According to Hungund-Yan, PE and TA classes can end up lowering a student’s weighted GPA as neither can go higher than a 4.0. Those who are athletes (who instead have a Pass/No Pass grade) or take a weighted course instead of TA receive a significant advantage in GPA calculations. 

“It isn’t equitable for those students whose overall weighted GPA will be impacted by a grade in PE while athletes have it automatically excluded,” Hungund-Yan wrote. “By excluding TA from the GPA calculation, we are hoping students will feel encouraged to take these roles knowing their weighted academic GPA won’t be diluted.” 

As a Site Council student representative, junior Charissa Kwok believes that her role serves as an intermediary between administrators, students and parents. She hopes the new GPA will help students, especially in the cycle of college admissions. 

“When it comes to GPA, we want to reflect students as favorably as possible,” Kwok said. “We don’t want students to worry about their GPA [because] they’ve been taking classes that are not weighted.” 

Some of Kwok’s friends and fellow students are unaware of the mechanics behind their GPAs. By making sure the process gives students their best foot forward, Kwok thinks the change can make a significant difference. 

“A lot of people are confused and don’t look into the GPA until [it’s too late] for colleges,” Kwok said. “Colleges don’t always recalculate GPA, which means that students can be cut off for scholarships … as we see what does and doesn’t work, we’ll adjust it to make it the best possible.”