Deep Dive Podcast: New Weighted GPA with Charissa Kwok

Junior student representative on Site Council Charissa Kwok discusses the impending changes to Oak Park High School students’ GPAs

Shoshana Medved: Hello there, and welcome to Deep Dive. My name is Shoshana, and I am interviewing Charissa Kwok, the junior student representative for Site Council.

OK, so I am here with Charissa, and she is going to be talking to me today about Site Council and GPA and that whole process. Charissa, would you mind briefly describing your role as student representative on Site Council.

Charissa Kwok: Site Council is comprised of students, teachers, administrators — like counselors — and the principal. So basically what we do … everything that goes to the Board [of Education] has to go through Site Council first, so literally that means the [Site] Council at the high school, middle school, [etc.]. Every school is supposed to have one. Basically, when a problem comes up, it gets brought to us, and then we take it to leadership or the Board, or we discard it.

Medved: So yeah, as you said, the student representative is kind of like the person who is the intermediate for proposals and ideas.

Kwok: Yeah, there’s four — I think you can look online — but there’s like five student representatives from each grade, and one “at large,” and the “at large” is open to anybody, so —

Medved: And you are the junior? You are the junior one?

Kwok: Yeah, apply next year. It’ll be fun.

Medved: [laughs] So you represent the juniors and all that kind of stuff from Oak Park High School.

Kwok: Yeah.

Medved: When you first heard about the proposed GPA changes, what was kind of your reaction and your thoughts to all of that.

Kwok: I mean, I wasn’t surprised, because Q [StudentConnect] has been a mess with GPAs — like there’s so many of them [that] it really came to our attention that this year, when the new cycle of admissions came in — it’s always been a fight every year — but it’s going again this year, and we finally agreed on something again in this year, so that’s why it’s in motion. We basically want to show students in the best light possible, so if that means inflating their GPA, so be it. But the thing is that we also don’t want to give students a false hope of where they stand; again, by giving them an inflated sense of GPA. Basically — it’s ok, I’ll go into something else later.

Medved: OK, so what I’m hearing you kind of say is that you’re trying to provide [a] more accurate picture of what’s going on through the proposed GPA.

Kwok: Yeah, we want to show … [we want] GPAs to reflect students as accurately as possible, but we also don’t want to disadvantage students who — the main fight was [physical education or] no PE and stuff. PE can, of course, dilute your GPA. For example, ASB does not get Honors/AP credit, PE does not get Honors/AP credit. Peer Counseling, unless it’s your second year, does not get Honors/AP credit. And a lot of people, we don’t want them to be worried by taking those classes that they want to take. They don’t have … we don’t want students to worry about their GPA falling down, as opposed to taking a sport, where it doesn’t count on your GPA — does that make sense — [since sports act as a] Pass/No Pass.

Medved: That makes perfect sense.

Kwok: Thank you.

Medved: So, in your mind, what should students really know then, because you said a lot of them are left in the dark and a lot of them aren’t really understanding a lot about this process? So, what should students know about how things currently are and how things may look in the future for GPA.

Kwok: OK, the thing is is that as we experiment — not experiment — but as we see what works and doesn’t work, as we get complaints and stuff, we will adjust as [needed], right? For now, what we’ve been doing for the past couple years … we just kept adding, you know? But the thing is that confuses people, because they don’t even know what, like … a lot of people don’t even know what [grades] 10-12 Academic [GPA] is, and there’s a bunch of exceptions. Basically, the different GPAs are basically your grades in school, but some classes are [exempt] from that.

Medved: So, with all that being said, let’s just kind of round it off here. What do you hope that the new GPA will accomplish?

Kwok: [I hope the new GPA] will clear up a lot of confusion, so people aren’t like “what is my GPA?” so they where they stand, right?

Medved: Yeah.

Kwok: Basically, we want to see what will make the most [amount of] people happy. And they want it to be able to compete with schools — the neighboring schools — because, remember, admissions officers, right, they read for a specific region. So, if they see higher GPAs from one school to another, for whatever reason, they won’t look into it. They will be like, “Oh, Westlake [High School or] Agoura [High School] is suddenly smarter. How is that happening?”

Medved: Right. So yeah …

Kwok: So [it would be like] “Agoura suddenly smarter all of the sudden?”

Medved: [laughs] So with all that being said, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Any parting words? Anything you’d like to say?

Kwok: If you honestly are really worried about this, talk to Mrs. Prince if you’re concerned, right? That’s all I can say, because people are like “Oh my god, she’s too busy to duh, duh, duh.” No she’s not. Talk to her. It will make you feel a little better, and remember, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

Medved: Thank you so much for joining us today on Deep Dive. We’ll see you next time.